I am a “Preacher’s Kid,” otherwise known as a “PK.” I must admit that I had never even heard of a “PK” until I went to college. For me, growing up as a “Preacher’s Kid” wasn’t any different from growing up as a “Lawyer’s Kid,” or a “School Teacher’s Kid.”
But as I got older, I learned from others that being a “Preacher’s Kid” was a bad thing. I was supposed to be scarred from a heavy hand of discipline. I was supposed to resent the church for being scrutinized throughout my childhood. So I got to thinking, “Was I raised differently from other kids? And you know what, I determined I was raised differently. Here’s a list of some of my memories as a “Preacher’s Kid” that other kids probably don’t have. I remember…
- Folding church bulletins on TV trays every Saturday night (and fighting with my sister over who had to fold the most).
- Being the last to leave the church building, turning out the lights, and locking up.
- Staying up late at night, anxiously anticipating my Dad’s return after being away in a two-week or ten-day gospel meeting.
- Going with my Dad as he conducted Bible studies with Jule Miller film strips and sometimes simply sitting around a table with open Bibles.
- Waking up to Dad’s “get psyched up” music (as I called it) every Sunday morning.
- Witnessing the evolution of sermon preparation (from chalkboards, to “sheet sermons,” to overhead projectors, and now to PowerPoint presentations).
- Visiting scores of funeral homes and from a distance staring at bodies in caskets and imagining I could see them breathing.
- I was the only four-year-old that I knew of who knew how to tie a double Windsor knot (okay, maybe a bit of an exaggeration).
- Transients being fed meals by my mother when they would come to our house asking for help.
- My mom conducting a Bible class in our house for the kids in the neighborhood.
- Listening to visiting gospel preachers swap amazing and humorous stories in our living room.
- Having the best place in the neighborhood to play “Hide-n-Seek” – the church building 🙂
So yes, I do remember some things that made my childhood different from other kids. But I wouldn’t change any of them if I could.
Today, I hear several angry and resentful young adults who said they were neglected because their father’s were preachers. I would offer two observations on that. 1) If a child is neglected, it’s not a problem with a parent’s “occupation,” but rather a problem with a parent’s parenting skills. Don’t drag the honorable profession of preaching into this. Leave preaching out of it! Parenting, not preaching is the problem in such cases. I think we can all acknowledge that parenting is difficult whether you’re a preacher, a plumber, or a salesman. Preacher’s, like everyone else, are human and sometimes make mistakes. 2) I will also say that sometimes the resentment that some have toward their preaching fathers is because they stood in the way of their children making immoral choices, and those children have to blame someone for their unhappiness.
The fact that my sister and I have no such resentment must be an indication of the kind of parents we had. They successfully balanced their responsibilities to their family as well as to the church. I’m proud of my Mom and Dad and what they’ve accomplished together. I’ve never been ashamed of being a “preacher’s kid.” Do I have any regrets growing up a “preacher’s kid?” Maybe a handful, but they had nothing to do with being a “preacher’s kid.” Mostly, they involved my misbehavior and the little paddle my parents kept handy in the hall closet.
Mom, Dad, Thanks!