rebelling against low expectations

My Life as a Pastor’s Kid – Anton’s Story


In reading the book of Leviticus — I’ve wondered what it must have been like to live in the home of a priest.

Seeing your dad praying for the people, coming home, exhausted and covered in blood as a result of the dozens of sacrifices he had made that day must have been strange.

But then I suppose that’s not too far removed from the life I’ve led.


The life of a PK is marked by unusual activities such as being at church five times a week, having Friday nights planned out in advance, regular meals and visits from church members, giving up your room for a missionary or pastor in-transit and having your dad leave after dinner to go and attend an elders/deacons meeting or visit someone in hospital.

Let’s face the facts — this is not a normal childhood.

As a PK, you only realize this toward the end of primary school, and even then you don’t know the full extent of it until way into high school and beyond.

Growing up as a young boy in a pastor’s home I saw my dad at work almost every day.

To my knowledge, this is unusual — most kids may see their dad doing his work once or twice in their lives, or never.

At home my dad was a counsellor after dinner, spending time locked behind the study doors listening to and advising various people from the Word of God.

During the day he would be preparing his sermon in his office at the church. Normally, on a Sunday he would leave the house to go and pray before I had even woken up.

Later I would sit in the pews and listen to him speaking with an authority that came from outside of himself and explaining what was written in the Bible with a seriousness and gravity that I seldom saw at home.

He was presenting The Sacrifice for people to embrace.

My life was not too dissimilar to the one I imagined from Leviticus.

My dad was, of course, more than just a priest — and that’s where the difference comes.

Many people knew my dad as the Pastor.

I knew my dad was dad, when we were having supper or he was helping me with a school project, or tucking me in at night.

He was my coach on the sports field, encouraging me and shouting instructions from the sidelines.

He was my mentor, teaching me to be a man and do manly things.

But in every activity he lived, Coram Deo — before the face of God.

Although he was a sinner, he was no hypocrite and so God and the Bible were very much a part of my life every day.

7 Negatives About Being a PK

There are negatives to being a pastor’s son, let’s call them sacrifices.

  • For starters, you can count on leaving church last after every service. Other kids cant imagine this. For them, after the benediction its tea time and then home time. Most PK’s on the other hand, know well what the church looks like in the dark, with no one else in it and how to lock it up.
  • A second negative is a lack of privacy and quiet. A minister’s home is a constant buzz of activity. The question after church on Sunday is not, “What are we having for lunch?” It is, “Who are we having for lunch?” In addition, as I have already mentioned, during the week people come over for dinner and counselling, there may be a bible study on a Wednesday night, and certainly in my house, we entertained a multitude of missionaries.
  • A third negative is the scrutiny of others. People expect more of PKs as far as behavior is concerned. People expect that you know the Scriptures better than other children your age and if you think you can remain anonymous, think again because everyone knows the PKs.
  • A fourth negative is not one that is exclusive to PKs, nor is it actually negative. As a PK you have a lot of rules from your parents — they’re strict and consistent. As you speak to non-christian friends, a growing feeling that you are getting the raw end of the deal with your parents begins to fester. You realize that you’re the only one who cant play sport on Sunday, or watch a particular movie with your friends or take part in certain activities. A lot of this doesn’t seem to make sense or be fair.
  • A fifth negative is that people will ask you whether you are going to be a preacher like your dad so many times that you eventually begin to feel guilty that you don’t want to be one. I have never had a desire, or felt a call to the ministry but I often felt like I was disappointing people (not my parents) by saying so.
  • A sixth negative for me was that when I was converted, I didn’t have a dramatic, Damascus Road experience like so many other Christians. Having been brought up in a christian home, my behaviour was always quite good. It was my mind, and my heart that showed my need of a saviour. This meant that I struggled with assurance of salvation for years. I still can’t tell you when I was saved. I know it was around the end of primary school but for me it was a process, with no fireworks or 180° turnaround. It took a lot of prayer and wrestling before God made me comfortable with the way I had been converted. I thank God for His grace in saving me from the rebellious childhood experienced by so many other PKs.
  • Lastly, your life can change dramatically in a short space of time should your dad be called to another church. It means, saying goodbye to your friends, packing up, leaving school and starting again somewhere else. I only had to do this once but it wasn’t easy.

