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Barnabas Piper: What PKs Need From Church Members

Everyone in church notices the pastor’s kids. People don’t think about noticing them, it just happens. I grew up as a PK, the son of John Piper, and even I notice PKs. It’s almost impossible to avoid. They’re like the first children of the church.

Don’t think you notice them? Here’s what it looks like.

You know things about their personal lives you don’t know about any other kid in the church: where they’re going to college, who they took to prom, that they just got braces, that they got pulled over for speeding last week. You make comments about their behavior to them or to anyone else. “Did you see his new tattoo?” “You can’t talk like that; you’re the pastor’s kid.” “Can you believe she wore that to church?” “Pastors’ kids should know better than to run in church.” You expect them to speak out in Sunday school, to pray, to lead. You have a tacit standard for them as PKs. You hold them to a higher standard than their peers in church, and you’re not even trying to do so.

What you might not realize is how this makes PKs feel.

They feel like people are always watching. The fact that you know personal things about them makes them hyper aware of you watching, listening, knowing.

They feel like there is no room for mistakes. People watch them. People tell them how to act. People have a standard for them. What pressure! They know they’re going to screw up, but how can they with everyone watching?

They feel as if they have to have it all together, to have a firm faith and a solid family life. No room for questions or doubts. No chance to wonder or wander. No struggles allowed. And really, who could they ask any way?

But you can help them. You can encourage PKs. Here are three ways.

1) Let PKs be themselves.

For better and worse, let PKs be themselves. One of the hardest parts of being a PK is being what others expect you to be without ever being able to find out who you are. Remember how you came to faith? Remember how you’ve grown in faith? I bet it was through struggles, through mistakes, through seeing the profound grace of God when you needed it most. I bet it came when you connected with Jesus in the deeply personal way instead of trying to be perfect or live up to someone else’s expectations. That’s exactly what PKs need—the room to connect with Jesus like that. And it might be a winding road with mistakes along the way, in fact it probably will be. But that’s OK.

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barnabaspiper@churchleaders.com'
Barnabas works in social media and content marketing for Lifeway Christian Resources. He is the author of The Pastor's Kid: Finding Your Own Faith and Identity (David C. Cook, July 2014). Barnabas and his wife live in the Nashville area with their two daughters. Follow him on Twitter @BarnabasPiper.