MK's (Missionary kids) and EK's (Elder's kids) step aside. The PK's are in the house.
PK's (Pastor's Kids) are church royalty. They regularly feature as sermon illustrations, have tasted the cooking of majority of the church congregation and are usually the ones left eating the communion bread well after the service has finished.
Being a PK is like being a D-grade celebrity: People know my face but have no idea what my name is. I'm special enough to know the church wireless password and I get the leftovers from shared lunches. Furthermore, I'm privileged to have one-on-one feedback sessions with the pastor. This usually occurs around the dinner table and involves discussions about getting rid of the organ and putting twenty minute time limits on sermons.
"PK's gone wild"
According to popular belief PK's have two choices. We can either replicate the image of our fathers—alike Martin Luther King Jr. or Billy Graham's brood—or we can become rebellious, tattooed teenagers who reject every inch of our parent's faith. Jon Acuff calls the latter "Pastor's kids gone wild". The term sounds like a terrible late night reality show, but it is the perfect description of a pastor's wayward child.
To earn the title of a quality 'PK gone wild' one has to start off as a Christian. This involves volunteering in every aspect of church life and regularly posting Facebook statuses about church activities. The best model of this is the likes of Jamie Sullivan, a Pastor's daughter in the film, 'A Walk to Remember'. To be like Jamie you should wear dungarees and spend your Saturdays either working with disadvantaged children or creating a telescope so you can look at God's creation.
Once this idealistic Christian existence has been established you then create a new, unconventional and contrasting lifestyle. Joining a hippy movement in the outskirts of Bolivia is an obvious example of this. Otherwise go for the easier option and join a heavy metal band and then take off on a tour of Mexico.
A famous example
Katy Perry is my favorite example of a PK gone bad. The pop star went from releasing gospel albums under her real name, Katy Hudson, to vaulting into mainstream music scene with the hit "I kissed a girl." She then sealed her 'PK Wild Child' title by marrying and divorcing a comedian who once got fired for turning up to work, on September 11th, dressed as Osama Bin Laden.
"Fans who loved the Katy who billed herself as the God-loving daughter of two pastors aren't pleased with her new image: Hip-shaking, lingerie-wearing, pseudo-lesbian pop star." People were understandably shocked by this pastor's daughter going off the rails and obviously her antics raised a few church-going eyebrows. However Katy Perry's rebellious turnaround is theoretically justifiable.
Serving out of obligation
I say this because I've noticed that Pastor's kids can find themselves caught up in a rhythm of 'doing church' and 'being the pastor's child.' It is easy to get fixed in a mind-set of trying to be a good person and doing godly things. The difficulty here is when one feels they have to act this way out of obligation.
I remember one Christmas Day my family made up the worship team. To the congregation it seemed acceptable that the entire pastor's family was on worship. It was our duty to serve the church, as that is what Dad is paid to do. But just as a daughter of an electrician would dislike being expected to fix people's wiring, so does a pastor's daughter dislike being expected to work for the church.
Obligation comes out of an expectation of one being bound to a duty or a role. This duty can come out of the feeling that as a Christian we have the obligation to serve the church in order to be accepted into it. People become bound to this obligation and consequently overworked and discouraged. For that reason I think pastor's kids get a warped perception of the church as participating becomes an obligation.
PK's would be first to confirm that their parents are only human. They see the stress, the late-night sermon-writing marathons and endless prayer meetings. Therefore it becomes an obligation to help their parents and support what is ultimately their family's livelihood. They react to their father's tired face when he gets home after cleaning the church for three hours and respond by volunteering themselves. They then get bound to their parent's role in the church rather than establishing their own.
Rebelling for freedom
It's no wonder Pastor's kids run dry and go wild. They see the church as a machine that sucks all the energy out of their parents. That is why I can cut Katy Perry a bit of slack. The poor girl started off singing the right songs and focused her life on the right stuff. However she obviously saw this as something she was obliged to do. Therefore when that part of her life ran dry she chose to run for freedom.
Freedom is the underpinning theme here. Obligation doesn't necessarily exist where there is freedom. This is why people who feel bound to a duty or responsibility yearn for freedom. They literally wait for the moment we can leave behind the obligations they are bound too. We all dream, hope and thirst after freedom and we savor every inch of freedom we are given. Consequently when it gets taken away, or replaced by routine or expectation, we seek to cut ties and run away from anything that resembles obligation.
Wild enough to seek true freedom
Pastor's kids long for a freedom that allows them to identify themselves as Christians regardless of what their parents do for a living. This longing for freedom is placed in us for a reason. I believe that both Christians and Pastor's kids need to find the freedom that God offers us. As simple as it seems it's about getting back to the basics. It's about the real reason Pastors put their time into church and why the congregation chooses to turn up on a Sunday morning.
God is true freedom, because there is not obligation when it comes to accepting his love. It is this freedom that allowed me to separate my faith from the standards and expectations that so many pastors' kids get caught up in. This freedom allowed me to see church as a place to be a Christian out of a love for God, rather than a place where I felt obligated to be one.
Katy Perry may be a great example of a pastor's kid that went off the rails. But she isn't the best example of a pastor's kid that was wild enough to decide they wouldn't be a Christian out of obligation. A pastor's kid who was wild enough to seek after true freedom. A pastor's kid who was wild enough to choose to accept the freedom-filled love of God.
Elesha Edmonds is sad to announce the death of her thirteen-year-old pet fish who passed away whilst she was in Europe training to be a foreign correspondent journalist. In lieu of flowers, please feel free to follow @eleshaedmonds on Twitter.
Elesha Edmonds' previous articles may be viewed at www.pressserviceinternational.org/elesha-edmonds.html