I’m an SK . . . what’s *your* excuse?

Jason’s family has an abnormal number of “PK”s in it — “PK” meaning preacher’s kid. Grandparents and parents and and aunts and uncles and all sorts of different relations in his family have put in their time in ecclesiastical leadership. His sister found a site, PKI, and I believe she ordered this shirt.

I don’t have such a site for my situation, but even so, I think I’d need more than a shirt.

I’m an SK – a superintendent’s kid. Well, *former* SK – I’m now a APK (associate pastor – still no shirt). My dad served as the superintendent for the Northwest Yearly Meeting of Friends churches. Northwest Yearly Meeting is the regional gathering/district for evangelical Quaker churches in Oregon/Idaho/Washington. How did my pappy end up there when his college degree is in chemical engineering? It’s a long story; but needless to say, he’s put the days of managing chemical waste dump sites behind him and now navigates the waters of spiritual formation (which also has dump sites, but they tend to be of a different nature).

Tonight I’ve been wondering why people feel called to such roles such as pastor or superintendent. They generally say “God placed a call on my heart.” If that’s so, then my view of God’s a bit on the downside because a God who does that seems mean.

As an SK, I’ve had some amazing opportunities: I’ve met more people that I could imagine, I’ve heard and experienced some amazing things that I knew about because I was exposed to certain circles. But I’ve also dealt with a lot of crap. PKs have it hard: everyone in the church knows their business. For an SK, multiply that by a lot more. It’s similar to how you have an opinion about your own state governor, but not necessarily about the governor four states over from you. But you, the folks four states over, *and* everyone else in between has an opinion about the president: and most likely they’ll let you know about it.

I think tonight I’m grieving some. Both my yearly meeting and my local worship gathering are undergoing changes, and as the current superintendent said, “Change doesn’t always feel good.” For a long time, I didn’t consider one church building to be my home, but rather I considered the yearly meeting to be my worship gathering: I knew people and had friends and worshiped Christ in so many different areas. The proposed change is going to be good . . . if people will let it come about. But there will also be sadness as some things fall away, and I think my previous relationship to the YM makes me more sensitive to the overall demeanor. And there will be the desire of folks to pick at the structure and wording and teeny tiny itty bitty things that in the long run will all fall away and won’t have helped us keep our eyes on Christ one bit more because we were too focused on trying to control and manage and own. . . and that makes me sad.

And with my local worship gathering: it’s no secret that I’m a Gregg-fan. Heck, I’ve followed him to two different states! In fact, I’m thinking of making a Gregghead bumper sticker and slapping in on a VW bus . . . no, wait: that’s my *brother* who lives in Deadhead country, not me. 🙂 Quakers generally don’t vote but rather “come to consensus” . . . and yet I’d say our church votes — with our dollars. When the elders and Gregg presented the congregation with the results of this year’s budget, there was a backlash. . . and some of it got personal.

I’m sad for the grief my friend is going through: I’ve personally seen the toll it takes. I’m particularly sad for his family: it sucks to watch your Dad go through something like that, and it sucks for everyone you’re around to know. When things were bad for Dad at the engineering office, the only way I knew is that he seemed a little somber. But PKs/SKs know and live with and around the badness that their parents are dealing with.

I can’t tell you how many bitter and angry PKs I know: people who harbor great anger towards the institutional church because they’ve seen the grief, pain, and suffering Christians have inflicted on their parents. I also know many PKs who love the church despite the negative stuff, but it took a bit of healing on their part.

Why is this such a prevelant experience for PKs? Part of me wonders if its because pastors are called to/put in positions that were never meant to exist: no one was meant to serve in that sort of capacity in ministry. Gregg recognizes that he cannot serve in all the roles that are tied to the current head pastor job description. And yet when he said that to our congregation, people have said all of that is necessary to “keep in touch with ‘the people'”. He’s gonna lose touch real quick if he burns out just like hundreds other pastors, much like a part in an engine that “kinda fits, but not really.”

So, if the pastors are there because God placed a call on their heart, and the role of a pastor is defunct . . . did they miss God’s call? Does God call people to dysfunctional roles? Why would God call people with young families to a position that absorbs so much of their lives? Honest questions – not meant to accuse, demean, or criticize anyone’s experience. I’m in an open, pondering mood, needing insight from folks who’s “walked the walk.”

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