9 Reasons Preacher’s Kids Stray

Over my 20 years of teaching, I’ve talked with a lot of “PK’s” who struggled at some point in their Christian walk. When I’ve asked them why they think they struggled, here’s are some of the reasons they’ve told me:

  1. They’re weren’t (and aren’t) perfect. Everybody knows that truth, but some church folks expect PK’s to live differently. All of us struggle because we’re still in the process of growing. We’re all fallen.
  2. Their church told them the way they should live, but nobody personally helped them do so. The PK’s knew what others expected of them, but nobody – including their parents, too often – actually invested in them as mentors.
  3. They weren’t sure how to handle their feelings when their pastor/parent seemed too busy for them. To not speak up left them lonely, but to speak up made them feel selfish. After all, pastors do stuff for others that really matters.
  4. They didn’t tell anybody when their struggles started. They sometimes felt like they had no one to tell. In other cases, they were too embarrassed to tell – or they thought they’d embarrass their family by their honesty.
  5. They weren’t sure how to handle temptation when it overwhelmed them. For many of these PK’s, those temptations became most powerful during their teenage or college years. The teachings of their childhood had not adequately prepared them to deal with the onslaught of sinful opportunities that the world offers.
  6. They weren’t saved yet. They may have thought they were, but some didn’t learn until years later what salvation really means. 
  7. They just wanted to experiment. Sin’s like that sometimes. It’s alluring. It pulls at the heart, even for people raised in a Christian home. Experimentation, though, can lead to trouble – as some of these PK’s learned. 
  8. They were rebelling against the church. It’s easy to do that, especially if the church “family” creates anguish for your family. Anger and defensiveness can lead to rebellion and sin.
  9. They followed the lead of their church friends. To be frank, I’ve met few PK’s who rebelled because of the influence of their non-believing friends. Much of the time, that influence was church friends who hid their sin.

Here’s the good news. Most of the PK’s I’ve talked with came through their struggles and are now walking with God. I pray that’s the case with yours. If not, let us know how we can pray for you and your family.


  • Bill Pitcher says:

    I fear that so often a PK’s walk in life rises and falls on how much the mom and dad pay attention to them. (Which is in line of a couple things you identify.) Some dads are so busy with the day-to-day business of their ministries, they lose track of the kids and their individual needs in the process. Some kids require more investment of their dad’s time. There are also those kids who, in spite of all that the parents pour into them in time, instruction and prayer, go their own way.
    Thankfully, most of the pastors in my history have largely gotten it right, and most of the kids have come out well. Some had some pretty rough patches, though.

  • David Michael says:

    PK here. All of these are painfully true, #2 – #5 especially. I’d go so far as to say that oftentimes, PKs probably need MORE mentorship than most; no matter how hard your parents try, you inevitably wind up being an involuntary keeper of secrets way too big for a child or teenager. You bear the burden of a father who comes home emotionally exhausted and unable to engage. You learn to not ask for help lest your problems be the straw that breaks the camel’s back. A wise, loving mentor can provide a space for a PK to practice 3 and 4, and help them navigate the complexities of 1, 2, and 7.

    I’m almost 30 now, and mercifully, God is using that difficult growing-up as a means for me to minister to youth who are current PKs. The loneliness most of them express to me is crushing, but the good news is that it’s easy to address. They just need someone to listen without judgment and love without exploitation (like most people!).

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