One day last week, my oldest daughter had a question for me. "Mommy, how come sometimes you and Daddy put your heads close together and talk really seriously about things?" She was referring to a number of times we had done just that in the preceding days. Many difficult situations had bombarded our church family all at once, leading to numerous deep discussions as well as occasions when Pedro and I just sat across from one another wide-eyed and wondering what in the world God wanted us to do with all of this.
However, I couldn't and shouldn't explain all that to an impressionable twelve-year old whose instincts are finely attuned to any sense of upheaval and unrest in her young world. So instead I inquired, "Do you know what the definition is of a shepherd?"
She nodded and answered logically, that a shepherd takes care of sheep. "And what happens when a sheep is injured or sick?" I prodded. She agreed that a shepherd would need to focus his attention on helping that animal to become well. I pointed out to her that in Spanish, the word for shepherd and the word for pastor are the same - and that is exactly what the Bible teaches, that the pastor of a church is to care for the people just as a shepherd of sheep takes care of his animals.
"The thing is, right now we have a lot of people in church who are hurting," I explained carefully. "And it's our job with God's help to do everything we can to help them."
It was a teachable moment, and a conversation I am glad we had. Not only to help her understand the importance of empathy and compassion, but also to alert us to be sensitive to how our children may be interpreting our body language and emotions. They may read them as problems between Mom and Dad when really we are reacting to the problems of others. And certainly, right now these burdens are not theirs to bear.
The delicate balance of being a pastor's family is that these burdens our children can't bear, are also burdens we can't bare. Blog posts and prayer letters may be outlets for stories and prayer needs, but what happens when so many situations pile up that are far too sensitive for public sharing? That is where we have found ourselves in recent weeks.
And perhaps that is exactly where we need to be ... in the place were there is only one Person to whom we can bare the burdens of ministry. For He says, "Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest." (Matthew 11:28)
So thankful to know the "Pastor de pastores" ... the Shepherd of "shepherds!"