“I swore I’d never marry a pastor,” said my future-wife to her future-husband-future-pastor. She grew up as a pastor’s kid (PK), while I had no idea what a PK was. She loved her parents, Jesus and the church, but her time in the trenches had left an impression that being married to a pastor was not for her.
Meanwhile, I had spent most of my life far from God and completely unaware of the stresses that happen within the home of a family in vocational ministry. I was an AK (accountant’s kid), which made for a very different experience.
Barnabas Piper also grew up as a PK, but with the added twist of being the son of a world-famous pastor (John Piper). Having been greatly served by the preaching and teaching ministry of John Piper, and finding myself in the position of being (a) a pastor; (b) married to a PK; and (c) the father of three PKs, I decided it would be prudent to read the younger Piper’s book.
I didn’t expect to cry. I didn’t expect to be challenged. I didn’t expect to see the grace and restoration of the gospel on such display. Though not a theology book or an especially rigorous analytical study, The Pastor’s Kid: Finding Your Own Faith and Identity acts as part memoir, part counsel for pastors and churches, and an utterly authentic view of life as a PK.
The chapters work through the pressures, problems and needs of PKs, and ways to help them grow up with a faith of their own, loving the church, loving Jesus and loving their parents. There is a lot of help in here, but it will sometimes hurt—faithful are the wounds of a friend!
“Our children did not have a say in being PKs. But we have a major part to play in leaving them with a positive or negative understanding of this part of their lives.”
Whether it’s over-sharing in sermon illustrations, preaching rather than parenting, or being too busy to play, pastoral couples can find a lot of perspective about how their children experience life in ministry.
Our children did not have a say in being PKs. But we have a major part to play in leaving them with a positive or negative understanding of this part of their lives. Piper also addresses the local church, and covers some ground that would be beneficial for church members to understand and implement.
There is also hope in this book; being a PK isn’t all doom and gloom! But the main heart of this writing is to equip parents and churches to love PKs better, and for PKs to find some comfort in the knowledge that they aren’t alone or crazy.
With its conversational tone, transparency and frankness, this is a unique book from a talented young author; as many parents and leaders in ministry as possible should read it. I think my three sons will be thankful in later years for the treasures Barnabas Piper has given to me in this book.