Barnabas Piper as the son of popular speaker, author, and pastor, John Piper, he knows all about the pressures of being a pastor’s kid or a “PK”. In this video, he shares some of the best and worst aspects of growing up with his dad as a pastor.
Check out Barnabas’ book The Pastor’s Kid:Finding Your Own Faith and Identity for more.
The entire video is above, and the complete transcript is below.
What are the best and worst parts of being a pastor’s kid?
I’m sort of a bad news first kind of person so I’ll go with the worst parts of being a pastor’s kid first. Get those out of the way.
I think the worst part of being a pastor’s kid is being known of by everybody in a church, but not necessarily being known well by the majority of them. That creates a whole set of expectations that come with it, because people recognize you, they know who your parents are, they expect you to behave a certain way, believe certain things, act a certain way. That creates a context where you feel like you have to live up to these expectations, but you might not know exactly who you are as a pastor’s kid in terms of your own identity. Especially during those adolescent years where identity and faith are all just sort of a big mish-mash.
So you’re trying to live up to people’s expectations while struggling to know who you are, who you are in Christ, what your own theology is versus what your parents’ theology is. All of that.
Then there’s just the weird social aspect of it. Where people who are pseudo-strangers come up and ask very personal questions. I remember questions about my prom date or my football game this past week or whatever it was. I couldn’t have told you these people’s names. I knew that they sat on the other side of the sanctuary every Sunday, but beyond that, I was just kind of at a loss.
That creates sort of a weird sense of like small context fame, but also mistrust, because people are asking really strange questions that they don’t know they shouldn’t ask. It puts you in an awkward spot.
But all of that is in the context of pressure and expectations because you’re so recognized in this context. I think that’s true in a church of 100 people or a church of 11,000 people. It’s sort of like a sliding scale of pressure and expectation. So I think that’s probably the worst part about being a pastor’s kid.
In terms of the best part, the answer is really short and it’s just free donuts. Every Sunday, you show up to church, and you know all the classrooms with all the best pastries.You just get to walk in and take whatever you want. So that’s the best part of being a pastor’s kid.
I suppose beyond that, there’s also the context of, at least in a healthy church and a healthy family, you come away with this sense of the church is my home.
That’s something that I’ve never been able to escape and I’m really glad for that. Because there have definitely been times when I kind of wanted to escape it or even tried to. There’s just a gravitational pull back to the church as the people that I trust, the people who care for me, the place where I can go for counsel and for care and to be fed. Even while there’s sort of a distance and a dissonance there.
But that has been something that has carried with me all the way through life. I think that’s probably the best part about being a pastor’s kid for me.