7 Positives About Being a PK

On the other hand, there are many many positives to being a PK, and in my opinion, they far outweigh the negatives. In fact, I found that as I grew up, came to know Jesus and got a new heart, I came to see many of the negatives as positives.

  • The most obvious positive is being exposed to the Truth so often. I know that I am speaking from a human perspective when I say this, but I am sure that I would never have been saved if I had not been exposed to the Word so often and been able to ask questions of my dad whenever I couldn’t understand something. I still marvel at the fact that God caused me to be born into the family that He did, rather than into some Muslim family in Saudi Arabia, where I never would have heard the Truth.
  • Another positive is that, given people’s expectations, you do actually know your bible and doctrine better than other kids your age, or at least that was my experience. I grew up believing in things such as God’s sovereignty, man’s sinfulness, etc. As I grew in my knowledge of the Scriptures, these things were just confirmed.
  • You are forced into ministry life. By that I mean that you are at church so often, you naturally become involved with ministry yourself. You learn what it is to serve, and to give of yourself for others. You have the example of your parents to model this for your too.
  • You are saved from, “Pastor worship” by seeing first-hand that preachers are mere men and not supersaints. You view other preachers as worthy of honor, yes, but as fellow Christians on the road of sanctification, and this removes fear.
  • As a PK, you are exposed to many other churches — your dad is asked to preach at neighbouring churches and you get to make new friends and see what the state of the Church is in your country. It saves you from thinking that your church is the only one that has ‘got it right.’
  • You get to meet many interesting people and hear amazing stories of how God is real and active now, just as he has been in history.
  • You get the chance to start again — moving to another church is a big upheaval in your life, but I enjoyed the chance to recommit myself to being different for the sake of Christ, and establishing a reputation as one of his disciples.

I have lived in a pastor’s home now for 19 years (not counting my dad’s 4 years in seminary) and as I look forward to being married at the end of this year, leaving this pastor’s home, and starting one of my own I have come to appreciate the years I spent being a PK.

There are unique sacrifices that a PK has to make but there are also so many blessings.

I am moving into a chapter of my life where people will not know me as a PK, I’ll just be Anton, but I will always treasure my childhood spent in a pastor’s home and the lessons I learned there.

Question: Have you grown up as a Pastor’s Kid? How does your story compare to Anton’s? There are currently __ Comments.

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

About the author

Anton Beetge

is the son of Pastor Christo Beetge from Brackenhurst Baptist Church, Gauteng, South Africa. He is 23 years old and is currently engaged to fiance Kerry Swanepoel. He is in his final year of dentistry at Wits University. He also enjoys reading, writing, music, tinkering, and the outdoors when he gets time for them.


This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

  • I can so relate to everything. I have been a PK since the day I was born. And when I was 10 we had to go to a different church. The second day we were in our new house, there was somebody from our new church there to help unpack. My church is extremely old (both structure and most people) so they think anything my siblings and I do is amazing. But it is so true when Anton mentions that you get an early start in ministry. I’ve gotten so many chances to lead. It is really incredible.

    Thank Anton for that. It’s great to know that others suffer as I do. Ha ha! Not really suffering. More like sacrificing and rejoicing, eh?

  • I can relate to a lot of the ups and downs of a PK. But my dad is a missionary. And he leaves often. This is really encouraging to me, because none of my friends really understand what sacrifices I go through. Thank you for letting me know I am not alone. And like Hana said, I have so many chances to lead and share my testimony! In fact God has really laid it on my heart to be a missionary too. I plan to go to Uganda in the fall. My God is an awesome God!

    • I have a question for you. How do you about the technicalities of funding, organizing and going on mission trips? My parents are christian people, but we aren’t involved in that type of missions. However, I strongly feel called to mission work as a career, but I’m clueless as to how, any light you wish to share?

      • We really trust God. He provides all our needs!

        To help you understand where I’m coming from let me tell you some of our story.

        Actually my dad didn’t have the faintest idea that he would become a missionary a year ago. God had been preparing him for a couple years before that. He lost his job and money became very tight. He didn’t have a steady job for two years. But God was using those times to build trust and to humble my dad. He got a job and he had learned that the Lord provides whenever and however is best for us.

        On the first trip to Uganda that my dad took, he didn’t get any of the money he needed until the last day he could buy the plane ticket.

