Monday, October 31, 2005

The Preacher's Kid

"You have to watch out for the preacher's kid!"

Scary words for a preacher, let me tell you! But you know the stereotype: the preacher's kids are the rebellious ones, always sneaking around and getting into trouble. Dad is preaching righteousness and heaven while the kids are nasty and raising hell.

I'm a preacher, but I've never been the preacher's kid. My grandfather was a pastor, but he entered the ministry later in life so my mother was never really a PK. Her dad was a PK, but I don't remember him ever talking about what that way like. And I wonder what I've gotten my kids into.

Now don't get me wrong. I've known more than a few PK's in my life. My high school sweetheart was a preacher's kid. Another good friend in high school was a PK. I know they felt a little pressure to be good -- especially when they wanted to be bad. But then again, I think any kid of church-going parents feels that pressure to a certain degree. Still, I know there is more expected of the preacher's kid.

I ran across this post over at Uncle Sam's Cabin with the following thoughts:
Pastors' children are no better or worse than anybody else's children at being "hell raisers" just more noticeable because everyone's watching them. We hold them up as some how better than your ordinary average Christian and expect them to avoid making the same mistakes we ourselves make every day. All of those high expectations can put a lot of pressure on pastors and their families. Can you imagine being a kid in those kind of circumstances? Rather than turn against our parents and our faith (as some children of pastors do) my sisters and I closed ranks around our family. We'd seen too many others stumble and fall fracturing the relationships within their families to repeat those mistakes.

Every statistical study I have seen shows this poster to be accurate. PK's are not worse... just average. Still I know there is a lot of pressure on the kids, just as there is a lot of pressure on the pastor. There is a good chance that some of those PK's who fall are experiencing the results of a self-fulfilling prophecy. They're expected to live up to a lousy stereotype, so they subconsciously set about to make it happen.

Something about us, whether it's Western culture or just the human condition, wants to see those on the pedastal fall. We love to see those who claim to be so good turn out to be so bad. We relish watching the rich man who loses it all, and we resent the man who doesn't lose it. In the same manner, the world wants to see those who teach morality fall into immorality. Or better still, have their ongoing immorality exposed for all to see. Preacher's kids may be down a few rungs on the ladder, but they are still targets of those who want to feel better about themselves or about their own kids. When the preacher's son is caught drinking and vandalizing or when the preacher's daughter ends up pregnant and single, some feel a certain amount of vindication. That's sad.

I'm grateful that I don't feel the pressure that many pastors feel. I hope that translates the same way for my kids. They are under enough scrutiny just being my kids, let alone being the pastor's kids.

As you pray for your pastor, don't forget to say a prayer for the spouse and the kids.


Anonymous said...

amen! I myself am a pk and i have heard it all. "The PK's are the worst" "They are rebelous". I think people are just watching us so closeley that when we mess up like all normal people do they point it out.

Anonymous said...

I believe the kindest, most compassionate, thing a man can do with the desire to become a minister is to postpone this personally gratifying, and challenging, experience until his children are grown and out on their own.

God-given children are not intended to be offered as sacrificial lambs to the world. A man is to protect his family first, which happens to be the first compromise a pastor makes in order to fulfill the many requirements of being a pastor.