Thursday, January 28, 2010

Getting started

I am not sure how this experiment is going to work out. I don't like to read about other people's naval-gazing, and I don't know if people will want to read mine. But I do like putting my thoughts in writing, and I can't seem to keep journals around for very long - either my daughter gets a hold of them and fills them with precious pictures and writing, or they get lost in the van. Or I just get out of the habit and don't write for a long time.

So here goes.

I recently became a pastor's husband. I didn't marry a pastor, my wife became one. And I am thrilled about that - it's who she was born to be. Sometime, I should write about how we met, fell in love, got married, had 3 beautiful babies, and jumped into the pastoral ministry adventure. But that seems like too much to tackle in my first post.

I do enjoy the idea of being a pastor's spouse. I have always been a "helper" person, instead of the person in charge - it fits my personality. Being the pastor's husband - as opposed to the pastor's wife - is a somewhat unusual situation. I'm certainly not the only one, and the Methodist church has been ordaining women as pastors for about 50 years, but still, most people don't know quite what to do with me. I don't play the organ or host Bible studies in the parlor for the ladies of the church. I am not impeccably dressed every Sunday, nor do I keep the home spotless just in case parishoners drop by unexpectedly(not living in the parsonage has kept this situation from happening very often). But I do have a role to play, don't I? I make sure the kids are marginally presentable on Sunday morning and that they are safe. We are very cautious about them being alone with anyone at church, even those people we tend to trust the most. This (I think justified) paranoia comes from experience at a previous church, and it is my most important responsibility. I teach a Sunday School class too, but that's the extent of my visible service to the church.

I think my calling is as a helper to my wife, and that's how most of my service takes place. Helping sometimes involves physical activity - helping to set up a room or something for Bible study, etc. But usually it is just giving her moral support and doing a lot of listening. The role of pastor is a difficult one - there are lots of people to please, if you are a "pleaser." Expectations are very high, and no one thinks you're working hard. There are no real days off unless you move mountains to get everything covered, get out of town, and turn off the cell phone. Most folks in the church are well-intentioned, good people. And at every church, there are some who are not. The issues of power and control are present wherever people organize themselves into a group, and the church is certainly no exception - in fact, it is a "poster-child" for this problem.

So in her first appointment, there is a difficult learning curve to ascend. I think she's doing great, but we're both neurotic enough, that it's still an everyday challenge. We're getting there, I think. The trick will be to be patient and take a long-term view, and to remember why we are here.

Oh, and I didn't mention my job yet. I am an engineer who works for a software company. We make software for engineers who design chips. I spent a lot of time in graduate school for this, and I like my job most of the time. My career is impacted by our choice to do this ministry thing, but not severely. My company has an office about 100 miles from where we are serving - until the summer of 2009, I worked there at least 1 day a week. Prior to my wife starting seminary, I was there every day. But the people in my work group are all on the other side of the continent, so as long as I have a reliable internet connection, I can work most anywhere. This is quite a blessing, and has made our move possible (or at least more tolerable).