1. Your life is ruled by pastorly acronyms.
It doesn’t matter what the denomination, your dinner table discussions were focused around PMLS classes, Conference jargon, and the always-hard-not-to-laugh-at PPR (PP is always funny) committee meeting updates. Sure, school is fun to talk about for ten minutes or so, but then the grown-ups wanted to talk about their secret shorthand letters and The Lord.
2. Everyone at school expects you to be very well behaved…
3. …until you got to high school/college and everyone waits for you to slut up.
There’s really no winning here. In elementary school, the others kids would try to bait you with their extra breadstick on spaghetti day to get you to say damn as a fun preacher kid game and once high school came the teachers all winked as you walked by, telling you “we all know how preacher’s kids really are”. Do you? Because I’m neither reading my bible by candlelight on Halloween while burning Grand Theft Auto nor am I having sex with my twin next-door neighbors simultaneously while screaming HAIL SATAN. Usually I’m just, you know, watching Netflix and looking up how to make my hair less frizzy, but if you like to think of me doing that while working on my Moses voodoo dolls so be it.
4. You are best friends with every preacher in your state.
Now I don’t know how the rest of you denominations do it, but in mine, the state is all connected. My mom knows everyone. My dad was a pastor when I was born. My grandpa was a pastor since dinosaurs ruled the earth. I KNOW EVERYONE. This means two things. 1. I cannot lie about going to any church event. Even though I now live three hours from home, I still live in state. So every Sunday when my mom asks if I went to church, I can’t say yes and then list off somewhere because she knows the preacher and will know I’m lying. However, this also means 2. If I am fundraising, in need of dinner, or am feeling generally without fatherly/motherly assistance, I have a phone full of middle-age (I’m being generous) preachers who are willing to listen to me berate them because their kids are grown and they forgot how much they miss that. For this, I am truly grateful. Sandra, it’s time for us to have lunch!
5. Religion got complicated growing up.
I know religion is complicated for everyone at some point in life, but for preacher’s kids, it gets real and it gets real awkward. As a PK, you grow up in a church (I literally lived in a church parking lot for 12 years. If that’s not symbolic, what is). It is ingrained into every aspect of home and social life, and it’s hard to disagree with parents, especially when you’re young. When that rebellious phase comes and you decide you don’t want to do this church business anymore, but then Sunday comes and you cross the parking lot to go to church because you’re under 18 and your mom makes you go and people you’ve known since you were 11 are waiting for you to be their shining preacher’s kid of smiles and joy, well—you learn to draw inappropriate pictures with your siblings on the bulletins and mock your parent from the pew and stuff that rebellion inside until you’re on your own.
6. You will never be religious enough.
Trust me. You will meet someone and tell them that you are a preacher’s kid (or a double/triple/grand/great-grand) and they will look at you with that judgey look and will see your tattoos and will hear you say the phrase sexy times and it’s all over (I am speaking from experience on a daily basis…). It doesn’t matter if you literally smack them on the face with a Bible you are reading at THAT moment, there will be something that doesn’t meet their expectations of you—but that’s okay. The only one who gets to decide if you’re religious enough is you. Put THAT in your pipe and smoke it, third grade teacher Mrs. Wood!
7. PK perks are real. Enjoy them.
Never forget the treats of being the child/grandchild/little sibling of an entire congregation. You will get birthday cards, Christmas cards, graduation cards, money for all of these occasions, gifts, moral support, and friends for an entire lifetime. My mom was a pastor at the same church from the time I was 11-22 and during that time the church helped me to pay for a trip to Uganda, gave me the only surprise birthday party of my entire life, and embraced me despite all of my flaws in number 6 and beyond. Being a PK is a responsibility and burden, but never forget—it is also a gift and a joy denied to many that they couldn’t and, unfortunately, won’t understand.