Dad may be following God’s call, but the Pastor’s kids (PKs) are just following mom and dad. Often to devastating results.
Barnabas Piper – son of Pastor and bestselling author John Piper – has experienced the challenges of being a PK first-hand. With empathy, humor, and personal stories, he addresses the pervasive assumptions, identity issues and accelerated scrutiny PKs face.
But more than just stating the problems – he shares the one thing a PK needs above all else (as do their pastor/father and church) is to live in true freedom and wholeness.
- must reading for churches, pastors and of course, pastor’s kids
This is part memoir, and part self-help. And it isn’t all Piper’s memoir, as he shares stories from countless pastor’s kids he interviewed in preparation for the book. Some of them are not in the faith anymore, and it does us good to wonder why. Barnabus’ prescription calls for grace and care for children, and a proper set of expectations. He also gives hope to those who have been burned, or are wondering what they can possibly due at this stage in the game.
I particularly appreciated his emphasis on legalism. This excerpt resonates well with me:
"Not everything is right or wrong, true or false, yes or no. The PK needs some maybes and sort ofs. If every question is answered in black and white and every decision judged as right or wrong, the PK never learns to make value decisions. In fact, he never learns values at all. He just learns to dance the morality two-step and avoid getting out of step with what’s ‘good’ or ‘true.’ If every question is given a concrete answer and no room is left for exploration or doubt, the PK is forced to either acquiesce or bury his doubts where they can fester and rot his faith." (p. 83)
I listened to the Christianaudio version of the book. This was extra special in that Barnabus Piper himself was the one reading his book. This made listening to the book more poignant as his passion for his book’s message was evident.
This book is well-written and preaches an important message. I don’t know of any other similar book that is designed to both help those who have been hurt, and equip those in the ministry now who are raising another generation of children. Cautions are raised and challenges issued, but grace and hope pervade the book. This is must reading for churches, pastors and of course, pastor’s kids.
Disclaimer: This book was provided by Christianaudio. The reviewer was under no obligation to offer a positive review.
- Helpful Insight Into The Struggles Of PKs
The Pastor's Kid by Barnabas Piper is a fascinating book written by the son of well known theologian, John Piper, about the struggles and trials of being a pastor's kid and in his case a very famous pastor's kid. He discusses the unrealistic expectations that congregation members have toward pastor's kids because of their parent's occupation and calling. He explains that they are just normal people like the congregation members and are bound to make mistakes, take wrong directions and struggle at times with who God has called them to be.
At first I thought this book was a bit of a whinge about having a difficult life because of having a famous dad that put a lot of pressure on him and other pastor's kids but I think there is a lot more to this book. I learnt a lot about helping make pastor's kids journey easier by giving them grace and allowing them room to find God for themselves rather than just questioning everything they do and pointing out all the places they have missed the mark.
I have known quite a few pastor's kids and I was good friends with a couple of them, some of them could handle the pressure better than others. Most are still committed members of church and I think the whole situation is handled better than it was 20 years ago but books like this should help improve the situation even further.
The narrator was quite well done as it was the author reading the book and it is a very personal book, so it was good to hear his emotion coming out through the reading. He also read at a good pace and spoke clearly making it easy listening.
This book would be great for anyone involved in church, in particular for pastor's kids to help them cope with the added pressure they are under but also for church members to understand what the pastor's kids are encountering and trying to help them rather than hinder them.
This audio book was gifted as a part of the christianaudio Reviewers Program in exchange for my unbiased review of this work. More information can be found about this and other Christian audio books at christianaudio.com.
- Very honest and valuable
I was really interested to hear what Barnabas Piper, son of famous Baptist preacher John Piper, had to say in his new book, The Pastor’s Kid. I’m not a “PK,” but my four sons are. I want to understand the unique challenges they face, and I was hoping this book would give me some valuable insight.
For the most part, I wasn’t disappointed. Piper narrates his own book, which I love because you can really hear his heart as he relates this very personal, yet practical book. There are expressions of pain, confessions, impassioned pleas, and, yes, even indictments of his famous father all throughout the work. This must have been a tough book to write. John Piper admits in his touching forward to the book that it was a painful book for him to read as a father.
