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The Send Network Church Planting Blog

Redeeming the PK: Finding your identity in Christ

July 11, 2017 by Send Network

Emily Abella is a 20-year-old college student at The College at Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary. She is currently studying history with a minor in Christian studies. Emily is the oldest of six kids and is also a pastor’s kid. This is her experience being a PK.

I have always been a ministry kid. Even before my dad was an ordained pastor, he was always super involved in leading youth and young adults. When I was eight years old, he was ordained and officially became a pastor and that is really where my PK journey started.

Being a pastor’s kid definitely has its ups and downs. By the grace of God, there have mainly been ups for me. A lot of pastor’s kids reject ministry or have a bad taste toward it, but I actually have a desire for ministry in the future.

There have been times where I have struggled with people who hold me to a different standard because of my dad’s job, which has been hard. When I was younger, I remember occasionally having issues with friends and people would say, “I can’t believe the pastor’s daughter would do this or say that.” That was difficult for me.

My father is a church planter, and we left a large Hispanic church in Miami that didn’t really understand the concept of church planting. Unfortunately, some even saw it as betrayal, and I remember hearing the ugly things people would say about my dad. But those are some of the not so nice parts of being a pastor’s kid.

I think the root of my challenges stem from where I find my identity, though. As a pastor’s kid, I have had to fight against the temptation of finding my identity in what my dad does for a living. If someone would say something about my dad, I felt that was a reflection of what they thought of me. My parents have been great counselors to me through this, but it is hard not to find my identity in the expectations felt of being a pastor’s kid; it’s just my natural instinct.

I have to ask myself, “Am I finding my identity in what Christ says about me?” I need to remember that I am covered in His blood and saved by His grace. As I have grown with a steady understanding of who God is and who I am in relation to Him, I have realized that my dad is also my brother in Christ. We are both saved by grace—he is a sinner and I am a sinner—so my dad and his job are not what’s going to save me. God has called him to a very high calling of pastoral ministry and that is his calling, not mine. I have been called to be holy—not because of my dad but because of my Heavenly Father.

After talking with other pastor’s kids, we agree there are times when the balance of being a pastor and a dad is off. They can more like pastor within the home instead of just being dad. I think that was something my dad was more aware of as he started ministry. There have been more difficult seasons like planting Providence Road Church, because we all had to be help in order to see our dad more. But it was a joy to help, and it was fun to do things together. Of course it was still hard at times. When the plant settled, the balance was back. But, there will always be seasons of craziness as a pastor’s kid.

Now that I am in college, I love coming back and seeing the church and my dad preach. Being in college has helped me to step back and better see what he does. It has also helped me better pray for him in his role as pastor.

As I have gotten older I have noticed that the joys truly do outweigh the struggles. I would encourage other pastor’s kids to dig into the Word on their own terms. Taking on that ownership instead of just hearing it at church, or a Bible study, or in your parents at home, has been one of the most helpful things for me. Understanding that God’s Word is living and active was huge for me in understanding the gospel. That is what has helped me not become bitter toward the harder aspects of being a pastor’s kid.

I would also encourage them to preach the gospel to themselves constantly. Listen to preaching from other pastors—not just your dad. This is so much bigger than just your church. The global Church is huge and Christ died for the entire Church. Hearing the preaching of other pastors is great to hear the gospel from people other than just your dad.