As a former pastor’s kid (and assistant pastor’s kid, and later a missionary’s kid), this book intrigued me. As a former member of John Piper’s church, this book had special relevance for me. The author is Barnabus Piper, one of Pastor John’s sons. As a Christian who is recovering from legalism, this book was especially helpful for me.
In The Pastor’s Kid: Finding Your Own Faith and Identity (David C. Cook, 2014), Barnabus opens up about the struggles of growing up in a fish bowl. The author doesn’t claim to be a guru, but he is a pastor’s kid who struggled and erred, but also grew and matured and looks back on his time as a pastor’s kid and feels the need to share his experience both for the benefit of pastors but especially for the help of fellow pastor’s kids who may not have turned out as well as he. There are a lot of pastor’s kids, and some of them have jettisoned their parents’ faith and are jarred by the experience. Other’s may not yet have come to grips with why they struggle so much in particular ways.
This book explores the unique challenges of pastor’s kids and yet doesn’t burn the parents and blame them for all the problems. Pastor John actually writes the foreword and while Barnabus spares no punches, one gets the sense that their relationship is in-tact and both respect the other.
This is part memoir, and part self-help. And it isn’t all Piper’s memoir, as he shares stories from countless pastor’s kids he interviewed in preparation for the book. Some of them are not in the faith anymore, and it does us good to wonder why. Barnabus’ prescription calls for grace and care for children, and a proper set of expectations. He also gives hope to those who have been burned, or are wondering what they can possibly due at this stage in the game.
I particularly appreciated his emphasis on legalism. This excerpt resonates well with me:
Not everything is right or wrong, true or false, yes or no. The PK needs some maybes and sort ofs. If every question is answered in black and white and every decision judged as right or wrong, the PK never learns to make value decisions. In fact, he never learns values at all. He just learns to dance the morality two-step and avoid getting out of step with what’s ‘good’ or ‘true.’ If every question is given a concrete answer and no room is left for exploration or doubt, the PK is forced to either acquiesce or bury his doubts where they can fester and rot his faith. (p. 83)
I listened to the Christianaudio.com version of the book. This was extra special in that Barnabus Piper himself was the one reading his book. This made listening to the book more poignant as his passion for his book’s message was evident.
This book is well-written and preaches an important message. I don’t know of any other similar book that is designed to both help those who have been hurt, and equip those in the ministry now who are raising another generation of children. Cautions are raised and challenges issued, but grace and hope pervade the book. This is must reading for churches, pastors and of course, pastor’s kids.
For more on the book, watch this video clip from the author:
Disclaimer: This book was provided by Christianaudio.com. The reviewer was under no obligation to offer a positive review.
About Book Briefs: Book Briefs are book notes, or short-form book reviews. They are my informed evaluation of a book, but stop short of being a full-length book review.