One of the sons of my former pastor wrote a book about what it’s like to be a pastor’s kid. It’s a good book. Here’s my review.

Let’s first get the negatives out of the way –

1. It’s a bit repetitive. I would have liked to have had a chance to edit this book.

2. It’s not clear how representative this book is. Barnabas says right up front that research and statistics is not his forte and that he wouldn’t be providing numerical data. This is too bad, because I’d really be interested to know how universal these issues are with PKs.

Not too harsh, I trust?

Here are some positives:

1. It’s illustrative.

If you’ve ever wanted a good description, filled with anecdotes, of what it’s like to be a Pastor’s kid, here you have it. This is a book who’s existence makes the world better, for that reason alone.

2. It’s not all negative.

A major aspect of this book is “These are the hard things that PKs have to deal with”.  And they are hard. But I was grateful for the last chapter, in which Barnabas lists for us some of the upsides of being a PK. It was refreshing.

And being a Bethlehem Baptist Church member, I was happy to see the word “Forward by John Piper” on the cover. Because I assumed (correctly) that this meant that this wasn’t going to be an angry book of harsh stories. About the worst thing he has to say about Pastor John is that he always drives the speed limit.

3. It’s a book I would recommend to many people for different reasons.

For all people in churches who are going to be ministering to (or otherwise dealing with) pastor’s kids (for example, Sunday school teachers and youth leaders and other kid’s parents) – I encourage them to get this book for chapters two and three which lists out the unrealistic expectations that many have for pastor’s kids.

For all pastor’s kids, I would recommend that they read … well all of it – but chapter four “Identity Crisis” is especially helpful, challenging and perhaps hard to read, but is ultimately uplifting.

For all pastors, I would recommend they read chapters six and seven which explains how their kids need them – with ideas like “Laugh, play, be affectionate”, and “have hobbies”.

For all dads who are trying to parent in a strong Christian environment, I recommend chapter five and six. Many of the ideas apply to all dads (and all parents). One of the ideas I found most intriguing is that we should apologize to our children with specific sins (i.e. don’t just admit, “I’m a sinful dad”). It’s good stuff.

For all church going people, the book provides many thoughts on what we should and should not expect of pastors and (directly and indirectly) their kids.

4. It delves into the Gospel.

Barnabas asks the question – what does a PK need? His answer is Grace.

“It is the grace of God that allows anyone to make headway in the struggles to overcome sin. It is the gift of the Holy Spirit that enables followers of Jesus to make good decisions in the face of temptations, and the spirit lives in anyone who acknowledge Jesus as their Savior, as the one and only means to get right with God. The ultimate grace was the sacrifice of the perfect, sinless Jesus for the sake of all humanity to give up His heavenly glory, live a human life and agonizingly die on the grotesque cross so that we would not have to face eternal punishment of dishonoring the perfect God.”

Barnabas Piper says that a PK needs grace from his parents, his need grace from the church, he needs to show grace towards his family and his church and he ultimately and most importantly needs the eternal grace that only God can give him.

This rings true. For each PK and for all of us.

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