The Ten Commandments for Preachers' Kids

Monday, March 21, 2011

I recently had to give a humorous speech, so I decided to talk about The Ten Commandments for Preachers' Kids. I am sharing that speech with you, modified to work as a blog post. (The picture was taken while I was in college, so the worst was behind me by then.)

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Do you know what a PK is? It stands for "preacher's kid." I didn't know that until my first summer at church camp. My name was Kathryn Page, so when a counselor said, "I see you're a PK," I replied, "No, I'm a KP."

I wanted to be anything except a preacher's kid. It's hard enough trying to keep the ten commandments that God gave Moses. But the ten commandments for preachers' kids are even worse.

First Commandment. Thou shalt not be first in line at church dinners. In fact, my father interpreted it to mean that we had to be dead last (and I was dead of hunger by then).

When my son-in-law was ordained last summer, they actually asked Pete and his guests to go first at the meal after the service. When my husband mentioned that I always went last while growing up, the senior pastor's wife said, "She must have been a preacher's kid."

Second Commandment. Thou shalt not act up in school. The principal is a member of your church and will tell your parents.

Third Commandment. Thou shalt not receive Sunday School or Vacation Bible School awards for memorizing the most verses. Even though you earned it, it might look like favoritism.

Actually, it is a good idea to avoid the appearance of favoritism. PK Mary Todd remembers returning to a former church as an adult and speaking with a woman who used to be in Sunday School with her when they were children. And what did the woman remember? "You always got to be the Virgin Mary in the Christmas pageants."

So maybe this one isn't such a bad rule, after all.

Fourth Commandment. Thou shalt not solicit church members for fundraising activities. They may feel obligated to buy something because you are their minister's child.

My high school sold magazine subscriptions every year, and the students who sold the most got nice prizes, like new TVs. I got a pencil.

Fifth Commandment. Thou shalt not accept a pin for perfect Sunday School attendance. The church can find a better use for the nickle it would spend on the pin.

Sixth Commandment. Thou shalt not sin in public.

Tina Watkins remembers the time she was acting up in church and her mother had to take her out and spank her. On the way down the aisle, Tina grabbed a pew and yelled, "Help." Forty years later, she still hadn't lived it down.

So if you are a PK, you had better be sure to act like an angel in public. It reflects badly on your father if you show people you are normal.

Seventh Commandment. Thou shalt not say "no" when asked to do something for the church.

I had just been confirmed and was attending the first congregational meeting where I could vote. I was feeling grown-up and important until my father asked me to take the younger kids out and entertain them.

So much for the PK's right to vote.

Eighth Commandment. Thou shalt not go on youth outings if there isn't room for everyone.

I guess that's why I read better than I bowl.

Ninth Commandment. Thou shalt not act bored in church even if you are hearing the sermon for the second time that day.

Tenth Commandment. Thou shalt not complain about the parsonage. The church members might think you are ungrateful for the free house they provided as part of your father's salary.

This commandment comes with a number of related truths.

  1. Given the choice between buying new banners for the sanctuary or replacing the leaky roof on the parsonage, the congregation will chose the banners every time;
  2. If the parsonage is too small, it's always the minister's fault, because he's the one who had too many children; and
  3. Cold rooms and broken kitchen appliances are God's way of testing you, so learn to live with them.
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Of course, it isn't all "thou shalt nots." There are also a few "thou shalts." The one I hated the most? Thou shalt move seven times while growing up.

So here's my advice to PKs. Since you can't change your lot, remember those stories and become a comic.


Loree Huebner said...

Kathryn, Fun post! I really enjoyed reading this one.

You might see me this Saturday. I'm going to try and work it in.

Anonymous said...

I absolutly agree with these completely and could add my own stories. Thanks for posting and lettine me stumble upon it!

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