Monday, April 16, 2007

Reflections on Sharing a Job with My Spouse

When Mark and I first came to Heritage in July of 2005, we came sharing the position of Young Adult Pastor. We did this for a couple different reasons: first, we both wanted to do ministry and the church only had one full-time position open. They were willing to go along with this arrangement, and so, we were optimistic that we could make it work. Second, we realized that since both of us were called to ministry, we knew that the odds of us finding a church that was offering two full time pastoral jobs that fit us both were really slim. We realize that this will be an issue for us for a lot of our life, so we decided to take an opportunity that was presented since not all churches would necessarily be open to something like this. Third, we were hoping that if we did a decent job together that maybe someday down the line another position might open up that one of us could apply for and eventually we would both have full-time positions. We knew it wasn’t a guarantee by any means, but we knew it was a possibility. And finally, we felt like Heritage was a great church that we could learn and grow a lot at, and we wanted to give it a try. So, we came sharing a position.

I have to say that when we came, we knew it might be a challenge. For starters, we were newly married, moving to a “new” place [even though Mark grew up here and I was familiar with the QC], had to make all new friends, and we shared a job, a car, and an office. And did I mention it was our first year of ministry as well? There were a lot of variables in there that made for disaster, and to be honest, it was challenging. But we dove in and made the best of it. Luckily for us, due to both of our youth pastors leaving at relatively the same time, we ended up with two full time positions after about a year. Mark stepped over as the interim High School Pastor, and I took on the Young Adult Ministry on my own.

Shortly before we split into two positions, I had a friend email me and mention that she was thinking of sharing a position with her new husband as well, asking for some advice. So here are some things I told her as I reflected on sharing a position with my husband [taken mostly straight from the email I sent her]:

Probably the biggest thing I would suggest is make sure that your position/responsibilities are divided out. Make sure there are things each of you are responsible for that don't require you to always ask the other person for permission to do. Have stuff that each of you can run with and invest in. That has been the most hindering thing for Mark and I trying to do one position together. If your gifts are really different and compliment each other, this could be easy, but we both wanted to do most things [or there were things neither of us wanted to do]. It was harder for us b/c we didn't have a clear plan of what was expected of us. You may both find that there are places that you will sacrifice...where you will give up an area that you would love to do, but that is expected. I'd also say, though, that you should experiment with different things...even if it scares you to teach, try it at least once...step out of your comfort zone and who may find that there is an area that you are gifted in that you never knew about before.

Make sure you are encouraging and supporting each other as much as possible. People may naturally look to the husband as the leader simply b/c he is the male. He may have to be really intentional about letting people know that he alone is not the pastor, but that you are in a sense, each 1/2 a pastor. He will have to be intentional about pointing people toward you for the areas that you invest in. Mark has been super intentional with his actions and words in helping people see that I am also a pastor. Also...communicate, communicate, communicate! If you thought you had to communicate a ton as newlyweds, it ends up being multiplied by the fact that you are working together as well.

Try and find ways to not always talk about ministry. It can get easy to "take work home with you" and one day you will realize all you talk about is ministry. Be intentional with date nights and having evenings where all you do is hang out and be together...I've had to say to Mark, "Let’s not talk about the church at all tonight." Make sure you're having fun together.

See if you can work some hours that are not overlapping [assuming you will share an office]. When Mark and I first started on here, we worked all our hours together. We began to realize that we needed some time apart, so we changed our schedule, so now we each have a day in the office where the other doesn't work [at least in the office...we may go to a coffee shop or work at home], and we still have a couple days where we overlap, but it made a HUGE difference for us to not have all our hours the same, sitting side-by-side all day. If you don’t share an office, this might not be as big of an issue.

Just realize that you will do things/approach things differently. For a long time I always felt like I was doing things/approaching things wrong b/c mark would want to do it differently. It's not wrong...we are just two different people with two different personalities, and we approach different situations differently sometimes. That's okay...probably even good. The first several years of ministry are ones of great discovery – of your gifts, passions, and abilities…take time to understand yourself and realize that people with different personalities do ministry differently sometimes, and that that’s okay.

Looking back, I am thankful for the season of life where we shared a ministry position. I learned a lot and it freed us up to have a lot of time together [we really tried to only work only one full-time positions worth of hours]. I learned a lot about myself and a lot from Mark, and although I’m not sure we’ll ever share a position again, if it ever were to happen, we’d be much more prepared to work in that situation effectively. I know that time was something God used to shape me as a person, a wife, and a leader, and I know it helped lay a foundation upon which we can build for future ministry.

What do you think? Any thoughts to add to my list?

Sunday, April 08, 2007

March Madness

So, I just noticed that my last post was in February and now it's April. So, if anyone still reads this blog, sorry!

March has been one of the craziest months in a long time. I remember looking at the calendar thinking it was going to be one heck of a busy month, and it certainly shaped up to be just that!

What have we been up to, you ask? Well, since you asked, I'd be happy to fill you in a bit :).

Starting at the beginning of the month, on March 9-10, the Heritage Discipleship Dept, of which I am a part, sponsered what we called a "Spiritual Growth Experience." Essencially it was a Friday night and Saturday morning time that we called "The Road Less Traveled." Kevin Myers, the Senior Pastor at Crossroads Community Church near Atlanta, GA was our main speaker. Kevin was supposed to share the speaking with Dr. Bud Bence, one of our profs from IWU, but unfortunatley, on his way here, Bud stopped at a fast food restaurant to get some food, stepped on a railroad tie, and it rolled underneath him. We got a call that said he had dislocated his elbow and that he was rushed to the emergency room. Luckily he is doing okay and Kevin was able to take over the extra speaking times and did a FANTASTIC job. It was a VERY powerful weekend, and I think a challenging weekend for those in our congregation who were able to make the commitment to come.

After that, Mark and I headed out to Denver for a wonderful week of snowboarding and hanging with Em and Josh in their sweet new downtown apt that sits on top of the Tattered Cover Book Store on the infamous 16th St. Mall. We had a blast hanging out, walking around, and spending time on the slopes of Winter Park and Copper Mountain.

We returned from Colorado on a Friday, had two young adult events that weekend, and a couple days later I hopped on a plane and headed for Stroudsburg, PA for a FLAME Church Leadership final class needed for pastoral licensing. And when I say "hopped on a plane," what I really mean is "sat in O'Hare for 11 hours before barely boarding a plane." Yeah...I figure it's my penance for never really having been delayed before. Luckily my teacher was gracious and still gave me credit even though I missed the first four hours of a 2.5 day class.

Well, Looking forward to a less crazy April and a warmer spring [it's APRIL and the high is in the 30's! Brrr!]