Celeste Forrest, Staff Writer
This past weekend, I had the opportunity to participate in the annual Pastor’s Kids Retreat, or more commonly known as the “PK retreat.” Between trying to control my crazy little sisters, singing awesome worship songs and listening to guest speaker Brett Armstrong share his story about growing up PK, I could not help but think how different everyone was. We all, at one point, felt that our families were so dysfunctional, we were too embarrassed to stand next to them in public. We all felt pressured by the church and our parents. We have all been labeled the “good-goody-two-shoes” by our peers just because we were pastor’s kids. We all shared different backgrounds, different experiences and different stories.
The more I thought about it, the more I realized how many “PK stereotypes” have tried to trap us pastor kid’s in a little box. We are so different compared to how TV shows, movies and social media try to define and portray us. So here I am, writing about how growing up in a household with two pastors doesn’t make you any more different than living in a “normal” Christian family (but really, define normal? And as Christians, we’re not suppose to be “normal” anyways, but I digress). As you read below, perhaps my upbringing might sound a little similar to yours.
Myth: Pastor Kids grow up very sheltered.
Truth: Nobody does. I’ve moved seven times growing up, and lived in five states, all across the nation. I’ve experienced many cultures. I’ve lived among the impoverished. My next door neighbors were drug dealers and gang members. Except for kindergarten, I’ve studied in inner city public schools my whole life where the graduation rate was 40%. I believe many pastor kids, no matter what their background and no matter where they live, cannot be sheltered from society. After all, it’s important that we’re not.
As Christians, everyone needs to be prepared for the world, so we can learn how to connect with others and learn how to be Jesus to the lost. My parents knew this, and did not “shelter” me from the suffering in the inner cities. I worked with homeless children, families with low incomes and young single mothers. I was well aware of what went on politically and socially around my neighborhood, city, state and so on.
Instead of being part of the problem, my family encouraged me to make a difference and be a living testimony of God’s love through my actions. Just like any other Christian, PKs make relationships with non-Christians and are not ignorant of sin and destruction, and just like any human being, we make decisions that lead us to sin and destruction. We are very far from sheltered.
Myth: Pastor Kids rebel because of our strict upbringing.
Truth: Though I cannot speak for every PK, because I understand each of our families and backgrounds are very different, I know from my own personal experience that this is not true. Growing up, my parents had rules: no swearing, no boys allowed in my room, no rated R movies in the house, if you’re going out, be back before midnight, etc. When I was younger, I struggled more with talking back to my parents and lying just like any other little kid more so than the “PK” rules my parents emplaced. However, as I matured, I began to realize my family’s rules were just like any other Christian household’s. My parents were hard on me, and they challenged me every day to excel in my school work and hobbies, and encouraged me to pursue my ministry in teaching and writing.
So rules were established so I could learn to be accountable for my actions and deepen my relationship with Christ. Due to this, I never felt the need to rebel, because I felt content and satisfied with myself, my relationship with my family and my relationship with God. My parents were never super controlling, just protective like any other normal family would be. Actually, they were probably less strict than some Christian parents I knew; we were allowed to read and watch Harry Potter and Xena Warrior Princess. Their rules never caused me reason to rebel.
Myth: Pastor Kids are more important than you
Truth: Not true at all. Just because one or both of our parents are pastors doesn’t make us any more or less superior. As Christians, we are all children of God and God loves us passionately and equally. But let me tell you, even though us PKs are not “the chosen ones” and God did not single us out to be examples for the world, God DID choose Christians to be His living, breathing testimony, making us ALL examples for the world. No matter if you are a single child, a missionary’s kid or the brother of 29 siblings, if you are a Christian, everyone is watching you and everyone is looking to see if you are following the God you preach through your actions and words. God has created leaders in all of us, not just the PKs.
So, are you a PK? Do you have any feedback or anything you would like to share? Feel free to post in the comments below!