by Aaron Earls
Barnabas Piper knows what it is like to be a pastor’s kid. In fact, he may know what it’s like to be the pastor’s kid.
Growing up as the son of John Piper, Barnabas learned the joys and struggles of being a PK (pastor’s kid). Now, he’s hoping to use that experience to help others with his book The Pastor’s Kid: Finding Your Own Faith and Identity.
Today, Barnabas has found his way to serve in ministry by writing and working with Ministry Grid, an online training solution developed by Lifeway. He was gracious enough to answer some questions about his life, his book and what Christians need to know about PKs.
F&T: Are there things that may set the pastor’s kid apart from others in terms of expectations and pressures?
Without a doubt. Being the children of the religious leader creates a set of (false) expectations for PKs—perfect behavior, better Bible knowledge, look immaculate, be a leader, follow in dad’s footsteps, etc. All these add up to create a sense of pressure that can be overwhelming.
It also makes it hard for many PKs to figure out who they really are, what God made them to be. They are so burdened by either living up to others’ expectations or rebelling against them that they never develop into the men or women God intended.
|Pastor’s Kid by Barnabas Piper|
F&T: Looking back, what do you wish people had known about life as a PK while you were growing up?
Lots of things come to mind, but the biggest is that I wish people had viewed me, and other PKs, as normal kids. We needed room to do dumb stuff and be kids. We needed to be applauded for the same things other kids were and reprimanded for the same things. And we needed room to figure out who and what we were, like normal kids. The added expectation and scrutiny took a lot of that away.
F&T: How best can church members encourage their pastor and his family?
Remember that humans are all essentially the same—created in God’s image but also fallen. Pastors, and by extension their families, aren’t any closer to God or more like Him. They are called to a position of leadership and care for a congregation, but are prone to the same mistakes and sins that lay people are.
Basically, a good church member can work hard to follow and respect the pastor as a leader but also remove the pedestal on which he and his family are so often placed. Placing someone on a pedestal inevitably ends in a long, painful fall.
F&T: What can other Christians, who may not be in the ministry, learn from your book?
I think church members who care about their pastor’s family would benefit from getting a glimpse behind the curtain. It would help them demythologize the ministry a bit, while also helping them connect in a genuine way with PKs and pastors.
Aaron Earls (@WardrobeDoor) is online editor of Facts & Trends.