The little boy was seven years old and loved the church where his dad served as pastor. So, he was not prepared for the bully who decided to take out his frustrations with the preacher on him.
Each week during the Sunday School assembly, the director of the children’s department would ask, “Has anyone had a birthday this week?” Now, he already knew the answer since the church bulletin carried this information. But, they would identify the children with birthdays and sing to them.
This week, little David had celebrated his seventh birthday and was eagerly anticipating that tiny bit of recognition from his friends in Sunday School. This day, however, the director chose not to ask if anyone had had a birthday that week. David came home in tears.
His mother said to me, “How could I explain to my child that the director despises his father? And that he has fought us on everything over the past year. And that he took out his frustration on the minister’s child?”
She said, “These are things we should not be having to explain to a 7-year-old child.”
“It really hurts.”
I suggested she tell David that church members everywhere will read his story here and will go out of their way to make sure this never happens again. His experience will end up blessing a lot of children.
Most church people would be shocked to learn that the minister’s children are sometimes targeted for unfair treatment by people with pastor-issues. In the seclusion of a Sunday School room, bullies sometimes go unchecked.
In my opinion, such mean-spirited church members are a tiny minority. But the fact that they are there at all, inflicting pain and injury upon children because of their own frustrations, is almost unforgiveable.
I have encountered the adult children of pastors who confess they never go to church, still carry a deep-seated resentment for what church members did to their father, and are not even sure they believe in God any longer.
The fallout from the poor behavior of God’s people can be far-reaching.
Recently, when we wrote an article for this website identifying the pastor’s wife as the most vulnerable person in the church, the responses fell into two groups: 1) thanking us for saying it, and 2) urging us to write something about the pastor’s children, another group that seems to have a target on its back.