Pint-Sized Peanut Gallery
I try to remain cognizant of the role my children have as “pastor's kid”. I have heard from several friends who have blazed this trail before that there are particular joys and trials associated with that moniker. The last thing I want is for my role in leading the church to be a hinderance to my children's love for the Gospel and for the one for whom Christ died – the church.
To that end, my wife and I try not to place an undue burden on our children when it comes to their religious behavior. We only strive for their life in the body to be as much of an encouragement and example as any other follower of Christ. That alone is a great challenge and a call that doesn't need added “weight”. So, if they're visiting grandma's house or if they want to attend an event at a friend's church, I try to exercise the same tolerance towards them as I would expect an active member of my church to display. On the same note, we don't abdicate to their prepubescent will either. As a father who is a follower of Christ (pastor or not), I must teach my children that being part of a local church includes active service of that body. It is a great joy and honor that my children LOVE to be together with the people of Heritage Church. It is a truly unique place and I thank God that He has lead us to that fellowship – it is an added blessing to be able to shepherd there. As I have told our church, for my children and for their children to learn what it “looks like” to follow Christ, we must ALL dedicate ourselves to the task. I need them to take their faith seriously, as they need me to take mine.
All that being said... there are times when “preacher dad” has to remember that he can leave the preacher hat at the office. For example:
Prior to God making my daughters aware of His salvation and their need for it, we had many discussions about baptism. It was something they had seen and they knew it was important to their parents and to people at the church. That is why we wanted to be particularly mindful of what our children understood about baptism - about why we practice it and what it means. For whatever reason, those conversations typically took place at bedtime. We have a nightly practice of tucking the kids in bed and laying by them for a short time before they fall asleep. It is a great time to just snuggle up, tell stories or recount the day's events. I try to treasure those moments, knowing that the day is not far off when I will be summarily dismissed with a “g'night dad.” On more than one occasion, the subject of baptism has come up. [On a side note, if you have a “preacher dad” and want to extend bedtime, get him talking about something theological... Those guys love to talk about that stuff and it's kinda fun to see them try to make complex truths bite-sized for little minds. You can almost hear the little hamster on the wheel in his brain gasping for air!] On one particular night, one of the girls asked again about being baptized. So I began to ask her some questions hoping to discern her understanding so that I might know where she lacked. “Why do you think people are baptized?” “Why do we need to be baptized?” “Why was Jesus crucified?” “Why do we need forgiveness?” “What is sin?” Somewhere in the midst of the interrogation, we hit a snag in her understanding as God was graciously revealing what was yet missing in her comprehension of the sacrifice of Christ and what His followers place their faith IN. It was into this void, then, that I began to teach. What followed can only be described as systematic brilliance. I am pretty sure there was a reference to the formation of the canon, to Augustine and to The Imperial Diet of Worms. As I crafted my expository brilliance to the self-imagined admiration of my young listeners, one fact escaped me... I had forgotten to dismiss one of my pillow-top prodigies for children's church. As the glass began to fully form over the countenance of my two older children, their pint-sized partner sitting just out of my view flung himself down on the bed with an exclamation that brought both a smile and relief to his sisters...
“UGH! Save it for the preaching!”
And with that, I abandoned the final point on my outline and the special music...
[BTW, undaunted by their brother's exhaustion, God saved my two daughters in the summer of 2010 and I had the great privilege of baptizing both of them. They grasp the necessity of Christ's sacrifice and are endeavoring to live a life of thankful obedience. Jack is now the one asking questions... “save it for the preaching”, indeed.]