When I began applying for ministry positions last year, I sent every potential church my resume accompanied by my wife’s resume. Primarily, I wanted to be clear that my vision for ministry is a partnership, that she brings unique experience and value aside from me, and that we have worked as a team in the past and intend that for our future.
We did not consider the unintended consequences of being in a full-time ministry with a family, and I’m curious about what others have experienced and how they have overcome some of the logistical challenges of ministry. It’s frustrating that anytime one of our children is sick in the family Jenna has to give up her worship time to stay home and care for them. When they’re healthy kids are challenging enough with two parents available to corral them on Sunday mornings, but I’m utterly useless jumping up and down to ensure everything is running smoothly, making sure to spend time with our visitors and of course spending most of the time up front (these things, I signed up for). All of that adds up to Jenna losing a large part of her worship time altogether, with the rest of it greatly degraded and distracted. There are a lot of sacrifices that come with doing ministry (maybe for discussion in future posts), but we didn’t intend for this to be part of what was sacrificed for ministry (and/or maybe family).
This is certainly not a unique experience for pastors’ wives (or husbands), as many parents take on this burden for various uncontrollable and legitimate reasons. Still many other women take on this role because it is expected of them due to misguided biblical perspectives, lazy men, and mothers attempting to fit others’ expectations.
For our family, and for Jenna, this isn’t really acceptable. Together, we’ve been through times where we lacked regular worship and a strong faith community (the latter of which is not missing here), and it is extremely burdensome on spiritual health and growth. We know the end of that story, and it’s not acceptable. This is simply too significant to ignore until it goes away as kids become more independent and manageable on Sunday mornings.
I’m looking for some logistical/spiritual guidance on these matters, hopefully from some seasoned pastor/parents. Where’s the work around?
Jenna’s reflections on these thoughts:
Like all moms of young children my time with them is so precious to me. I love being with them and loving them through all the little struggles of daily life. And like all moms (and dads), Bradley and I sacrifice a lot of personal time to do so. As a pastor’s wife, I, unfortunately, give up my entire Sunday morning worship time. Bradley is busy managing his responsibilities and I am trying to keep Khaim from running down the aisle during communion. I take communion in the playroom, alone or surrounded by a group of boisterous toddlers. My connection with God on Sunday mornings is much different; I miss being able to be engrossed in a worship song and question a sermon (although I get to do this throughout the week as Bradley and I talk through his thoughts).
In a similar, but very different regard, Bradley misses a bit of his own Sunday connection time. Worrying about his sermon, the power point or soundboard problems, he is unable to fully surrender to worship. In that way, I think we are both looking for ways to rekindle our worship in the absence of “our church time.” Any thoughts?