The Ten Struggle Buses of Being an Adult Pastor’s Kid

I didn’t choose the PK life. Because that would make me certifiable. My dad chose the PK life for me.

Anyway, I saw recently a picture on Facebook:


(for reference)

And at first, I was like: Which one am I? And then I was like: Should I be offended? Because I don’t really feel like either of these choices. Can I be Hawkeye? And I know they are just representations of the two stereotypes that will be around as long as there are pastors. People will always think that PKs are either goody-two shoes who are too innocent for their own good and don’t know what real life is. Or, they are the ones drinking underage and getting your children addicted to heroin while tattooing them. There is no in between.

I’ve always laughed at that because I’ve felt normal. I thought I was normal. Some people have doctors, teachers, firemen, etc. as fathers. Mine’s a pastor. Somehow, I was able to handle being a Pastor’s Kid with a lot more grace and tact than I do as an adult. I was not prepared for living as an adult Pastor’s Kid. The struggle is real, people. Had I only known.

1. No one will ever be as good of a pastor as my father. NO ONE. You don’t know the struggle of sitting in the pew at a new church and feeling that deep anger of, “Why can’t you just be my dad? Why can’t I travel with my dad so that he can always be my pastor? It’s worked for me before.” These men aren’t bad. They just aren’t dad.

2. What face do you make when you’re pastor is giving you communion? I’ve been taking communion since I was fourteen, but for the past three years, God only knows what’s going on with my expression. I’ve actually apologized to someone because I’m used to smiling at my dad while he gives me the blood of Jesus, and that’s okay because we’re related. Might try this one out tomorrow:


3. Church people aren’t overly intrusive about your life. This sounds great, and actually it is. They don’t feel like they have the right to judge and criticize me for every little thing I do because my dad’s not their pastor. Still, I don’t know what to talk to them about. “So, weather. We have it.” It’s like going from people wanting to talk to you about whether you’re actually a virgin or not to mere smiles and nods.


4. Because no one feels the need or obligation to talk to me at church, they don’t know me. So, they treat me like some heathen college student who’s wandered in off the street and doesn’t know Peter from Paul. Screw you, I was Lutheran in the womb. I’ve only ever went to Lutheran schools. The faith is strong in this one. Sit down.

5. I sort of miss being a church darling. It wasn’t always pleasant, but I miss feeling connected. I miss being role model, the leader of my age group, the instigator. I miss those people who made me understand why we call it a church family. I’m having trouble having those relationships in my new church because I always sort of feel like someone’s stolen my spot. In my current situation, it’s a bunch of kids under ten so I sort of look like an a-hole, but still.

6. I struggle to refer to my pastors as pastors. think about it. I never grew up calling my pastor, Pastor Sam. I’ve only ever called my pastor dad. What makes it even more difficult is that we hung out with other pastor’s families. So all the pastors I know were referred to by their first and/or last name. Now that I have non blood related pastors, I’m like, “Yo, Matt.” “Hey, Justin.” Aw shit, that’s not your title. Fail.

7. I have to wear shoes at church. What a bummer. I didn’t wear shoes at church for probably the entirety of my youth. Now, I can’t do that. I don’t even think it’s because I’m an adult. It’s because my dad isn’t in charge of confession and absolution anymore so people don’t have to tolerate my behavior. Buzzkill.

8. I’m thanked for things, mostly showing up. I guess this ties into number four, but it’s disconcerting. Of course I want to come to Lent and Advent services if I’m not working. Yeah, I’ll help decorate the church. That’s what you’re supposed to do, right? I don’t get it.

9. I have not and will not change my membership over to my new church. I’m still a legal member of my dad’s church and it will remain such for the foreseeable future. I mean, sometimes I want to vote and be a part of church decisions. They’re always for when I work though so I can’t actually go. Still, one time I thought about switching my membership and then had a panic attack because it feels like a tangible cord tying me to my childhood and my parents. The world feels unbearably lonely if I’m not a member of my dad’s church. Can’t stop. Won’t stop.

10. You never grow out of “You’re a pastor’s kid?!!” I’m both innocent and devilish, dare I say it? Saint and sinner. There are times I can’t fathom how people are living their life. It’s so far removed from how I was raised and my sense of values. I find myself thinking, “You just don’t do something like that.” On the other hand, just as much, I find people shocked that I’m a PK. Apparently I can come off as rebellious, aggressive, crude, and other adjectives that most people end up being at some point in their life that you wouldn’t naturally attribute to a PK if you’re view of PKs resembles Captain America.

Essentially, my life as an adult PK:



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