Thursday, February 17, 2011

Wednesday was a big day for PreacherDad and I. We were interviewed by "the powers that be" in order to move along in our process towards ordination. (It went well, by the way.) During my interview, I was asked whether my ministry or my family was my highest priority. I don't know what they wanted me to say, and I don't think I could've actually answered the question and been happy with my answer.
I eventually said something along the lines of "Gee, I really hate to choose they are both so important, but I guess I have to say family, because Baby J only gets one set of parents and he didn't ask for them to be in ministry." But it was a lame answer, and I keep wondering, should I have to choose?
I don't really think of my ministry and my family as separate lives I'll eventually have to choose between. I am PreacherMama... it's one word. The two are inseparable. Motherhood has forever changed my outlook on the world and my vision of God and my approach to ministry. Likewise, being pastors affects everything about the way PreacherDad and I raise our child. He will grow up influenced by our theological preferences, meal-planning revolves around committee meeting schedules, and we had to be intentional to choose a discipline philosophy that would allow us to be consistent whether we are at home or in the midst of a crowded room of parishioners.
So, if you come here for just the cute mommy blog posts, or solely to read about what's happening in my ministry, I fear you will meet with some level of frustration. For now, I've decided that I will neither change nor apologize for the fact that this blog is both/and. It is both a ministry blog and a place to brag about the fact that I'm raising the cutest, most enjoyable child I have ever met.


  1. Did they ask PreacherDad the same question? The feminist in me really wonders if any men got that question. I say you answered quite well! And I'm not sure we have to choose. I believe God can give us everything we need to do it all (though not perfectly)! Congrats!

  2. I agree with April and the answer is most likely "No" and it never has been.
    I really felt the need to respond to this post because I had the same question asked of me at one of my DCOM interviews. I wrestled with how to answer and I basically said that I feel I have more than one call in life and that I have a call as a mother. The honest truth is if our children are not OK, then it would be hard to focus on our ministry. If you were in the hospital with James and got a phone call regarding a parishioner you would stay with James and so would his father. I have to say, I was very proud of my DCOM committee. When I was asked to step out after the interview for their normal deliberations it was taking a long time and I wasn't sure why. Well when I went back in there, the first thing that happened was the person who asked me the question apologized to me. They had a long discussion about why it is an inappropriate question. I appreciated the apology and offered this person the same grace and mercy that they have offered me so many times.
    I am with you, I am a preachermama too. My experiences with my children make me a better person. They have asked me some of the deepest theological questions I have ever received.
    As for separating who you are, don't do it. Not for a blog, not for a congregation. It would be hiding who you truly are and as pastors we are called to help people live authentically as a child of God. Model it, live it, share it, we are blessed because you have.

  3. I tried to post earlier from my phone, but ran into fumble finger difficulties. I want to clarify that although I don't think he's ever been asked to choose one or the other as a priority, but he has been asked how he will balance life as pastor, pastor's spouse and parent. I will also say I wasn't necessarily offended by the question, so much as I was jarred by the thought of splitting myself in half, and then trying to decide which half was more important to me.
    Later after I got home, I was reading a friend's blog entry about what he;s trying to do with his blog (and why it isn't happening much right now) and then I read this link:
    posted by a dear friend and fellow preachermom on authenticity. I especially took note of the very sad testimonies in the comments of that link from pastors, pastor's children, and parishioners of how authenticity had failed in so many church settings. It broke my heart. It also allowed me to finally put my finger on why I've been reluctant to blog lately. I haven't just been to busy. I've been unable to decide what my blog should be. Thanks ladies, for your honest and thoughtful responses. I'm hoping a few others will share their own experiences.

  4. I have two thoughts:
    1. My dad was asked 30 years ago at a medical residency interview if he would ultimately choose his family or medicine, if he had to pick. The issue of balance is a legitimate question regardless of gender, and certainly isn't new. Although they should probably ask everyone or no one.
    2. We're all asked to split ourselves all the time (friend/professional/family/self) but it's nearly impossible to articulate how it's done successfully. In my interview they asked kind of weird questions about my personal life, and I think it was because they couldn't figure out how to word a balance-related question to a single person. It ended up kind of funny, actually.

  5. Allison,
    1. I agree that questions about balance are truly legitimate, and ought to be asked. Sometimes they are asked appropriately and sometimes not. This time didn't feel inappropriate to me, I was merely writing here about the thought process it started for me.
    2. My mentor was single when she was ordained, and she also has stories about the very awkward way that part of the interview went, since they didn't seem sure how/what to ask a single person about balance of personal and professional life.

  6. (posting as Tom here) Rachel told me about your question, and it's one that burns me a bit too. I think my response would be something like "I have faith that God can take care of both."

    On a certain level, it's really not my choice, at this point. I'd also be tempted to cite the passage where the Lord of Life himself says "what God has joined, let no one put asunder," but that passage might injure someone who's been through a divorce, so I'll stick with "God will handle this."