How to treat pastors’ kids

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August 14, 2014 by Alicia

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I’m in this club called “PK’s” – or pastors’ kids. This is a club that we don’t seek out and we don’t choose. However, it’s certainly not a bad club to be a part of…most of the time. The five ways I highlight below are certainly not an exhaustive list of ways to care for your pastor’s children, but a list based on what I’ve observed and experienced.

1. Don’t expect more from a PK just because they’re a PK. I remember being in elementary Sunday School and the teacher was going around asking who had memorized the Bible verse from the previous week. When I couldn’t recite it, she told me that there is no reason for me to not know the verse since I was the pastor’s daughter. I remember feeling like such a failure. Like I had let her down, but mostly like I had let my dad down because I didn’t live up to some standard. Please do not place higher expectations on PKs because of their dad’s calling.

2. Don’t demand your pastor’s presence at the expense of his own family time. This is more of an indirect way to care for your pastor’s children. I’m not saying you shouldn’t call your pastor when you need him. But remember that your pastor is just a man, an imperfect sinner just like you. His presence will not un-break your leg, un-crash your car, or make your test results come back faster. I understand that a pastor “signs up” to be the shepherd. But even the shepherd goes home from the field and tends to his own family. Before you call your pastor during his family time, just stop and think. Your request for his presence means you are requesting his absence from his family. I can remember some true crises that my dad tended to when I was a kid. He was gone all the time. And that was okay. It was life and death. Those families truly needed him. But it was the incessant ringing phone while we were trying to have family dinner several times a week. Can you call your own family first? Can you call your deacon? Can you call your Sunday school teacher? Can you call your best friend? Again, I’m not saying don’t call on your pastor when you need him, just be realistic about how you define “need.”

3. Respect what little privacy they have.  Pastors’ families often live in glass houses. Everyone watches everything they say and do. Do not use your pastor’s children as a means to satisfy your curiosity. Don’t be nosy. Don’t ask them questions about their family that you would not ask anyone else.

4. Remember to give them grace. Sundays are an extremely long day for pastors’ families. When your pastor’s kid is throwing a tantrum about being starved for lunch after church, don’t judge them or their parents. That child was likely at church far earlier than you and will likely be one of the last to leave. Kids are kids, no matter what their parents do for a living. (This point could apply to all children – let’s stop pretending like we know how to better parent someone else’s child who is acting up).

5. Pray for your pastor’s kids. I’ve heard PKs referred to as “church rats.” I’m assuming that phrase comes from the hours and hours they spend at the church. But spending all that time at church could have a negative impact. Being a church rat means it’s easy to know all the right answers without ever truly having your own faith. Being a church rat also means you can get burned out with church and stop going as soon as you have the choice. I hope you are praying regularly for your pastor, and when you are, throw his family in there too. They are greatly affected by a life in ministry, both in great and not-so-great ways.

Like I said, that was not an exhaustive list. Just a few things to keep in mind. I’d love to hear your thoughts! What are some other ways we can more effectively care for ours pastors’ kids?

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