American Baptist and
American Baptist and
"A PEEK INTO THE FISHBOWL"
by Debra Hegley
When the Pastor-Parish Relations Committee requested that I write a Dialogue article about life in a Pastor’s family, I found myself searching for something to say. I hope these thoughts will prove helpful.
In many ways the pastor’s daily home life is much like that of other families. There is the rhythm of the household: meals together, children to raise, and there are bills to pay. A big difference for most, if not all Pastoral families, is that as Pastors are called to be available for the church and church families, and more often than not, this places church needs ahead of the biological family. Serving Christ through their call to a particular ministry is their purpose. As adults entering into Parish life we understand this reality. This is not to say that in selfish, less Christ centered moments there is not a feeling of disappointment when family plans are suddenly altered. This is a human family after all.
In a single Pastor church, such as U.C.P. there is also the void for the Pastor’s family in not having a Pastor. We must be creative in finding the moral and spiritual support we need.
I believe Pastoral life is hardest for the children. As much as we focus on the privilege to serve, this does not always satisfy a child’s heart or soothe the frustration of having another family centered activity redefined, postponed or cancelled. It does not quiet the “Why can’t we be like everybody else” question. Children see other families spending time together on weekends as the Pastor’s workload remains constant on weekends.
Although the Pastor may appear to spend a lot of time at home, much of this time is spent closeted away working on sermons, newsletter articles, documents for denominations, reports for various committees and a myriad of other tasks. In most professions there exists a separation between work life and home life. For our families that distinction is unclear, perhaps nonexistent.
The Pastor’s family spends a great deal of time “on the job” with him/her. Imagine if all of your children spent many hours in your place of work interacting with your colleagues. What a different view they would likely have of your work and maybe the folks with whom you work.
For some, like us, living in a Parsonage means that we even live on church property. This is not to say that the church owned home is not lovely and comfortable, but rather to give you insight that it does further melt home life into church life. As a member of the Trustees in one of the churches Jim served used to so accurately state, we are the current "tenants" of the parsonage.
I will not detail the remarkable number of meetings, functions, and obligations in which a Pastor participates within and outside the home church. My understanding is that this will be addressed by future articles. Suffice it to say, that the Sunday morning time slot is minute compared with the vast number of hours Pastors spend in service during the week.
When I was growing up, my adopted Grandfather was a Pastor. Thankfully, I entered into the role of Pastor’s spouse with realistic expectations. My adopted Grandmother was clear and candid about her life and this insight has been invaluable throughout my married life. She was my mentor, and whether she knew it or not, I was watching.
The ministry has vastly changed in the last few generations. Pastors were once regarded as scholars and the expectations placed upon them were quite different. Tending to some pastoral care and preaching a great sermon were their main focus. There was time during most weeks to compose and memorize a sermon. Now the ministry brings with it a multitude of varied obligations and expectations. When in the midst of all the daily challenges, you receive a quality sermon from the Pastor you are truly blessed. Imagine for a moment that you were required to write a thought provoking and factually accurate dissertation every week, and you were to make your delivery captivating for a diverse group of people. This was to be achieved in the midst of your other daily duties.
In conclusion, I must tell you, it is with deep gratitude in my heart that I join Jim in serving U.C.P. It is truly a privilege to be present in this church body. It is my prayer filled hope that as you read my words, just for a moment you could glimpse the realities of Pastoral family life. We do indeed consider our family blessed to serve the Lord through Parish ministry here at U.C.P. As we celebrate your joys and mourn your sorrows, we are honored in the sharing. Yet as humble humans it is sometimes weighty. We so appreciate those who uplift us in words and with prayer.
A few pictures...