The View From the Eyes of a Pastor’s Kid

I grew up as a pastor’s kid {insert your typical stereo-types and jokes here}
Would you believe, that at age 35 I still get introduced sometimes as “the pastors’ daughter”?
Crazy, right? I mean, ya know…it is the first question I ask all my friends! 
So…what does your dad do for a living? 
Right.

Anyways.
I was thinking about all the stereo-types that come along with the title, and started wondering how they came to be. And now, since my husband is full time at our church I also get the title “pastor’s wife” which comes with its own separate jokes and pre-conceived notions.

My goal with this post is to enlighten those of you who are not a pastor’s kid, or pastor’s wife.
It is also to encourage those friends of mine who read my blog and are a pastor’s wife or a pk.

My dad started a church over 30 years ago. So I have owned the title “pastor’s kid”,or  “pk” for as long as I can remember. 
When you grow up as a pastor’s kid, things are pretty interesting.
*You  know a lot of information about a lot of people
*You have very little money (typically)
*You watch your parents get a lot of expectations piled on them
*You realize that people are watching you all the time.

-Because of the fact that when people are in trouble, they come to a pastor… there were many times growing up that I would know about marriage problems, financial issues and many other difficulties with many people from my church.
It was then my responsibility to keep quiet about all of them.

-We never had a lot of money. We grew up in a trailer, and my dad had to work a paper route (he even dug graves) for years just to pay the bills. 

-My dad was expected to be on call 24 and 7. I remember one time he got a call at 2:00am because a lady had lost her cat and wanted my dad to come and rescue it from a tree. 
He went.
He was expected to be at the hospital if there was a church member, or family of a church member, friend of a church member…etc. who was sick. Our door was always expected to be open, and people were free to stop in any time they chose.

-My parents marriage was watched closely, their parenting, their financial decisions, their leisure activity…all of it. It was being watched constantly with very high expectations, with people who were happy to judge them on how they spent their money.

Through all of this, my dad did not…and does not complain. He has felt the call of God on his life, and he is the most merciful, gracious person that I know. Honestly. 

But heres the problem. A lot of pastor’s kids are known for going off the deep end.
They see all of this. 
They see all of the time, the work, the love, the sacrifice, the effort that goes into being a pastor.
And the sad part is? They see the meanest side of people.
Most of the time, it is by people claiming the name of Jesus! It can just blow your mind the things that people can say and do. They watch their parents get overworked and underpaid. They watch their dad being taken for granted and watch people sin over and over and they don’t know how to deal with it! When they choose to allow those situations they have seen linger, it can destroy them. It is so easy to become bitter with Christians and churches who have hurt you. 

I can not even tell you how many times my dad has gotten his character torn to shreds over the years. Usually by the people that he put the most effort into.
The people who he opened his heart, his home, his wallet to.
The ones he called friends.
Those are the ones who would then stab him in the back, (or bash him to his face.) or leave the church and never even care if they spoke to him again. I am in tears as I write because of the faces that have just come into my head as I type. As a child, I would see this happen and then I would watch my dad bump into them in a store and hug these people! It is an incredible testimony of grace and mercy on his part, but it can easily cause a child to become bitter and hateful.

So here’s what happens. As a kid watching her daddy get treated like this is so disconcerting. You can start to feel like you just can’t trust anyone. You can start to wonder if it is even worth serving God at all? How can people act like this?
As it is…a lot of people don’t even want to be friends with you at all if you hold this title…and that is a fact.
But when you grow up seeing these things happen to your dad and don’t know what to do with it all? I can see why some kids go nuts.

I am very blessed.
My dad has a very godly, supportive and loving wife.
My dad never ever put the ministry before his family. (although it is so hard not to!)
My dad knew that God wanted him to give his life to serve his community.
And the most important part…my dad has a personal, growing relationship with a God who loves him and wants what is best for him.

So for those of you who have had your own ideas of pastor’s kids or pastor’s wives,
look at it a little bit differently for a minute.
Understand the pressure, the unrealistic expectations, the stress and the pain that goes along with it. Understand that your pastor has feelings. That he is under attack. And that his wife and kids have real needs just like you do.

Here are a few things you can do instead.

1. Write an encouraging note to your pastor, his wife or even their kids!
2. Do not ever spread gossip about him or his family.
3. Make sure you are totally in the Spirit before you even think of putting down his character!
(*and especially don’t talk to him about some issue right before or after he preaches!)
4. Pray for him and his family a little bit harder.
And the next time you are tempted to judge, or criticize…
try looking at the view from the eyes of a pastor’s kid. A kid who is still developing his view of the world. Who is still developing his view of people and of God. 
Think about things from the eyes of a pastor’s wife. Who just longs to have a friend. Just One.Friend. who cares about them. who wants to get together for coffee…not because they need counsel, but because they actually care about her!

And for those sweet friends of mine who are right in the thick of it.
Remember this.
God called you here.
Remember Galations 1:10 that says “obviously, i am not trying to win the approval of people, but of God.”
Your goal is not to please people. It is to please God. That is all.
Of course, you do sometimes please people. There are people who are trustworthy, although they are few. There are people who want to be your friends and don’t look at you differently because of your “title”, although not many.
Don’t let yourself stop trusting everyone. It is so easy to be there, and stay there. And it is so easy to doubt that you will ever have a true friend. It is easy to second guess every conversation you see going on after church! 
BUT – don’t let yourself stay there! Take your thoughts captive and only think of things that are true.

And finally.
Don’t let some mean people distract you from doing what God has called you to do.
Therefore, my dear brothers, stand firm. Let nothing move you. Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain.

Stay strong. Fight the fight, and remember that God will reward you. 
Nothing else matters.

*always* feel free to contact me if you are in the middle of something tough and need prayer.

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4 thoughts on “The View From the Eyes of a Pastor’s Kid

  1. Aw – I so relate to all this. I grew up a missionary kid and then a pastor's kid and to this day refuse to sit on the front row in church! (LOL – but true). I now am married to a man, who although not a pastor, is always in ministry one way or another. It is so much easier to forgive someone who has wronged us, than wronged somebody we love but we can do it with God's grace 🙂 I would SO go get coffee (or tea in my case) with you ANY time if we lived closer. Be encouraged 😀

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  2. Thank you for sharing your view! I am a pastors wife raising two pastors kids! We just went through an incredibly rough season…. (now that I am thinking about it almost a year has past) I always appreciate hearing what the “kid” thinks as we try to raise ours loving God first and foremost! Thankful God is faithful and guess us grace I our greatest times!

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