We have all been there. You are with your family in the car, or sitting at home hanging out just after dinner and the phone rings. It is a disturbing call. It either brings troubling news, or an upset, angry church member seeking your immediate attention. You are not sure what to say or how to respond as your wife and children attentively look on. You get up to leave the room as you do not want your kids to hear you and realize something is really wrong on the other end of that phone.
Upon your return, you sheepishly inform them you will need to leave to go and meet with someone for a few minutes. This inevitably leads them to ask, “Who was that Daddy? Why were they calling? What is going on?” There is a phrase I often use in response that tells the truth, gives them a specific answer, but does not tell them more than they need to know. Here is the phrase:
“Daddy needs to have a talk with someone.”
This has been the common phrase my wife and I have used with our children whether I am meeting someone for discipleship, returning the phone call of an upset church member, addressing a disastrous consequence from someone’s sin, or dissuading an angry wife from walking out on her husband. The details of these individual situations are unnecessary to share and, I would argue, even harmful for the pastor’s children to know, regardless of their ages. Simply help the children realize that God has gifted “daddy” very uniquely with the ability to talk with people about their problems, share God’s word with them, and encourage them to follow Jesus more faithfully.
It is good for the pastor’s children to be reminded of the important work their Dad does. It is not good for the pastor’s children to assume the burdens of that work, which unknowingly happens more than we might realize. Every pastor has faced these moments. They will come. However, a good way to lessen the occurence of them is to make sure you do not answer the phone during dinner or while in the middle of a heated game of UNO with your kids.