March lifts up Pastor’s Spouse Appreciation.

This post is in honor of Harriet Bryant, I offer a “Top Ten” list of “UNPARALLELED” ways that she supports this pastor which are unknown to most people:

10) UNPARALLELED FLEXIBILITY. When a typical pastor’s week is—-10-20 phone calls/texts per day, 5-10 emails per day, 10-20 hours of sermoncraft, 2-5 hours of worship planning, 2-5 hours of meetings, 5-10 hours of visits, 5-10 hours of driving, and 3-15 hours of purely random stuff————family often gets stuffed/worked into whatever spot it can find—this means car repairs, birthday celebrations, grocery trips, family meals, etc., are prone to amendment with little to no lead time. The pastor’s spouse has to be as okay with this as they can.

9) UNPARALLELED MANAGEMENT. People generally love the pastor—the pastor’s spouse may be seen as a competitor, as baggage, as a tack-on, or as a gift. At times people “call” a pastor to serve a parish yet think that the spouse and kids are part of the call and therefore owe the parish tacit allegiance and carte blanche use of time. The pastor’s spouse has to draw boundaries, and has to do so in ways that will minimize the backlash that the pastor receives as a consequence of the boundary drawing.

8) UNPARALLELED ACCOMMODATION. Major holidays are NOT a part of the pastor’s family’s life, at least not in the Publix-Pilgrim-Commercial-Norman Rockwell-Way. Demand on the pastor’s time is always heaviest around the holidays—extra services, extra care for people facing “firsts,” i.e. first Christmas w/out a hubby in 49 years, first Easter with no/kids in the house for baskets & hidden eggs, first Thanksgiving Day alone in 71 years. Tough times for many folks and the pastor is sought out for care. Major holidays for pastor’s family are often celebrated on days and at times other than the calendar date. And the pastor’s spouse has to accommodate accordingly, even if it is no fun.

7) UNPARALLELED UNDERSTANDING. The pastor’s spouse is the frustrated confidant of the pastor. When the pastor is down and out, having heard or seen (or both) something, often they cannot share this something that eats their mind and heart. This can be an awkward space. The pastor’s spouse copes with this as best they can, especially if they are let down—this sometimes happens. The spouse is in an extremely positive place, ready to laugh and play like Tigger and into the home walks Eeyore. And the reverse is also true…sometimes the pastor is jubilant about something too cool——–and yet, they cannot share with spousey-poo. Frustrating??? You betcha!!!!

6) UNPARALLELED FORBEARANCE. On-call is a family affair. When the phone rings late at night—do people really think it only wakes the pastor? Think about it. The spouse hears the “ding-a-ling-a-ling” just like the pastor. Reckon they rest well if the pastor arises, listens, becomes deeply concerned and speaks in hushed sincere tones? And then comes the spouse’s work day with poor rest….hoping that the day is light because they are already edgy.

5) UNPARALLELED RESTRAINT—-standing in the space and telling the pastor’s spouse ad infinitum about your last three vacations in calendar year 2014 when the pastor’s family hasn’t had one single week to themselves—-is it smart? Be glad no one went to the emergency room or the county lock-up. My spouse is a sarcastic ninja and hasn’t killed anyone yet—but she has thought about it.

4) UNPARALLELED PATIENCE—-Common sense is uncommon, practically extinct, yet being obtuse is on the rise. The pastor’s spouse, perhaps 30 times a day, wants to deliver a Leroy Jethro Gibbs head-slap, to the pastor, the parishioners, and the Church. Rarely does the head-slap happen—almost never.

3) UNPARALLELED LOVE—-The pastor’s family often does without because they give their stuff away. Often during the week people are at the table where a family meal for four feeds six, or eight, or more. Love stretches the fare. Love makes what is there enough and more than enough and the pastor’s spouse sees this again and again and again. And it goes way beyond food—way, WAY, WAY!!!!

2) UNPARALLELED HOSPITALITY—-those who think they deserve hospitality rarely do, and the pastor’s spouse often dwells in solidarity with those for whom gracious, extravagant generosity is a miracle. The pastor’s spouse becomes the face and presence of generosity to invisible ones who somehow manage not to be seen by the horde. This can be a matter of choosing where to sit during service, who to talk to during meals, what time to be simply alone in a hall as an available listener.

1) UNPARALLELED GRACE—“Greater love has no one than this—that they lay down their life…” Amen and amen. To lay down one’s life for others is no one time thing. It is setting self aside, dying to rise, day in and day out. That is what my pastor’s spouse is for me. This is the kind of grace that fuels the pastor—and from my spouse, it is NEVER, N-E-V-E-R in short supply. Thank God for my spouse, Harriet Lynn Rhea Bryant.