We’re not totally green to pastoral ministry, but this is clearly the first time we’ve been on staff in a church of this size, let alone been the senior pastor. While we knew what we were getting into, the details have been hitting us the last week and it’s been a bit grueling. It’s a busy season between all the services and Our familyAdvent preparations, filled in with the extra year end office stuff such as finalizing next year’s budget and calendar and doing annual reviews. We have a lot of entertaining to do, which we enjoy. We also have some seriously ill members and some who are dealing with new and serious diagnoses. The daily load on my Beloved is daunting and although I’m on the sidelines, I feel his pressure and share his burdens when I can, mostly by earnest prayer and being a listener.

I think what they don’t tell you about pastoral ministry, and probably couldn’t explain to those who haven’t experienced it, is the emotional resiliency required to move back and forth between talking to families who are broken-hearted about their children’s choices and celebrating with new parents who are dedicating their baby to the Lord. In one day Beloved will visit a terminally ill member in a local hospital, talk to family members who are dealing with aging parents or struggling with a call to missions, work on sermons for current and future weeks, and come home to our children who pile on him squealing with joy because daddy is home. Moving back and forth between the joy and pain that people experience in various  situations in life and finding a balance between coping by just disconnecting, and in serving your congregation by sharing their pain and joy (Gal 6:2) is a challenge that you don’t learn about in Bible college.

As a wife I pray for my husband to have strength for the duties and to serve with a full and generous heart. I make an intentional effort to allow him to be free to do so. As a mother I work hard to make sure my children don’t feel that the church takes too much of daddy’s time and mental/emotional energy. We are very deliberate about planning family time and yet sometimes the duties are just there and must be done. We want our children to understand that it’s an honor to serve this church, and that a life of service is an offering to the Lord. We’ve always prayed that we would be poured out as a pleasing offering to God (Phil 2:17) and love being a shepherd for this flock.

A dear friend regularly prays over Beloved, and it means a lot to us. He prays that God would give Beloved the strength to bear the burdens he has to bear, and to let the burdens go that he does not have to bear. There is so much wisdom in this, and something I have been praying too.