Barnabas Piper is about my age, and I appreciated his pop culture references and dry humor. He’s a straightforward, plain writer, and I mean that in a good way. His message lands hard and true: Pastors, be mindful of what your unique public role means for the way your child will view the church and the world around them. Church, be sensitive to the family of your pastor. Topics include a description what it’s like to live in “the fishbowl” of public ministry along with a pastor father, and tips for pastor fathers who are trying to relate to their PK. Very valuable information!
I recommend this book for grown PKs who may need some help and healing after a difficult upbringing. I especially recommend this book for pastors with kids for some equipping in understanding and supporting their own PKs.
Please Note: This audiobook was gifted as a part of the Christianaudio Reviewers Program in exchange for my unbiased review of this work. This has in no way influenced my opinion or review of this work.
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- Must read for Pastor's kids and church leaders
I’m a pastor’s kid but I’m more than that, I’m the father of five pastor’s kids and that’s exactly why I was so intrigued by this book written by Pastor John Piper’s son Barnabas Piper called “Pastor’s Kid”!
My wife and I had a bit of driving to do over the weekend so we plugged the iPod and spent the trip listening to this book!
The first thing I noticed about the book is that John Piper wrote the foreword. As the father of the pastor’s kid who wrote this book it must have been a bit hard for him to read and it was!
We listened to the audio version which is narrated by the author, Barnabas Piper, which is both good and bad. You could certainly hear some of the passion coming through in a few sections of the book that detail some painful times for Barnabas. However, there were other times when his reading was a bit dry but that’s understandable since he’s not really a professional reader.
The book is written with Pastor’s families and churches in mind. It takes pastors and their churches to task for the often double standard that is held for the pastor’s kids.
As I listened to the book there were times when I could hear a bit of cynicism coming through. It was obvious that Barnabas had been through a lot growing up as the son of a mega-church pastor! Most of the book deals with Barnabas’ personal experience but he does often quote other pastor’s kids as he comments on the problems of growing up in the pastor’s home.
Despite Barnabas’ cynicism and taking churches to task for having one standard for the pastor’s kid and another standard for everyone else’s kids in the church, he strikes a theme of grace in chapter eight. I found this refreshing. He also offers some helpful advice on how pastors and churches should relate to pastor’s kids.
Personally I found the book helpful for me to understand some of what I went through growing up and even more helpful as it gave me pause to stop and think about what my children might be going through right now and how I can graciously help them see Jesus in the midst of it all.
- The Pastor's Kid by Barnabas Piper Review
The Pastor's Kid: Finding Your Own Faith and Identity by Barnabas Piper, son of Pastor John Piper, is a book I wish was written a long time ago. Unlike many PKs (Pastor’s Kids), I did not grow up as a PK, but became one when I was around twelve. The transition from being an “average” churchgoer to a PK was an interesting transition. There were many times I was full of joy, but I have also experienced the pain and frustrations of being a PK.
As I read Barnabas’s book, I kept telling myself that I wish I had this when I first became a PK. Barnabas discusses a number of issues PKs struggle with and situations they have to face. While each PK is different, I think most PKs will relate to a good bit of this book.
I appreciated Barnabas’s honesty. I felt like he was giving a voice to PKs, who don’t always get to have a voice. While I may not agree fully with everything in this book, I found it to be extremely powerful. There were times I was able to relate to situations Barnabas was talking about and it made me feel good knowing that I am not the only one who has gone through something. I also enjoyed how Barnabas integrated other PKs into the book by quoting something from them. This took the book to another level for me.
I think many people in the church do not know what PKs and their families go through and I think this book sheds light on that. I highly recommend this book as it challenged me in my views and helped me view my role as a PK differently. I also think this would be a good read for a number of individuals in a congregation-to help them get a better understanding of the pressures PKs have placed on them and how they may be contributing to the unneeded stress and frustrations.
Barnabas also had a chapter for the parents of a PK. I found this to be very beneficial as well. I think there are times when pastors and their wives can get caught up in church without thinking of the effect it can have on the rest of the family. I think Barnabas did a nice job handling this as well.
I reviewed the audiobook version of this book and I thoroughly enjoyed it. I really liked that it was read by Barnabas because I really enjoy books that are read by the author. I actually ordered a print copy of this book after listening to the audiobook because I found the book to be that helpful.
I received a copy of this audiobook from the christianaudio Reviewers Program in exchange for my honest review. I was not required to write a positive review and all opinions are my own.
