I've always hated the term "PK." All my life, people have felt total license to use it with my siblings and me—a knowing glance, a faked camaraderie. "You're a PK, too? Isn't it the worst/best?"

Well, yes. And no. And why are we having this conversation in the first place? We never, after all, refer to a dentist's child as a DK or the child of a homemaker as an HK. Why do the children of clergy get such special designations—and such a specific template into which they must fit?

We PKs have two choices, according to television and popular belief. Either we grow up sanctimonious, carrying the mantle of our fathers—in the mold of Martin Luther King Jr., Reinhold and H. Richard Niebuhr, and Franklin Graham—or, we are Katy Perry or pre-conversion Jay Bakker, tattooed and seductive and rebellious and raising hell in ways specifically contrived to reject our parents' beliefs (call it the Pastor's Kids Gone Wild trend, as Jon Acuff recently did).

We have on our hands a Christian celebrity culture that runs counter to the gospel: that elevates the gifted communicators, teachers, and leaders and devalues the gifts of the volunteers: those who welcome people into their homes, the administrative assistants, and the janitors. A 2004 Biola Magazine cover story on pastor's kids noted, "When your dad is a famous Christian, there's a sense that people aren't putting him or you on the same level as themselves. It's this weird, super-Christian mentality," said one of the interviewees. And this sentiment is true, and it is sad, and it is wrong, and it is against everything that Jesus tells us and lived out about the crux of his gospel being located in service.

What is most important for me to say in this whole conversation, though, is not necessarily to indict certain people or phenomena, but to thank my parents.

We three children easily could have grown up with "pastor's kids" as our primary identifier. For the better part of our growing-up years, my mom and dad worked in one of the biggest churches in the country, a church prone to certain kinds of Christian celebrity worship. To be clear, that is part of its junk, and every church has junk, and the congregation is also an incredible place of service and community. People talked to us frequently about how our parents' gifts impacted their lives. And we all, I think, loved to hear that.

But had we not gotten freedom from our parents to be the people we were—to grow and learn for ourselves and even occasionally embarrass our parents, as good children do (a famed family incident at a church in Southern California that involves my then-5-year-old brother lying on his back, thrusting his pelvis to a children's worship song called "Jumping Bean," comes to mind)—we would likely have ended up feeling like our only two possibilities in life were becoming the mantle-bearer or the rebel.

There is a scene at the very end of Braveheart that always gets me. Your thoughts on Mel Gibson aside, it's one of the most famous scenes in recent film history, and also one of the most powerful. At the moment of his public death, William Wallace looks several times into the eyes of a child in the mob and, moments later, as he is about to die amid cries of "Mercy!" from the crowd, Wallace issues a guttural yell for freedom. A yell that becomes both the rallying cry for the Scots and a blessing pronounced on the boy who caught Wallace's eye.

Clearly, we seek a freedom different from the kind Wallace fought for. But it is similar insofar as true freedom is the same at its core across time and context. Something deep inside of each of us longs for freedom, hopes for freedom, was created to live in freedom. A freedom that claims us in Christ regardless of what our parents do for a living, that releases us from the need to be perfect, to maintain a certain image, to become the person that God has made us to be.

Throughout our growing-up years, and now, well into our adult ones, one of the greatest gifts my parents have given to us is that freedom. That absence of pressure to be a certain kind of kid, to behave in a certain way, to meet the standards and expectations of people whom we didn't know and who had nothing to do with our family. That has been one of the most shaping forces in my life. In any church, regardless of size, it's not uncommon for people to have certain expectations of the pastor's children. Our parents protected us from that, through their commitment to let us grow into the people we were, pelvic thrusts and all.

Where there is true freedom, there is God. Freedom here does not mean an absence of rules or boundaries, because of course only through obeying God do we experience true freedom. I am not a parent, and though I hope to be one, I still don't imagine this is an easy gift to bestow upon your children. But as the product of parents who worked hard to give it to me, I can tell you that it is a gift worth giving; a heart-altering gift that mirrors the gift of God to all of us.

Laura Ortberg Turner, a Westmont College graduate, is an admissions counselor at Fuller Theological Seminary. She blogs at An Ordinary Player in the Key of C.