February 10, 2020
A common question that is asked here at Liberty is to tell somebody your “story” or “testimony”. One of the most crucial aspects of a life story is the people that influence you through it. Although everybody has a different story and has been impacted significantly by multiple people, I would love to shape your perception of “Pastor’s Kids” and show how growing up with fathers as pastors has influenced our lives and our walks with the Lord.
Pastor’s kids, often referred to at Liberty as “PK’s”, have a much different experience growing up than anybody else, and I can personally attest to this. As a PK, the same person that we live with, who takes care of us, who we see the good and bad sides of; that person is also our pastor and the leader that we seek to learn from at church. It can be a really interesting dynamic. I have many friends in which some of their greatest role models are their pastors, but in the life of a PK, that same role model is also the parent who disciplined them the night before.
A Liberty student and fellow PK Caleb Romberger said, “My dad inspired me to walk daily with Jesus and not only did he teach me and train me as a father, he did so as my pastor too.” This is a beautiful visual of the special dynamic that pastors get to spend with their children and how they are able to teach them in two crucial settings. According to another PK, Hope Wright, “You see the highlights and the lowlights of their normal life and their spiritual life and it kind of sets the tone for what’s “expected” in a way.” Nobody is perfect, and that is made visibly clear in the life of a PK. Pastors are held in such a high standard, which is good, but in reality, they are humans like everybody else. It just so happens that their job is to teach the Word of the Lord to others. I would argue that far too often kids see their parents, especially those in the ministry, as perfect and without flaw. Kids are then left to deal with the shock when they find out that their “perfect parent” isn’t perfect anymore. Another PK, Haley Henson, said, “I think it influenced me in that I got to see that my dad wasn’t perfect from a really young age even as a pastor, which kind of made his role one that was teaching me while also trying to learn himself.” This is helpful to realize the younger you are, because from then on you get to live your life realizing your dad/pastor is learning and, quite literally, practicing what he preaches.
One of the hardest parts of being a pastor’s kid is the way that everybody treats you. Growing up, you are a normal kid until everybody finds out that your dad is the pastor and then everything changes. You are known only as the “pastor’s son” and everybody starts treating you differently than they did beforehand. Donny Betts, a pastor’s kid himself, said this about his situation, “It’s not my dad who can be the problem, it’s other people who like to make me look like a perfect kid.” This notion that pastor’s children need to be perfect and spotless is unhealthy and can have many negative effects on the kids as they grow up. There are so many weighty expectations placed over the children of pastors, and when they don’t achieve them, it can bring forth many emotional issues because the kids think that they let their dad down. Of course, that is not the case, but it is still unfair to think of pastor’s kids in such high esteem. They are just that… kids, and they should be treated as such. They should be free to live and make mistakes while still being able to be corrected.
A unique aspect of being a pastor’s kid is the day when we transition into our own relationship with the Lord. Alivia Chenoweth, a student and PK at LU, says it best, “We grew up with God in our lives and in a way, our faith was our parents’ faith.” This is a struggle for every Christian that grew up in the church, but even more so with those that are pastor’s kids. For me, having grown up in the church, it can be easy to look up at the stage and see only my dad instead of my pastor. Growing up with this, I learned to just accept the Christian life and that was all that I knew. It wasn’t until my sophomore year of high school and then again early in college that my faith grew apart from my parents and into my own. I will always be thankful to have an avenue where I can call one person and it fills the void for the pastor and father. Both roles should operate as spiritual leaders, but both work under different scenarios and situations.
I hope that this is insightful information for you. Be on the lookout in the future for PKs and watch their dynamic with their father. The next time you see your friend that is a PK, be sure to ask them what it was like growing up with their dad as a pastor. Treat them normally and don’t hold any unhealthy expectations over them. Their answer will give major insight to how they arrived where they are currently at. Odds are, their dad had a lot to do with it.
Written by: Josiah Frisbie
Josiah enjoys writing for the blog because he believes in the power of discussing relevant topics. He wants to be challenged in his writing and research style while still growing and striving for knowledge.