It was years ago that I received a call from a neighboring pastor with an unusual request.
"Mike," he said, "my son John's in jail. He won't talk to me. Will you go see him?"
Of course I agreed. I don’t remember John's offense, but I do remember seeing a shaken 17 or18-year-old boy in a cell with men twice or three times his age. I learned that John was to be released soon, so I shared this with him and also encouraged him to use this experience as a springboard for growth. I also offered to be available for him if he wanted to talk in the future.
John told me he couldn't talk with his father, that his father was always angry with him and insisted since he was the pastor's child more was expected of him. John's father has since died and I've not seen John in a long time. I did pray for him this week that God would encourage his heart and use him for kingdom work.
I suppose I'm an expert on pastor's children since I have two. But I can only remember one time a well-intentioned lady told me my daughter should be in a certain extra-curricular activity at the church since "she's the pastor's daughter." Our daughter was active in church and loved her youth group, but had lost interest in this particular ministry. I gingerly told the lady that we must give people space to find their own way and their own place of service in God's work. The Master Designer made us all different for his own purpose, and he didn't use a cookie-cutter!
But I can remember other times I wasn't quite as understanding as a father in our house. There were occasions I had to gather family together and admit I messed up, or that I said something in haste or anger and I needed their forgiveness. This public confession was prefaced by private confession to the Lord.
No parent is perfect, and we fool ourselves and others when we claim otherwise. But in our frail humanity we can model humility before God and others. We can teach our children what to do when they mess up. And we can underscore to them that God's love is constant. He doesn't withhold love from us when we willfully sin, but continues to love us back to himself.
The golden key of effective human relations is in Philippians 2: 3: "Let nothing be done through strife or vainglory; but in lowliness of mind let each esteem other better than themselves."
One way we honor others is to be sure our relationships stay mended, at home and elsewhere.