        He has taken two trips since then and is planning many more.

        He works/teaches all over Uganda but he is very, very good friends with a pastor who lives in Uganda and runs an orphanage with over 350 kids.

        My point: God gives us money and provisions in the exact moment we need them, He doesn’t let us go without or give us too much. I have not been on a trip yet so I don’t know a lot about traveling and things like that, but God has shown me the way. I am an artist and I raised almost enough for a ticket, I’ll be going in the fall and I’m only 13, so that’s definitely God!

        So to sum up, we trust God for every little detail, we pray and wait, he answers us. I can’t give you a straight answer because every trip is different, and we never have a plan for the future or money to begin with, yet God always provides.

        P.S. Go to YouTube and search “Blessed Home Champion’s Academy” to see a video my dad filmed about the orphanage.

        Hope that helped! I’ll pray for you!

  • Brett, Alex, thanks so much for posting these stories by PKs. I have never realized how many PKs are out there and that their lives are so similar to mine! It is kind of like meeting long lost relatives for the first time! Thanks so much!

  • I really have enjoyed reading these thoughts from other PKs! It’s truly amazing how much we can all relate even when we don’t even know each other. And I definitely agree that the negatives of a PK’s life often times end up being positives. I am so blessed to be growing up as a PK…I wouldn’t trade it for the world :). So many opportunities to serve, meet people, and simply be surrounded by Biblical teaching!
    Thanks for sharing – all of my siblings and I loved it!

  • I’m an MK (missionary kid), not a PK, but I can really relate to a lot of this, especially struggling with not having an epic salvation story (although the more I get to know God, the more I realise how truly epic the idea of God saving anybody is), and feeling guilty for not wanting to be a missionary like my parents. And yet, I am glad I am an MK.
    Thanks for sharing, Anton!

  • Enjoyed the Read Anton! Love transparency…it’s a coming alongside those running the race you are! 🙂

  • I’m a pastor’s daughter, and I love it. Like everyone has said, there are ups and downs, but there’s nothing better than being able to be up at our church, doing any random jobs, playing piano/keyboard for our worship team and giving people hugs who need it. There was one lady I know who used to email someone every time either I or my sister gave her a hug! Which, by the way, was every week. 🙂 It’s truly a blessing to see God’s work up close!

  • Basically everything you just said is my life. The interesting thing is that almost all those negatives become positives when you look at them the right way. Pastor kids are really blessed, and we should be thankful!

  • wow. im a PK and I never really realized that there are so many other PKs out there that feel the same way I do. I mean ive felt like I always have to be perfect because so many people are watching me all the time. and its also really hard to share my dad all the time with people I don’t even know. but even though its hard it is worth it because I know I would not be where I am now if I was not in my family:)

  • I am so thankful for being a PK because I have learned so much about ministry and that ministry is tough its a hard place to be! but God has been so faithful and steel is! I am stoked to see what God does in the hard times!:) I know what you feel Anton and your right all the negatives get outweighed by all the positives! God is good!;)

  • I need to print this.. haha im gonna read this all over again.. thank you so much! cause I’m a PK too. and i can relate to this..

  • Sounds like my life to a T!!
    I’m not quite a PK, I’m an EK (Elders Kid), but that article sounds exactly how I would descreibe my life!

  • A minute ago before i clicked he link linked to this blog, i grumled over my life. Knewing God has led me to read this, i thank God for the words that strengthen me. as a PK, i always been the one who is different. Parents said : can’t do this, don’t do that. While other people are enjoying their life to the fullest out there.

    After reading this, im glad that i’m born as a PK . Though it beyond what i could bear, but u have making me realize the specialities of being different as a PK . GOD BLESS

  • I am glad to have found your Dad through your eyes.

    I only know him through Horizons neighbor, SENSE Charter School and from a few other brief occasions over this past decade.

    I saw him mulching the play space last year @ Horizon Central. He and another man, wheel barrel and shovels in hand, took a LARGE truckload of mulch, up the side step (they worked hard all day-I saw them as I was a volunteer that day for the Schools end of the event) and placed it inside the play space. They must have driven that wheel barrel 150+ times up and down the board over the steps to get the mulch where it needed to be. Just the 2 of them, a pile of mulch as tall as them, and a mission to get it moved in a day.

