(photo by my lovely friend Jess, check her amazing photography skills)
“Oh your dad is John Brown! Isn’t he like famous?” ( Hahaha ,uh no he is not famous.)
“Oh your dad is John Brown! I love your dad! I really do love John, he is like so cool. I wish he was my dad.” (Oh um that’s cool?)
“Oh are you Savannah? aw John said the sweetest thing about you today in his sermon and then he started to cry which made me cry and aw it was just so precious!” (What? Who are you? How do you even know my name- oh no! oh no! What did he say? Please let the ground swallow me up right now.)
These are some of the most memorable comments (including my internal reactions) that I have gotten over the years when people realize that I am the pastor’s daughter.
Recently I read a book titled The Pastor’s Kid by Barnabas Piper. The book was good, honest, blunt, funny and at times I had to stop reading in order to catch my breath. My brain started turning as I thought about it more and more. In church, I have always had something of that title of being a pastor’s kid. Reading the book made me think of my experience as being the pastor’s kid.
Everyone had an idea of who I was. The hard part was people taking the time to get to know me instead of assuming that they knew me. People expected me to know everything that was going on in the church. At times, people expected me to be a therapist. I knew that everyone in church, to a certain extent, was watching me and I knew when I was doing a good job and when I wasn’t. Even the positive experiences in the church have lead to me being full of pride and false humility. I learned how to blend in and escape the unwanted attention. I did enough so I could feel like no one can judge me but then it was all action and no heart. I learned how to play church like a pro.
Being the Pastor’s kid I was aware of two things, the assumption was that either I was practically perfect or I was going off to the deep end. Going off to the deep end could mean anything from not following Jesus to deviating from church traditions. Practically perfect meant that I wasn’t a person but an ideal. You can’t be friends with an ideal. These assumptions often felt like that they happened all at once, like a paradox. The image of me is warped into unconscious expectations. Expectations that only I feel and yet others impose on me.
However I’m happy to tell you that my experience has been mostly positive. I felt the freedom and space to grow and go on my journey. People have been interested in getting to know me as a person and not as the pastor’s daughter. John Brown is not my pastor, he is just my dad who is loud, funny, and who always comes back to say sorry when he has done something wrong. I have been encouraged to not blend in (which is a habit that is hard to get rid of) but to speak up when I need to. People have consistently pointed to Jesus and to His grace, instead of a list of rules I needed to keep because I supposedly needed to set a good example. I have been encouraged by not just my parents but my church. For the most part, being a pastor kid hasn’t been a curse and the wealth of Bible information and lessons that I have learned by simply participating in church life has been a blessing.
Please- just don’t bring it up if my dad uses me as an example in his sermon. Thankfully, Dad has also read the book and promises to avoid using his children as sermon illustrations…we’ll see.