Pastor Seeking Pastoral Advice

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?

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Transcendance of Music

worship, praise, lift up to God
worship, praise, lift up to God

At Open Door, we're taking one Sunday a month to focus on lifting our voices and lives up to God

Sometimes I wonder about the manner in which the modern world has the ability to fill every moment of their lives with noise. It’s easy to do today, and most take the opportunity and run with it. The tv gets turned on in the morning, the radio on the way to work, texting on breaks, a phone call on the way home, the internet before dinner, texting during dinner and tv before bed. And with the rise of the Walkman, the portable disc player and now the iPod, it becomes even more accessible to fill every moment, but there’s something unique about the mp3 player that should be taken into account: the transcendence of music.

We haven’t had access to portable music devices for very long, but today it’s unavoidable. Everywhere you go, people have headphones on or ear buds in as they go about their business commuting, walking, working out, sitting, working or while doing other tasks. Music and singing takes us into a unique place, sometimes other-worldly even. What is it about music that allows us to transcend the moment?

Every night I sing “God Has Smiled on Me” to my son, Khaim before I lay him down in bed. Sometimes he tries to sing with me and sometimes he cries at first, but always he is calmed down and peacefully lays down and drifts off to sleep. Recently I’ve been singing some Jimmy Buffet after he gets out of the shower in the morning, and for maybe the only 3-4 minutes of his waking hours, he sits peacefully. We’ve noticed a stark difference in his behavior in the mornings if there is music playing in the background. Music and singing has a way of impacting our mood and experience in a somewhat unexplainable way.

It’s no wonder that praise and worship has been such a significant part of our religion for so long. Saul could only find peace from the evil spirit of the Lord from the tranquility of David’s music in his courts; this is a testament to the cross-cultural, cross-generational and cross-historical nature of music’s impact on our lives.

It’s the transcendence of music and song that brings me back again and again. It has a way of taking the mundane and interference out of life to provide clarity and focus. When we worship, the music and singing has an increased significance as that transcendence from the moment brings us to the realization that our God is beyond comprehension. In an even deeper moment of transcendence we are connected to God in a unique way that seems to be beyond explanation. It is not a coincidence that we often feel closest to God in moments of worship. It unites us with God in a way that we are able to understand God’s power and magnificence not with the words that are being sung, but greater comprehension comes with the fragility and openness of our worship itself.