    You are right about God providing.

    I saw him a week back during Horizons Neighborhood event. I was the recipient from a drawing for a $25.00 gas card!. I had become blessed when I needed it most. I had been involved with SENSE School all that week preparing for the Fountain Square Arts Parade and had over-run any budgets, expressly- into my allotted gas consumption for 2 weeks. I had made several trips for supplies (4-5xs to the Ace Hardware that donated most of our crafting items, like paint sticks for the posters and streamers, dowels for the banners and tall flags)-I was also the one to collect donations of $ and candy from local Merchants (19 of them).
    I had contemplated asking the “outreach” for my daughters School for a “gas card” They keep them for “emergencies-I know, they gave me one last year during the Parade” escapade”.
    I was provided for through the event and able to have gas to finish collecting donations last week without having to ask the School to dabble into the gas stash for the needy.

    God had provided for us.

    By the way-SENSE won the $250.00 “SPIRIT” award with their entry, and it will be given to the Art department after expense of printing pictures of the Parade to give to our Fountain Square Sponsors!

  • great blog! as a PK i identify fully and am so glad to see that there are others out there who go through the same things! thank you so much for this! God Bless 🙂

  • I have been an assistant pastors kid since before I was born and I definitely relate to a lot of you in many ways. I plan to start christian schools, orphanages, hospitals etc. in places that don’t have the Gospel.

  • These things are true 110%. The pros and cons, in other terms are “bitter and sweet”. It was painful to get through it. I had a nervous breakdown last year partially because I was a pastors daughter. Too many secrets inside, too much isolation, too much abandonment from church workers, too much being unseen and burdened, too much fear of failure and bringing shame to the family, too much extra serving and time spent cleaning when no one wanted to, too much having to put on a happy face, too much emotional fears to keep from parents, ect. Well Grace of God comes to us all. And that is how we live through life and become a real person again, when the old way of surviving and being is no longer viable. Known as the breaking down of self-defense mechanisms. If you have not worked through them, therapy is something to consider before college or in college. And find a therapist outside the ministry, that you like, that you pick, that works for you. I am PK/Artist/Writer/and Marital and Family Therapy intern. Love you guys. It does get better.

  • […] The purpose of this blog is to tell both sides of the story. While there are many negative elements (as we’ve seen), I wanted to also give a shout out to one PK who wrote down a great list of the great opportunites that come with being in a clergy family. While they are from a PK’s perspective, from what I’ve read, they also apply to the Pastor’s spouse. If you’d like to see the full article, have a peek here. […]

  • Wow, by this I just about qualify as a PK! I kept reading this and thinking, “that’s my dad!”

  • I’m not a PK, but I am very familiar with a lot of these things. We’ve been some of the last people to leave church waaaaaaaay too many times….and while my family has never gone through a drastic move, my preacher and his kids (who were my friends and lived so close I could walk to their house in thirty seconds) had to move to a different church. I’ll be praying for patience for all the PKs out there!

  • Thank you somuch for writting this, especially the part where those neggaives are chnged to possitives. As pastors kids, we definantly grew up differently, but the way that I grew up has blessed me a lot more than I has hurt me. I want to go into ministry and I have a behind-the-scenes look at what that means. I learned that ministry isn’t just a job , but a life style. Pastors don’t just preach on Sundays and then stop working. Their whole lives they are working for the Lord by mentoring people, serving others, and building loving and Christ-centered reltionships with people inside and outside of the church. I have had the opprotunity to see the difficulties of this way of lifeand the blessings that it brings as well. I know that God knew that my siblings and I need to experience what serving God really means and how to live this way every day even though we fail sometimes and have to make sacrifices. My siblings and I are blessed to be pastors kids.

  • Wow! I stumbled upon this older article when I wondered if The Reb had published any that speaks of almost directly to PKs. I am one myself, and I love this article! The last negative you gave, Anton, is really relatable in my life when my dad decided to respond to the call of pastoring. I really appreciate the honest take to this, and that you wrote not to complain but to give a glimpse of your experience to your readers. Excellently done!

rebelling against low expectations

The Rebelution is a teenage rebellion against low expectations—a worldwide campaign to reject apathy, embrace responsibility, and do hard things. Learn More →