The Pastor's Kid
- Product Review (submitted on June 14, 2014):
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.