For some pastors’ kids (PKs) Sunday morning is like walking the green mile, step by agonizing step closer to imminent doom. For others it’s mostly great with a side of frustration and annoyance. For most of my upbringing I was in the second camp and occasionally slid into the first. What follows are 11 suggestions I have for any PK that I learned, some at great expense, to help Sunday mornings be better.
Tuck your shirt in when mom tells you to. No, it doesn’t make you holier, but it does avoid a stupid fight. And you can just untuck it when you get to Sunday school any how.
If you haven’t already, take up coffee drinking. Start at home and keep it going all through church. There is no grief like the grief a PK takes for falling asleep in church.
Hit the donuts. You can’t afford to be low-carb or sugar free as a PK. Gluten free just won’t hack it. Donuts bring happiness and they keep your mouth full so you can politely decline to answer the nosey questions some church members will fire at you.
Consider carefully what shenanigans you participate in. Because you will get caught. You are public enemy number 1 in the church, so suspicion will fall on your first. And if it doesn’t someone will squeal. So make sure the payoff is worth the punishment. (Sometimes it will. Sometimes it REALLY well be.)
Hit the donuts again. Sunday dinner isn’t happening until dad gets home from church, and that might not be until sometime after sunset. You need some fortification.
Just go ahead and volunteer for that service day or church work day or nursery duty or Christmas caroling or whatever it is. Someone else will volunteer you if you don’t, so just get it over with and earn some brownie points.
Do not shoot your hand up to be the first one to answer questions in Sunday school. That makes you look like a know-it-all and a show-off. Go ahead and raise your hand to answer if nobody else has after 7-10 seconds. At that point there’s about an 88% chance you’ll get called on any way.
Have a sense of humor, like a real big one. Laughter is about the only escape mechanism sometimes. Find humor where you can. Laugh with other people. On occasion laugh at other people. Laugh the sermon (you can get away with it, unlike anyone else). Laugh at whatever. You need a lift, and laughter is your life preserver.
Don’t be a jerk. Don’t be rude. Don’t roll your eyes. Don’t pick on anyone. Don’t be a smart aleck. Taking out your frustrations, boredom, or annoyance on others will only make things worse. And by “things” I mean everystinkingthing. This doesn’t mean you need to be phony when you’re upset. It does mean that the people around deserve your respect and interest.
Remember that you are better than no one and worse than no one. You’re unique just like everyone else is. Your struggles are unique, but they don’t earn you greater pity. Care about others and their struggles and joys. Invest in them and not just in your own black hole of emotions. They need you and you need them. Start conversations. Make friends. Take an interest in visitors. They are people, like you, who want to be known.
You only need two or three friends. On those days when it seems like everyone is judging you or against you, all you need is two or three friends you can trust and who view you as you (instead of as a PK) to give you a bastion of normalcy and security.
For more on the life, times, needs, and idiosyncrasies of PKs check out my book, The Pastor’s Kid: Finding Your Own Faith and Identity. If you prefer listening to reading you can get the audiobook too.