How I Survived Being A Pastor’s Kid And What You Can Learn From It

How I Survived Being A Pastor’s Kid And What You Can Learn From It

My dad was a Baptist pastor.  I can’t remember a time in my childhood when I was not in church.  Every Sunday and every Tuesday night there were services and I’m pretty sure I was there for 90% of them growing up.  And, being a Pastor’s Kid (PK) is a formula for rebellion and turning away from your faith altogether.

And, I did.

But here I am, at the age of 37, a pastor myself.  And, there is one thing that my dad consistently said to me that helped me survive being a pastor’s kid and even return to faith after I had strayed from it:

“Don’t simply believe because I say it, search it out for yourself.”

In other words, he was saying to read the Bible and to pray to God and believe because I found that the things there are true…and don’t simply believe because my dad believes.  I think this is an important lesson for us all.

Don’t simply believe because your parents say it, search it out for yourself.

Don’t simply believe because your friends say it, search it out for yourself.

Don’t simply believe because your pastor says it, search it out for yourself.

Don’t simply believe because _________ says it, search it out for yourself.

But also, couldn’t the inverse also be true?

Don’t simply NOT believe because your parents say it, search it out for yourself.

Don’t simply NOT believe because your friends say it, search it out for yourself.

Don’t simply NOT believe because your teacher says it, search it out for yourself.

Don’t simply NOT believe because  ________ says it, search it out for yourself. 

What is the foundation of your belief?  Is it because of someone that you’ve “borrowed” your faith from or is it because you’ve searched it out and found it to be true for yourself?

What is the foundation of your dis-belief?  Is it because someone else persuaded you that it was false or is it because you’ve search it out and came to the conclusion on your own?

Comment below and let me know!

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7 thoughts on “How I Survived Being A Pastor’s Kid And What You Can Learn From It

  1. Connie Terpack

    My faith started as a pre-schooler! My mother was abusive, yet she still made sure we went to church. I didn’t understand much other than I could talk to Jesus and he would help me. My mother insisted that you were supposed to love the Lord, but she hated everyone which sent a very confusing message to a little girl. My dad would never take us to the same church more than 3 times until I found a church I wanted to go back to. I was about 10 years old and I grew up in that church. My dad quit taking us after he had a disagreement with the pastor. I never knew what it was about, but I managed to ride with a neighbor who lived about 3 miles from us. They used to drive to my house to pick me up, but that became “inconvenient”, so I had to walk one mile and meet them at the bottom of their hill. Over time, it was too much trouble for them to take me (never learned why either) so I had to take two buses. The North Side of Pittsburgh was not the safest area, but I trusted Jesus to keep me safe and He did.
    As you might guess, when people try to give me excuses about why they can’t get to church, I tell them that’s no excuse!

    1. Wow! What a story Connie! Thanks so much for sharing!!

  2. […] How I Survived Being A Pastor’s Kid And What You Can Learn From It by Tim Parsons […]

  3. Marcy Scott

    As a PK, I disagree with your statement that it’s a recipe for rebellion.I don’t think being a PK is any more of a recipe for rebellion than any other profession. It does come with it’s own set of unique stresses, like moving more often than most kids, and having to share one of your parents who do not have a 9-5 profession. It also comes with great gifts, lessons in compassion and community(not all of them easy lessons) that I would not trade for anything in the world. A lot of kids are leaving the church and their faith, and most of them are percentage wise not PK’s. The question in youth ministry needs to be why are they leaving?

    1. Great points Marcy. Not sure of the percentage of PK’s that turn from their faith, but I do personally know a few (and I was one, for a season). I’m not sure if youth ministry is, by itself, the cause or solution, but I do think that church and families need to come together to figure it out or else we will be faced with an even bigger issue than where we currently find ourselves. I hope that you see this article not as a condemnation of PK’s (as I am one and I am currently raising four), but rather a way forward in how we personalize our faith and not merely believe what we believe because someone else told us to. Thanks so much for commenting!!

  4. Great post, Tim. I hear what you’re saying about PK’s…And I also hear Marcy’s point, too. We can’t over-generalize and assume that because they’re PK’s they are going to stray but I think there is often a stereotype that they do. Here’s a great article from the Barna Group (highly respected Christian research site)…https://www.barna.org/barna-update/family-kids/644-prodigal-pastor-kids-fact-or-fiction

    Anyway, I love your points, Tim, about NOT believing just because your parents say so. Quite true. All three of my children accepted Jesus with a knowledge I believe to be real (based on what they’ve said to us and the crazy wisdom they possess – children are astounding, really, when don’t put caps on them) around five years old. I didn’t accept Jesus until I was 27 so obviously, we are having a very different upbringing here at the Snapp house! However, because I know of the tendency of children raised up in the faith from a very young age, PK or not, to stray, I pray every night that my children will experience a period in their lives when they’ll really make their faith “their own.” Of course, as their mother, I don’t want that experience to be too bad but I don’t get to determine that…:)

    I think our kids stray for a variety of reasons and they all come together as a puzzle. Poor youth ministry is one piece; society’s opinion of what’s “cool” and what isn’t is another; high levels of doubt and liberalism at the collegiate level doesn’t help; and our own innate desire to rebel is another (we all have this to some degree as a result of the fall).

    And so…you’ve given me much to think about, Tim. Thank you!

    1. Thanks so much for posting Natalie! Great article from Barna! It seems to have the facts straight. So glad this post struck a chord with you. Thanks again for commenting!

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