I've always hated the term "PK." All my life, people have felt total license to use it with my siblings and me—a knowing glance, a faked camaraderie. "You're a PK, too? Isn't it the worst/best?"
Well, yes. And no. And why are we having this conversation in the first place? We never, after all, refer to a dentist's child as a DK or the child of a homemaker as an HK. Why do the children of clergy get such special designations—and such a specific template into which they must fit?
We PKs have two choices, according to television and popular belief. Either we grow up sanctimonious, carrying the mantle of our fathers—in the mold of Martin Luther King Jr., Reinhold and H. Richard Niebuhr, and Franklin Graham—or, we are Katy Perry or pre-conversion Jay Bakker, tattooed and seductive and rebellious and raising hell in ways specifically contrived to reject our parents' beliefs (call it the Pastor's Kids Gone Wild trend, as Jon Acuff recently did).
We have on our hands a Christian celebrity culture that runs counter to the gospel: that elevates the gifted communicators, teachers, and leaders and devalues the gifts of the volunteers: those who welcome people into their homes, the administrative assistants, and the janitors. A 2004 Biola Magazine cover story on pastor's kids noted, "When your dad is a famous Christian, there's a sense that people aren't putting him or you on the same level as themselves. It's this weird, super-Christian mentality," said one of the interviewees. And this sentiment is true, and it is sad, and it is wrong, and it is against everything that Jesus tells us and lived out about the crux of his gospel being located in service.
What is most important for me to say in this whole conversation, ...1
Already a CT subscriber? Log in for full digital access.
Subscribe to Christianity Today and get access to this article plus 60+ years of archives.
- Home delivery of CT magazine
- Complete access to articles on ChristianityToday.com
- Over 120 years of magazine archives plus full access to all of CT’s online archives
- Learn more