This was first published on the cover of my church's newsletter, May 2015 edition. Want to know more about my church? Check out our website at www.fbcwvl.org.
When I was at Gardner-Webb Divinity School (a school--by the way--that has always been friendly to women in ministry), I took a number of assessments intended to gauge my proficiency for various aspects of ministry. I took so many that after a while, they became tedious and frustrating. One of them seemed particularly unnecessary for me personally. The instrument was intended to discern whether or not I would be one of those pastors who put her congregation before her own family. Of course this is certainly a legitimate question to consider, but I was confident I had this one in the bag. Just as I suspected, the results indicated that I was highly unlikely to sacrifice my husband and children for my ministry—no matter how much I loved my church family.
That was then.
It’s a lot harder now that my three children are spread from Asheville to DC to Greensboro and I have a ministry position I love. I often want very much to be in two places at once. I want to hear my son play organ at his church in Greensboro and I want to lead children’s activities at my own church. I want to attend a band concert that meets at the same time as a small group meeting at church. And it’s hard enough with just my own kids; add beloved nieces and nephews, and I start seriously researching self-cloning methods!
Mostly, I think I stay pretty balanced. I miss some meetings here and some concerts there; it works out. But planning for the month of May, it’s been particularly challenging for me to meet the needs of my family without feeling like I’m neglecting my ministry here. See, my younger daughter has a weekend retreat Memorial Day weekend. It’s a big deal for her. I’ve gone for the last three years and have planned to go this year. The only problem is that the very next weekend, my niece is graduating from high school in Baltimore. Attending both of these milestone moments will mean I have to miss two Sunday mornings in a row. I can’t stand that! So even though I know the right thing is to be present at each of these events, I’m sad that I can’t also be worshipping with my church family.
Priorities aren’t always clear-cut are they? And even when the answer is obvious, the solution isn’t always pain-free. My daddy always says, “With everything of value, comes some sacrifice.” When I strive to be the wife and mother I am called to be while also being the minister God called me to be, I feel that sacrifice most acutely. But then, these are the things of greatest value to me: honoring God in my home and in my ministry.
To God be the Glory!
Aileen Mitchell Lawrimore is a mother x 3, wife x 28 (years not men), minister, speaker, writer, retreat leader, and lover of beagles and books. She has a lot to say.