- Worth Reading
I admit I was curious to hear what the son of one of my favorite authors would say about his upbringing… But I believe I can honestly say that my most powerful motivation in picking up this (audio) book was to gain wisdom about how to spare my own children from as many of the negative consequences of being a “PK” as possible. (I’m a P of a sort, and I have two K’s—and one on the way.) Neither motivation was quite satisfied, and I think that’s okay. It was still a worthwhile book.
Barnabas’ father gets it right in the preface: the book can be something of a downer, but all throughout you can sense that Barnabas is a true follower of Christ—and you can skip to chapter 8 if you need a grace infusion. I actually took this advice, then went back and listened to the chapters I’d skipped.
I did get many valuable tidbits from the book, and I appreciated how Barnabas did not give in to the temptation to relate juicy details from the Piper household. Not that he isn’t authentic; but he did seem to me to be pretty careful not to gossip. Unless I missed it, he never told his own story of straying and repentance in any but the barest outline. I think that was wise, a show of love for God and for readers. It seems to me to be part of the point of the book that the PK’s private details are just that.
I did feel a number of times, I admit, that Barnabas should have boiled this entire book down to an article making a few points:
PKs are often judged more harshly than others, and they feel singled out and like they can’t be truly known.
PKs need their dads to be dads, not pastoral counselors.
PKs should not be asked questions about their fathers’ thoughts on any subject.
PKs are just normal kids, not Bible scholars.
Pastors should not use ministry to excuse workaholism but should make their families primary—without shirking their ministry duties, either.
Churches demand too much of their pastors.
Being a PK is, both because of and in spite of the foregoing points, a valuable training ground for future ministry.
Barnabas was strongest when speaking from personal experience. True to point 4 above, this isn’t a book full of deep exegetical or theological insight. But it definitely contains practical wisdom.
And because of point 4, I’m going to go soft on him with regard to theological stuff. I’ll only say a) that he was nothing less than dismissive of 1 Tim 3:4 and Titus 1:6; and b) that he’s vague about the non-essential theological differences he wishes pastors would let their kids have with them as they grow. I found this a little off-putting—like we should trust PKs over their pastor-fathers to determine whether a given theological difference is significant or not. But the point was well taken that PKs are expected to stay in the slice of Christianity they grew up in, and Barnabas felt (what he believed to be) undue pressure not to defect from that slice. There’s wisdom there: I need to stay aware of the pressures my kids face, including that one.
One other little point for my own slice of Christianity: it struck me that Barnabas Piper, son of the man who wrote a (not the) book on grace, still levied the charge of legalism at his upbringing. He wasn’t very specific, and he wasn’t nasty. But he sounded exactly like countless of my ex-fundamentalist Facebook friends—and like me sometimes, truth be known. He speaks with love and appreciation for the spiritual leaders God gave him as a young person, but he feels in some unspecified way that they were too strict and didn’t explain their rules. Here’s my point: moving one or two slices to the “left” may or may not rid you of the problems you thought you left behind. I just couldn’t help but think of an extremely penetrating essay I read from Timothy Larsen of Wheaton College a while back: he pointed out that one reason we remember our teachers as being simplistic is that they were trying to teach us, and that’s all we could receive. Perhaps our memories of past legalism are not truly just.
Barnabas himself read the book on the recording I received free from Christian Audio. I do tend to prefer hearing the author. You get a feel for his feelings, and that’s valuable. Barnabas did a good job. And he has performed a valuable service for Christ’s body in writing this little book.
- Interesting Read to learn Piper's kids and more importantly My Own!
I was immediately interested in a review copy of this book from Christian Audio for two reasons.
One, a book called The Pastor's Kid: Finding Your Own Faith and Identity was written by a Pastor's Kid, but not by just any Pastor's Kid... It was the Pastor's Kid of all Pastor's Kids... Barnabas Piper (Son of John Piper). That is interesting.
There is a bit of sarcasm there, obviously. Barnabas Piper isn't really the Pastor's Kid of all Pastor's Kids. Especially since John Piper has other kids! And yet... there is still something in the name. A book written by any of John Piper's children would be of some interest to me, and surely he knows that as well.
