PKs: How to Help Them Survive You and Your Ministry?


We all wonder how we can help our PKs (Pastor Kids) survive growing up in the parsonage. 

In our ministry, we had one very special D.S. that had a heart for  PKs and did so many things to help them survive their parents’ ministry. I asked him to give us a few pointers today.

How Can You Survive Having A(Those) PK(s) Living In Your Home?

What Can You Do to Help Them Survive You and Your Ministry?

Laurel and Sharon Matson

Guest Post: Laurel L. Matson is living in retirement after serving in ministry with the Church of the Nazarene for 49 years. During that time he was a staff associate for 3.5 years, lead or senior pastor for 18 years, district superintendent for 15 years, and college administrator at Nazarene Bible College for 14 years. He and his wife, Sharon, have two sons and two daughters, and four granddaughters. Throughout his years as a superintendent and college administrator, he displayed a strong concern for children growing up in the spotlight glare of being a PK.

curleque by Coffee at pixabay

It is thrilling to be able to share some thoughts on life in the parsonage, especially in reference to PKs. I am pleased that I was not asked to address PKs, but to address parents who live in the parsonages with the too often forgotten, long-suffering PKs.

What can a pastor-parent and her/his spouse do to help their children survive the rigors of ministry?

Too often well-meaning pastors and spouses give more attention to how their ministry can survive the whims, quirks, and impulses of their children than how their children can survive the fancies, notions, moods, and caprices of the congregation to which God has called them.

My wife of 51 years and I have lived in seven church-owned parsonages and one district parsonage.

We were privileged to have raised four children and all are presently serving the Lord. We thank God frequently that he brought us and them through. However, I do not want to leave the impression that I believe we did it all right and have all the answers to the questions implied by the title of this blog.

We still pray daily for those children who are between the ages of 50 and 33.

We pray daily for our two in-laws-kids, and for our four granddaughters who are from three years old to an 18-year-old college freshman. I can’t imagine how difficult it would be to raise those great girls in today’s society. I can’t conceive how hard it must be to keep a marriage together with all of the competing philosophies of our era. So, my suggestions do not imply that “if you just do these five things, everything will be fine.” I know better. In spite of all we do, our children are free moral agents and still have choices that are their responsibility.

Parsonage Survival  #PKs #parsonage
Image by rivaldo13 from Pixabay


1. Allow your child to be a child.

I once interviewed a prospective pastor who, when asked about his children, responded, “Well, to be honest, I am a little disappointed. I’m not yet getting the ministry from them that I expected by this point in their lives.” I quickly looked again at the information sheet in front of me and said, “but this says your kids are between six and 13!” He responded, “Yeah, I’m really going to have to work on that, aren’t I?” I still wonder if he ever became a pastor and what happened to his precious kids.

2. Don’t let the work of your ministry drain you to the point that you have no time to be a parent.

Take time with your children. Talk with them, not just to them. There may be times when your ministry schedule is so packed that you end up spending less time with children than you would like. If that happens, show your kids that you will make time specifically for them and your spouse that is more than 15 minutes here or there.

3. Participate with your spouse in your children’s school functions.

Go to teacher/parent conferences. Attend sports events, show up at their band and choir concerts. Have regular daddy/daughter or father/son nights and outings. And be sure to make and keep regular “date nights” with your spouse and “family nights” with the entire family. Let them see you and your spouse share affection – not inappropriately, but let them know that you LOVE their Mom/Dad.

4. Never talk about church issues and problems with your children, or even within hearing of your children.

If your children ever see congregational discord be sure you talk to them about that and apologize to them for the fact that they witnessed such inappropriate behavior. Yes, you apologize even if you had nothing to do with the discord.

5. Never talk about them from the pulpit in your sermons.

If you intend to use them in a sermon illustration ask permission and be sure they have the right to say “NO” to grant that permission. I have even heard of some PKs that got “paid” (actual money) if their parent ever used them in an illustration. Spouses should get the same “benefit.”

Important Books for my ministry other than the Bible: {affiliate links}

Devotional: The Inner Voice of Love by Henri J. M. Nouwen,

Practical Help: Survival Tactics in the Parish by Lyle Schaller (Old but good!)

Ministry Today: Missional Church edited by Darrell L. Guder

and Introducing the Missional Church: What It Is, Why It Matters, How to Become One by Alan J Roxburgh and M. Scott Boren

About Mandy Farmer

Pastor's Wife (retired) &  Chronic Pain Warrior blogs about how to make it through anything by relating her own life experiences to her writing. She is passionate about her love for the Lord and desires to spread that passion to others. She has a great desire to encourage women who are following behind her.

View all posts by Mandy Farmer

5 Comments on “PKs: How to Help Them Survive You and Your Ministry?”

  1. I disagree about not letting the kids in on church problems (although it may depend on the kids). We were always honest and up front with our kids and it helped them to be prepared when they were personally attacked by the children of people disagreeing with my husband.
    A couple other random remarks: 1) In ministry, we must be careful not to expect our kids to be better than other kids. When ours were little, I did a lot of shaking my head and smiling ruefully when one or the other of our children said or did something that kids do. If they needed correcting, we did it at home. Otherwise, we considered our children the same as any other Christian couple in church would. Our goal was that long-term they would love the Lord and follow Him, not that short-term they would make us look good. 2) All sermon illustrations using the kids were cleared through them and the person spoken of received $2 each time. Worked very well!

  2. Linda,
    I would agree that children need to be “brought into the loop” if/when they become the recipient of attacks from individuals in the church or the children of those critical individuals. At the same time I’m not sure that I would encourage pastoral couples to inform their kids about any problems their Dad or Mom were facing. If that has worked well for you, then I would encourage you to keep on with that approach and would tell other parsonage parents to give that approach consideration.
    My concern would be that a sensitive children might become distrustful and even a bit paranoid about everyone and wonder when they were going to be accosted by these individuals who didn’t “like Daddy or Mommy.” I can even envision the problem that might arise if one of those persons, or their offspring, did confront them. The child might respond with something like, “Dad warned me that you didn’t like him and that you might jump on me sometime.” (Of course, that would be accompanied by tears from your child!)
    I’m sure that I may be overstating, but I am not sure what a sensitive kid might do in a situation of criticism from an adult.
    Thanks for your thoughts.


  3. Being a PK myself, I would say that in the older ages….when I was younger…a lot more was expected out of me than my church friends. My parents expected a lot and there was no room for flaws. However, I decided I did not expect my only son to be perfect as there is no such human. We are striving with diligence, yet we are humans who think, say and do things that are quite contrary to the Word of God.

    Generations have changed, dividing the entire Bible to live by is essential, and as my daily scripture this morning: “Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, and have not charity, I am become as sounding brass, or a tinkling cymbal.” 1 Cor. 13:1

  4. Good comment, Linda. I, for one, do not want to be a a tinkling or even a crashing cymbal. I want my life to be marked by love.


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