I married a pastor.
John graduated from seminary and got a job working in youth ministry right before our wedding. For the next twelve years, he took the trips, led the studies, planned the games, taught the lessons, scheduled the concerts, met with the parents, baptized the believers, prayed with the doubters.
He celebrated the graduates, grieved with the dying, and sat with those they left behind.
A lot of the job was hard. Some of it was life-giving. The best part for John was the people – his fellow pastors, the students, the volunteers.
That’s the part we miss the most.
Eight months ago John served his last day as a youth pastor working at the church. (I wrote about that on my blog if you want to read more – Why My Husband is Quitting His Job).
We have loved so much about this open time where John has not had a traditional job with work hours and a job description and a salary. We are thankful for the space to do what I know many would benefit from but aren’t able – financially or otherwise – to practice.
But we have also struggled on days – especially when we are put into situations where we know we will see a lot of people who know us but don’t know what we’re up to.
And they will ask John if he’s found a job yet.
And we won’t know how to say, Not only has he not found a job, but he’s not actually looking for one right now.
Weather talk ensues.
It’s uncomfortable and not normal, what we’re doing. Rather than looking for a job out there, we are praying and watching as a job forms within him, within us. It doesn’t have a lot of lines or definitions, but it has heart, motivation, and some small amount of clarity.
Because, you see, I married a pastor.
And the fact that he is not on a payroll at a church does not mean he isn’t a pastor; it just means his pastoring looks different right now. It doesn’t change his desire, his gifting, or his calling. In the past, he’s pastored teenagers. In the future, he’ll pastor others.
Right now, he pastors our family.
Sundays have never been as calm as they are now. It’s a sad commentary on our pastoral family, I know. It seems like those who work at churches might be the most spiritually formed, the most centered, the most eager to walk through the church doors.
It isn’t true. But you already know that.
Last week as we drove to church (as a family!) (I’m still not used to this!), one of the kids mentioned something about being bored on our way. Our church is only a ten minute drive from our house, so boredom is not the core issue here.
I held my tongue and faced the window, rolling my eyes as hard as I could because I am mature and motherly.
But my husband the pastor, ever more willing to meet our children right where they are, spoke a few words of wisdom as we made our way down Spring Garden street next to the railroad tracks.
He told them two things we need to learn how to do that are hard but will serve us well in life:
1. We need to learn how to be bored.
In their minds, boredom equals doing nothing and maybe that’s the point. He was talking to the kids, but when is the last time I did nothing? Checked off nothing? Accomplished nothing? Spoke nothing? Bought nothing? Planned for nothing?
I’m learning to practice stillness more regularly, to let the morning-time become sacred and silent when I can.
His words reminded me of my desire to continue to learn how to be bored well, how to bring my nothing into the presence of Christ and simply be with Him.
And then he spoke again, words that surprised me considering the context of the car but didn’t surprise me in the context of our lives.
2. We need to learn how to recover from embarrassment.
I thought of his recent conversation with an acquaintance, someone who asked him the question all men seem to ask each other when they want to learn more: What do you do?
I thought of how Christ is forming John’s confidence around an identity outside of his job description, but also how that can be hard and even embarrassing at times.
How many times have I been embarrassed but covered it up by shrinking back or lashing out? What connections and experiences have I missed because I’m either remembering a former embarrassment or fearing a new one?
As we pulled into the church parking lot where my husband is not a pastor, I was thankful for the way he pastors us just by listening, paying attention, and being himself.
What’s an important lesson you’re learning these days that no one ever thought to teach you?