Sep 03, 2019

4 Things Every PK Needs

Mr. Connect lived about 3 blocks from my house, and across the street from our church. He was a retired man who loved to spend his empty days out on the lake fishing. Of course, this sounds funny now that I think about it because I grew up in Anaheim California, where the only real lakes are usually man-made reservoirs collecting snowmelt from the distant mountains. But, I loved fishing for some reason, and for some other reason Mr. Connect decided to make it his ministry to take me fishing. What is so special about these times is that Mr. Connect had no obligation to me, other than the fact that he supported my parents, who were in evangelical ministry and lived on missionary type financial support (which you can imagine was hard to do in Southern California!) I don’t know where this precious man is today, or if he is even still alive, but I do know that he is one of a handful of people who ministered to me as a PK (preacher’s kid). He had a lasting impression on me because he took the time to care about me and my brothers, even when we weren’t exactly the model of what people expected us to be.

Preachers kids are the kids who are so often and so easily judged because of that wonderful passage in 1 Timothy 3 that we seem to like to use as a spiritual threat tool for kids in ministry. This passage is a reminder that a person in ministry must have his/her house in order. In reality, 1 Timothy 3 is an indictment on poor parenting rather than a tool to control behavior, but that is another matter. It is difficult, unless you have experienced it yourself, to understand the pressures that PK’s are under, and more importantly, the grace that should be extended to these precious young people. This being said, I would like to give 4 areas of struggle in which every PK needs to be given grace:

1. Grace to struggle with the flesh.

We must remember that PK’s have a sin nature just like other kids. My grandpa (a Presbyterian church planter) used to say, “Dentist’s kids have teeth for nothing, Doctor’s kids get sick for nothing, and Preacher’s kids are good for nothing!” Being a third-generation pastor, I know that all too many times people watch the pastor’s kids to make sure they are minding their spiritual “p’s and q’s”. PK’s practically live at church and all the time they are there must “behave” like they are in church. We have to understand that if a PK gets nothing but correction from the entire church body it will feel that the entire church body becomes the third parent the child doesn’t need and certainly doesn’t want. This causes a real resentment and angst against the church body. If you want to minister to your Pastor’s children when they struggle, pray for them, and ask the Lord to give you wisdom and opportunities to minister to them.

2. Grace to struggle with their faith.

PK’s must wrestle with and accept “the faith” on their own terms and individually just like everyone else. The worst phrase one can ever say to a PK is “you should know better.” We all should know better, and yet we all struggle with the same insecurities and questions about God’s love. PK’s just have to live this struggle out in a more public setting. As a pastor I have encouraged our own children to ask the tough questions, knowing that Jesus is big enough to love them through their doubts and lead them to answers through the Holy Spirit and the Word of God.

3. Grace to struggle with finances.

The life of a pastor or missionary is certainly a high calling, but we often never realize or think about the fact that the children of pastors or missionaries weren’t called, as much as dragged into ministry (sometimes kicking and screaming). My children didn’t choose to live with less but rather must live with the consequences of their parent’s calling to ministry. I understand that other career paths provide less for those families as well, however PK’s shouldn’t be told “it’s a privilege to be in ministry” whenever they struggle with the frustrations of having less than their friends. This is a very real struggle that draws an unmistakably straight line to God and the church, so the last people that need to “shush” these precious souls is the church. We know that God cares about, counts and records every struggle these precious ones face (Ps 56:8).

4. Grace to struggle with forgiveness.

It isn’t the pastor who wears the weight of the ministry, but rather the pastor and his wife…and their children. Church members don’t realize that the pastor’s kids are aware of the rage and rants of angry churchgoers unhappy with the pastor’s decisions or performance. Church members also don’t realize that the pastor’s kids watch these same people, who just slandered their parents, sing with hands lifted high in the worship service or teaching their Sunday school class. As I have counseled with PK’s over the years, I have found this to be the second biggest reason why PK’s don’t enter ministry (the first happens to be ineffective parenting – 1 Tim 3). PK’s need to be given grace in the struggle to love difficult people, just like the rest of the church.

So what do PK’s need? One word: they need Jesus. They need Jesus and all that He offers just like you need Jesus! They don’t need lectures or wagging fingers or shushing or reminders of responsibility. They just need the grace of Jesus! They just need you to say “Hey, Jesus loves you so much, and I love you and am so thankful for you. You are special and important to God, not because of who your parents are, but because of who you are!”

By <a href="" target="_self">Rob Phillips</a>

By Rob Phillips

Rob Phillips has served in full-time ministry for over 20 years and currently serves as Lead Pastor at Broadalbin Baptist Church in upstate New York. He is also a camp and conference speaker who holds a degree in Theology from Trinity College of Florida as well as a Master and Doctorate Degree in Pastoral Ministry from Andersonville Theological Seminary.