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How to Survive Being a Pastor’s Kid

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Growing up in small-town Texas isn’t easy. Knowing everyone like they’re your next door neighbor, with everyone gossiping about the same person all at once, was never fun.

Being the non-denominational, semi-popular New Life Church pastor’s kid, however, was considerably worse. Though I am no Marvin Gaye or Katy Perry of the PK world, I would say I was treated as a “Shertown” celebrity during my days of ruling as Presidential Preacher’s Kid.

The entire congregation—really, the entire town—expected me to either be perfect and grow up to be the spitting image of my father, or to completely screw my life up once I got to my teen years. As Wikipedia puts it, there are two stereotypes of pastor’s kids: the bratty angels and the daredevils. I’d like to say I turned into a mixture of both of these things, owing to my innate desire to piss everyone off.

While the trickery and fun and games of being watched all the time like a celebrity can be quite the adrenaline rush, there are a few tidbits of information I wish I had known ahead of time. There are certain ways to play the game of being a PK. Consider this the essential guide to the ways and worries of the most ironic small-town celebrity.

Public Defamation Preparation

Don't be afraid of the congregation's words. They will slander you and murder your public image, and are not the least bit afraid to embarrass you.

While you think they might hurt your reputation in your early teen years, know that it only gets worse. Keep your friends close, but your enemies closer. A smile always beats tears. As for the false accusations, blow them off like they never happened. Because they didn’t, right?

Ingredients Needed in Your Daily Life

  1. A bible. Whether you are the little miss perfect everyone believes you to be, loving Jesus all day long, or you are a non-believer, you have to keep them guessing somehow. Uphold yourself in knowing a few verses, just in case anyone questions your legitimacy.
  2. Friends who don’t know about your so-called “celebrity” image. Someone has to be oblivious to your title. And you want people who actually love you for you.
  3. A sense of self-confidence. Though I list this as the final ingredient, it is by far the most important of the three. Without confidence in yourself and your beliefs, whatever they might be, you are destined to fall.

One thing that troubled me deeply during my years as a PK, which ended when I was 15 and my dad retired from the church, is everyone’s interest in what your beliefs are. If I encourage one thing above all, it is to figure that out for yourself.

Though my dad was very accepting, and still is accepting, of my individualism, I realize all PKs are not as lucky as this. Pastor’s kids are their own people, in spite of the stereotypes, and only you, as the child, can choose how others view you. I did not truly explore what my beliefs were until after my dad stopped preaching. However, just because he stopped preaching didn’t mean people didn’t still know me as Mike Murphy’s daughter. But keep your head up, because it does have its advantages. If only everyone got a clergy discount, everyone would want to be the child of the pastor in the pulpit.

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About Courtney Murphy

  • http://pastorskiddiary.wordpress.com/ Calvin

    Dear Courtney, thanks for the post. Please keep it up, as a PK I am constantly dealing with the same things this is helpful. I wonder if you have any more helpful advices for things I am going through.

  • http://pastorskiddiary.wordpress.com/ Calvin

    Actually I wonder what you mean by “keeping your enemies closer?”

  • Brenda

    Pk are always judged in the church and always will be because the average member wants to be us because they look at us as rock stars having the good life but if they only knew the hell we go through. My father always put us second to the church & its members.