Redeeming the PK: The perks outweigh the challenges

Madelyn Joy Kwak is a sophomore in high school and the oldest of four children. Madelyn is also a pastor’s kid. This is her experience being a PK.

I have been a pastor’s kid for basically my entire life. Even before I was born my dad was heavily involved in ministry.

When I was younger, I was very shy and introverted, so one of my earlier challenges was breaking out of my comfort zone as a pastor’s kid and talking to people. I especially felt this when my dad decided to plant a church in 2010. I was nine years old, and it was difficult for me because I had to leave all of my friends at our previous church. The new church’s children’s ministry was my siblings and me. If I wanted new kids to come join our church, I had to be welcoming to them, so I really forced myself to be more open and inviting to new kids.

I had always stayed away from the spotlight but, as the oldest daughter of the head pastor, as well as the oldest in the children’s ministry, I felt the pressure of the expectations from others within the small church plant. A lot of people looked at me, or even used me, as the example of how a kid should act. At times it felt unfair, but in hindsight I think it forced me into a leadership role, which was good for me.

Honestly, I think a lot of the pressure I felt was pressure I put on myself—pressure to know all the answers in Sunday School, pressure to be a good older sister and pressure to be a perfect example. As I’ve gotten older, I’ve realized I don’t have to be perfect and I shouldn’t act like I am. I have my own sin problems, and it’s okay to share them with others. Jesus is the perfect example, not me. I would encourage other pastor’s kids to realize that everyone deals with sin, that’s why Jesus came! We shouldn’t try and act perfect or put on a show. We should share our struggles with others so we can pray for and help each other.

It’s been really cool to see the church grow from a group of around 30 to around 300, but that also means I’ve seen people come and go. I think one of the hardest things is seeing people leave.

Also, as in all churches, there’ve been issues where people have gotten into arguments and disagreements. I think it’s hard for me because I see a different side than most people. It’s definitely difficult to see my parents having to struggle through and figure out how to deal with those situations. Although it’s my dad’s job, it still feels very personal to me.

Another challenge I went through personally was people assuming that I was saved or that I had a good spiritual life just because I was the pastor’s kid. I didn’t become a Christian until I was 14, but before then, I think a lot of people assumed I was okay because of my PK status or because I was a good kid in general. I wish people would have asked me about my faith more, especially before I was saved. I think people tend to assume things about your spiritual life.

People always talk about the pressures, but I also feel like there are a lot of perks. For one, we’re invited to a ton of weddings! And when my dad is invited to speak at or attend conferences or retreats, sometimes we get to make a fun family vacation out of it! Also, people in the church definitely tend to trust me more with their kids! I get to hold babies almost every Sunday.

It’s also great getting to know so many people. Like I said, I used to be really shy, which might actually be surprising to people who now know me as pretty outgoing. This outgoingness definitely came from being forced to be welcoming when I was younger. I developed a lot more socially, which probably wouldn’t have happened if my dad wasn’t a pastor.

Overall, I really love being a pastor’s kid and being involved in the church. I enjoy helping out with children’s ministry, and I could even see myself working at a church in their children’s ministry in the future. I would encourage other pastor’s kids to also pray through their issues, not be afraid to find someone they can trust to talk to about the hard stuff, and enjoy the perks!

Published July 10, 2017