Second, and this reason is a bit more important to my heart, I have two Pastor's Kids living in my house. They are my two sons, and I have an ongoing concern for them. As far as I can tell, my boys are doing great. I love them to death, they are not perfect, but I am exceptionally proud of both of them. They both display talents and skills that remind me of myself, but also far exceed myself. They seem to be doing well, and for the most part, happy with life and aware of those spiritual realities that pertain to them. But I am not so naive to believe that my being a Pastor, and especially a bi-vocational Pastor, doesn't have an affect on their lives... and I'm sure it isn't all positive.
So, my interest was piqued, now it was time to listen:
I found this book to be very convicting. Barnabas Piper writes with an openness and honesty that had a tendency to cut deep. It was eye-opening. I became aware of many things that my boys encounter, that I hadn't put much thought into the affect on their lives. It was honest. He was transparent about his home life with its positives and negatives. It was interesting to hear him say that he didn't really care about John Piper's sermons... they aren't that important to him... but then he said that he would much rather sit down with his dad and have a conversation. In other words, he isn't really concerned about Pastor John Piper, but he loves John Piper his dad. Interesting, isn't it?
This book was also Biblical. I will admit, not as Biblical as John Piper's books, but this book was personal and experiential in nature, which changes things. But it was still Biblical. Through the course of this book, as challenges were shared, he continually pointed back to the Grace of God found in Christ.
This book was also filled with quotes from several other PK's from around the country. Their insights were very valuable to me, and it has given me something to consider about my own children's lives.
Barnabas Piper did the audio of this book as well. I love when a book is read by its author. There is something extra that comes through when the author takes the time to read through their own work. There are bits that might not have seemed important, that because of the way the author reads those lines, you know there was something meaningful there.
I would recommend this book, not just to Pastors or their Kids, but to anyone in a church. What a PK faces is somewhat unique. Everyone in the church should keep this in mind and remember that PK's are sinners too, just like you. And PK's need the grace of God, just like you.
- Great book for everyone to read, PK or not!
Don't be fooled by the title of this book, it's not just for Pastors' kids (PKs). I believe that Pastors, their spouses, and even their congregations will benefit from it. Barnabas Piper, son of well known Pastor John Piper, writes this book about the struggles that PKs face.
There are false expectations placed on PKs from their fathers, mothers, as well as the church. Piper shares stories from other PK's as well as some of his own, while explaining the life of a PK. This book sheds light on the hurtful and at times detrimental interactions and perceptions that are had between their fathers, mothers, and the church- to the point that you may feel your toes being stepped on, if you have done any of the things he warns about. But throughout the entire book is the undercurrent of Grace. His words are rooted in the Gospel and a love for Jesus- which is a message for everyone and a message delivered solidly by this book I especially encourage Pastors and their spouses to read this book, so you can avoid some of the traps that are listed. In the foreward, written by John Piper, he states that the book was tough to read, but that when he finished he gave it to his 17 year old daughter, still living at home, and had honest dialogue about whether any changes need to be made.
The audio book is narrated by Barnabas Piper and I think this is a benefit, because as the author of the book he has perfectly placed inflections and emphasis on the words he's reading. I enjoyed listening to this book, but whether you read it or listen to it, I highly recommend it.
Thank you christianaudio Reviewer's Program for the audio version of this book in exchange for my honest review.
- Open, honest, challenging, and sometimes painful
“What’s it like to be John Piper’s kid?” That question is one that Barnabas Piper lets us know is better not asked. Pastor’s kids like Barnabas would far rather you get to know them personally than ask them about their dads. In fact, he lets us know a lot about growing up as the child of a pastor in his new book, The Pastor’s Kid. Open, honest, challenging, and sometimes painful, this new work from the son of popular pastor John Piper is a very helpful tool for pastors and their families to work through.
Barnabas has a knack for helping us to see things from the point of view of the pastor’s kid (PK). He shares with us some valuable insights about things that might seem innocent and helpful but which are in fact discouraging and awkward for a PK. The author shares joys and pains from his own life as well as from the lives of many other PKs in order to help preacher dads understand ways to better communicate with and set expectations for their children.
As a pastor myself, one with children I might add, I found this book thought provoking and helpful. One thought that particularly got my attention is that of a PK being known of, but not actually known as a person, by many in the church. Barnabas tells of a time when his dad shared an illustration from Barnabas’ own childhood. This was not one of those embarrassing illustrations for which a pastor would think he needed to get special permission. But what John Piper did not understand at the time was that his telling of Barnabas’ story actually made people in the church, and subsequently on the Internet, more acquainted with the details of Barnabas’ life than he would eventually be comfortable with. Thus, Barnabas would have people he did not know come up to him and comment to him or ask about personal details of his life. These people assumed a familiarity with him and rights that they had not earned through personal investment or friendship.
