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9 reasons preacher's kids stray

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Chuck Lawless Chuck Lawless

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.


Chuck Lawless is Dean and Vice-President of Graduate Studies and Ministry Centers at Southeastern Seminary in Wake Forest, NC, where he also serves as Professor of Evangelism and Missions. In addition, he is Global Theological Education Consultant for the International Mission Board of the Southern Baptist Convention. This post originally appeared at his blog. 

church life, family, fatherhood, preacher's kids, stress

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