Ministry: not ideal to raise a family?

As some of you are aware, my husband is a pastor. When thinking about starting a family, thoughts of the many challenges of being in the ministry + having children come to mind. Now, let me explain, I’m not saying that those in ministry shouldn’t have children. I’m also not concluding that we shouldn’t as a result of my husband’s profession. I’d just like to write out/process some of the observed challenges that being in full-time ministry and raising a family seems to present:

  1. It’s pretty much the only profession where there are spoken and unspoken expectations on the children. The only thing close to being similar re: spotlight is being a politician or celebrities child. Sorry, PK’s (pastor’s kid), you get all the spotlight with very little dough 🙂
  2.  Speaking of dough, while Pastor’s make more now than they did back when my Grandfather was in the ministry, there are few that receive good work benefits. As a result, the pastor’s spouse may be forced to work outside of the home for the salary & benefits.
  3. Children who grow up with a parent in the ministry rarely experience going to church together as a family. In our case, I would essentially operate as a single parent every Sunday morning.
  4. Pastor’s kids have no choice in the matter. While being a Pastor’s Wife isn’t always easy, I at least had some idea as to what I was getting into. In recent years, the number of PK’s who have left the church as adults as a result of hating the experience of their father being a pastor is scary and very sad.
  5. Most are aware that the Pastor’s work schedule is challenging. He or she works every weekend (forget last minute getaways with the family!). In addition to working regular office hours, the pastor often works evenings as well. And don’t forget holidays! 🙂

For the reasons above and others, raising a family in the ministry presents its unique set of challenges. Sadly, what I have found is that very few PK’s would choose to raise children in the ministry as a result of their experience. But times are changing. There’s a new emphasis in many denominations and churches regarding pastoral health which includes things like self-care and family time. Maybe raising a child while in full-time ministry is not ideal (keep in mind that life is rarely ideal). But maybe, just maybe,  it’s becoming more (& not less) ideal with the passing of every year.

As always, I welcome your comments! If you are a PK, or are raising a family in the ministry, it would be especially neat to hear from you. Whoever you are, it’s great to hear your thoughts whether you agree, disagree, or just have a thought to share.

How to help someone with mental illness

People often wonder what they can do to help a loved one with a mental illness. Rest assured, there are things that you can do. The following are 5 ways to help. If you have something to add to this list please do!

5 ways that you can help someone with mental illness: 

1.  Just as someone with a heart condition needs to utilize medical assistance to stay well, so does the person with mental illness.  You can help by assisting the person in finding appropriate supports and you can help to validate the need for this. Most often, this help comes in the form of counseling and/or seeing a doctor.

2. If the person is hospitalized, visit them! Unfortunately those hospitalized for mental illness tend to receive less visitors and flowers than those hospitalized for other medical conditions. Visit as often as you are able and bring flowers or a special gift for them.

3. Seek to learn as much as you can about your loved ones illness. The internet is not always a reliable database. Ask those who work in mental health what resources they would recommend. See if your loved one will let you come to an appointment with their doctor or counselor so that you can learn more.

4. Let the person know that you are a safe person to talk to. End stigma by letting them know that they can be honest with you re: dark thoughts. Taking this a step further, also remind them of their local crisis number (24/7 service) plus the option of going to the ER if ever needed to keep safe.

5. Tell your loved one of what you look forward to in the future together. Most tend to feel discouraged after receiving a diagnosis of mental illness. Encourage them that their diagnosis doesn’t make up the whole of who they are. Remind them of:  who they still are  (positive aspects of their life and personality) and the exciting possibilities that still lay ahead.

Do you have anything else you’d add to this list? If so, please leave a comment below. Thank you for thinking about how you can better support your loved one with mental illness.

For further reading, click here: HOW TO HELP A LOVED ONE WITH MENTAL ILLNESS

Pastoral Ministry: the Best and the Hardest

Being in pastoral ministry has its great moments and its challenging ones. Here’s my thoughts on the best and the hardest of them all.

The Best: Getting to know so many different people. Being a pastor’s wife gives me opportunities to meet new people (yay!) and our social network is greatly increased as a result.

The Hardest: Getting to know so many different people.

In regards to the hardest, I’m not talking about those with personality disorders or even the complaints people make (although these aren’t a walk in the park either). Rather, I find the hardest part of being a Pastor’s wife is that we are regularly  exposed to the sadness and suffering that others face. When your network is greatly increased by your husband’s profession as a pastor, you end up knowing more people who are diagnosed with cancer, marriages that are on the rocks, those dealing with childhood trauma, unexpected deaths and you attend funerals more frequently.

As a social worker, I can no longer live in naivety towards human suffering. My profession reminds me of the brokenness of this world on a regular basis. Also, as a pastor’s wife, I also can no longer live in naivety towards human suffering as there’s rarely a week that goes by where someone that we know (as a result of pastoral connections) isn’t heavy on our hearts.

You may be able to appreciate why the best thing about being a pastor’s wife for me is also the hardest. Being in ministry means that we trade some naivety for additional tears and sadness in this life. To know more people (the best) also requires to know more suffering (the hardest).

There you have it, that’s my answer to what’s the best and the hardest part of pastoral ministry as of July 11th, 2013.  If you have a thought, don’t be shy, would love to hear from you in a comment below.

Real Life Pastor Funnies

While being a pastor or a pastor’s wife isn’t always fun or funny, there are times when its just priceless! Here are two of the funniest things said to us to date:

1) After we bought our house but hadn’t moved yet, the children next door were having a conversation with their grandfather. The youngest boy said to his Grandfather, “we’ll have to be very careful when we go fishing”. When Grandpa inquired as to why he said this the boy explained, “we need to be extra careful that we catch and release properly because the ministry is going to be living next door soon!”. He had heard that a minister had bought the house and assumed it was the Ministry of Natural Resources!

2) A couple told their non-churched neighbour that their minister was coming over for dinner. The man said with his girlfriend present, “oh, we could get married when he comes over!”.  Funny that he thought he could just pop on over during dinner and get married by the minister. But then he went on to say,  “shoot, no we can’t, I’m not divorced yet”.

Never a dull moment! 🙂