Look! Your disciples are doing what is unlawful on the Sabbath. ~ Matthew 12:2
READING: Matthew 12:1-8
One day in our first church, we gathered at a home to baptize several new converts in a backyard pool. Fifty or sixty people informally surrounded the pool to watch, singing an enthusiastic spontaneous rendition of “I have decided” before we meandered indoors for a potluck luncheon. Afterwards, one irritated couple button-holed Jim and criticized our son, maybe five years old at the time, for playing quietly with his playmate in the nearby wading pool during the solemn occasion.
One of the hazards of being a pastor’s kid is that, more so than regular children at church, many adults take liberties to criticize or opine on their behavior – notice, they didn’t confront Aaron’s folks. Jim calmly but firmly defended our son. Surely when John the Baptist baptized people little boys played in the shallows. Zach was being a normal child and Jim defended him from attack.
Of course Zach didn’t always get a pass. Sometimes we thanked our “reporters” for spotting something we missed. We insisted that our boys apologize and make amends when they did wrong. Children need appropriate discipline, and we were grateful for well-intentioned help.
It’s a double-edged sword, this notion among the adults that pastor’s kids are somehow communal property. Done well, our children benefit from kindly communal wisdom and attention. Done poorly, that ever-present threat of criticism and disapproval may discourage a child, sometimes irrevocably.
As parents we must discern when to defend our vulnerable pastor’s kids from unreasonable attack, and when to agree with their critics, endorsing due discipline. We must make it clear to the church that we will protect our children appropriately; that they are not fair game for mean-spirited cranks.
Dear Father, When they need us most, may our children know they can count on us.Amen.
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