Didn’t I say to set boundaries two weeks ago? This is different. Boundaries means establishing where the church ends and your family life begins.
Integrity means being the same person at home that you are at the church.
We hear this complaint in a variety of forms from minister’s spouses and family members. The research on church worker wellness backs up what we hear on our retreats.
“When we’re at church, we see the spiritual leadership he shows. We only wish he would lead us in prayer and worship at home, too.”
“The people at the church always see his sunny disposition. At home we have to deal with all of the moodiness.”
“I often hear people comment how wonderful it must be to live with someone who is so gracious and kind all of the time. If only they knew what we know.”
“The church gets his best; we get what’s leftover.”
There’s a temptation for people to assume (and for us to believe) that church work professionals make the best spouses and parents.
The reality is that humans make the best pastors and church workers.
Paul wrote, “It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery” (Galatians 5:1). At Grace Place Wellness, we like to talk about Baptismal Wellness: knowing your identity as a sinner redeemed by the blood of Christ, and living in the freedom that Jesus gives.
The enemy of Baptismal freedom is the compulsion among far too many church workers to clothe themselves with the “glittering image” of a false self when in public, in official church and ministry settings.
This carefully edited version of self is a heavy burden to bear, and it often collapses when brought home. Who could carry a weight like that around for very long?
Integrating my Baptismal identity in Christ with my ministerial vocation and with my vocation as spouse and parent at home doesn’t always happen easily.
The hardest part might be showing the true self at church. You’ve got emotions and feelings. There are appropriate ways to express those emotions to the faith community so that people know when you are hurt, disappointed, frustrated, tired or confused.
It means seeking grace together through mutual confession and shared absolution. That’s what the freedom of the gospel is for. We don’t have to fake it. We’re free to live boldly as children of God still learning the way of walking in the light of grace.
At church, and at home, too.
Sometimes the yoke of a life in ministry can be a heavy burden to bear. The constant switching of ministerial and personal personas can grind you down and take the joy out of the most joyous vocation.
The joy of ministry is sharing the freedom of the gospel of Christ.
Remember that you are not just a sharer of the good news, but a receiver, too.
Thanks for reading.