Much of the book is devoted to challenging pastors to help their kids to be seen and thought of as “normal.” It is unfair for a pastor’s kid to have extra expectations placed upon him or her for advanced Bible knowledge, super-spiritual behavior, or a calling to ministry. Pastor’s kids are normal, human, flawed, and growing young men and women. They will fail and succeed, behave well and act out, just like any other kids in the church. While a pastor is called to raise and shepherd his own family well, the pastor’s kids are still going to be cut from the same cloth as all other human kids, complete with a sin nature, puberty, and a need to figure life out for themselves.
The biggest weakness in this book to me is the fact that we do not get to see enough of the positive aspects of being a pastor’s kid. Though Barnabas talks about some of his joys in his relationship with his dad, much of the book focuses us on the failures of pastors and churches to allow PKs to be kids. Obviously, the intent of this work is to swing hard and to get the attention of pastors who may be oblivious to their kids’ needs, and so I am certainly willing to say that this is not a major flaw. However, I would have liked more, perhaps even a whole chapter or two, on the good side of the ledger.
All in all, I would highly recommend The Pastor’s Kid to any ministry family. It would also make a great book for other church leaders to read. Deacons, lay elders, and Sunday School teachers could learn much of what their own church’s PKs are going through if they gave this book a quick read.
I received a free audio copy of this work from ChristianAudio.com as part of their reviewers program. This book was read by Barnabas Piper. While I typically do not enjoy a book read by its own author, Barnabas has a good reading voice and pace. And, because the stories are his own, I find it actually quite helpful to hear his stories with his own emotion attached.
- A pastor’s kid talks to pastors and other pastor’s kids about being a pastor’s kid.
I am a pastor's kid, and most of my extended family is either pastors or pastor's kids (or both). So I picked this book up with both interest and experience.
This is a pretty short book (about 140 pages of content or 3 hours of audio). John Piper introduces it and acknowledges that at time the book was hard for him to read because it is being written by his son about the problems of being a pastor’s kid. But John Piper wants to assure the reader that anything critical is about wanting what’s best for the church as a whole and pastor’s families in particular.
The end really hits that tone by concluding with all of the good that can come of being a pastor’s kid. Personally, that is where I and most other pastor’s kids I know end up. All in all, we are glad we were pastor’s kids.
But the main section between the introduction and that concluding chapter can feel a little bit like Barnabas Piper is wagging his finger at you, either because you are a pastor that is not doing enough for your kid, or because you are a church member that expecting too much out of the pastor and his family (always his here), or because you are the pastor’s kid and you need to take some responsibility for yourself.
All of these things are true individually. Pastors really do need to protect their family and model a balanced Christian life, not just for the sake of their family, but also for the sake of their church. Churches need to have appropriate expectations and allow pastor’s families to not be perfect. Pastor’s kids need to take some responsibility for how they deal with occasionally inappropriate expectations and sometime rude or intrusive people.
But the tone of the book felt a little off, and that may be more of an audiobook issue than actual content issue. Barnabas is reading it himself and it seems a little too intense in his reading.
However, his message is important. Pastor’s kids, like all kids that grow up in the church (just more so) need to discover the grace of Christianity personally. That is certainly one of the common issues of a PK. If you absorb the message that image is what is important about Christianity, then you fall into legalism. Barnabas also details a number of other ways that PKs miss the actual message of Christ.
There are also three good chapters about what a PK needs from their church, from their pastor/father and what the church needs from the pastor as a father.
One of the good quotes that I think is about good parenting, not just being a good parent of a pastor’s kid is, ‘when you are a child, play is love.’
The audience is a bit unclear. I think pastors should read it to become better aware of the issues that are common among pastor’s kids. I think a number of lay church members should also read it to get a better idea of the way that churches place undue pressure on the pastor’s family. But in general it is a book that is written to the pastor’s kids themselves. And most of the problems of being a pastor’s kid are set as a child, when you are too young to read the book. By your early 20s or 30s, you either have come to terms with your status and don’t need the book, or you haven’t and in many ways the focus of preventing problems that is in the book, is too late.
Even with my concerns, I think this is a book that is worth reading and important for many.