Friday, 14 January 2011

Ministry is another motherhood

ministry is another motherhood

I have thought for some while that being in ministry is much like being a mother.  The two are surprisingly similar.

They are both manically busy, with constant demands on your time that you know are all important.

They are both nurturing; walking alongside people, leading people closer to God, holding people through their grief.

They both involve learning. On this I have one thing to say: my newborn didn't come with a manual!  Ministry neither.

They both have tears and tantrums, from your kids and yourself.  Mine tend to happen at PCC.

And, perhaps predominantly .....

They are both giving of self.  I believe you can't be a good mother of young children if you don't put your child(ren) first in your time, emotions, life, energy, love.  Ministry demands the same; 
- that you give your time (it's no 9-5 job), 
- you give your emotions (through preaching, pastoral care and caring about the outcome of PCCs), 
- you give your life (ministry changes your life beyond all recognition), 
- You give your energy (physical and emotional)
- You give your love (to God, to others)


UKViewer said...


Thanks for drawing an excellent analogy between motherhood and ministry.

It is interesting to hear how others, particularly you in your individual situation make the necessary accommodations and changes to their life to meet the demands of both family life and their ministry.

I know that people can be demanding and want to protect their own position - I have had experience of that, fortunately, I have always been able to take a conciliatory approach and so far have avoided conflict, while hopefully serving in a way that helps our mission and outreach.

I am not involved in individual PCC's but am part of the Benefice Council made up from the Vicar and Church Wardens and Treasurers.

So, I often have the hard stuff to tell the PCC's that they are going to have to pay more (sometimes less) for the services provided jointly across the whole benefice and individually for their quota.

So far, I have not experienced any discord, although, there might be in the future, especially as we are to get another 4 churches in the near future - taking us to 9.

Busy and difficult times ahead - and expansion of ministry alongside of it. I am full of expectation as it will be a challenging time and busy as well. I will blog it as we progress.

Stephen said...

I do wish you well with your ministry.

"with constant demands on your time that you know are all important."

I think that one of the exhausting parts of ministry is actually being able to sort out the demands that are important from those that others desire to be important ( but, probably, actually aren't).
Most parishes have a few incredibly supportive and loving people. I continue to thank God for them.
Most parishes also have their share of "needy-greedies", those for whom, no matter how much time, care, attention etc you give them, it will never be enough. To satisfy them is like trying to fill a bucket with a large hole in the bottom.
Equally, while there will be some on the PCC who share your vision and appreciate that Ministry is a Vocation and that God has called you to somewhere for a reason and for a purpose that for the time being only your person can fulfil, there will also be some(many) on a PCC who have their own agenda. Perhaps at home or at work they are powerless, but on a PCC they have almost a free rein to be as difficult and obstructive as they wish.
Perhaps ministry if a form of Juggling??
But, I wonder if, rather than being another Motherhood(parenthood) what happens in many Parishes is that it becomes another childhood?
For various reasons my mother was a "needy-greedy". No matter how much one gave, did for her, cared for her it could never be enough. For various reasons, this is often the case in Parish life too.
Consider the situation where you are helping your child with their homework. There is a knock on the door and it is one of the more demanding parishioners. Do you say, "please come back later, I'm helping Sam do his homework?" Dare you say that? Would you be allowed to say that without a tantrum or some emotional punishment?
Suppose, though, you are giving time to that same person in your study. There is a knock on the door and young Sam needs urgent help with his homework. Few of us would hesitate to say to our child, something along the lines of "I'm busy now. I'll help you later."
I think that the quality of love we give within the domestic family - and the quality of response we sometimes receive, might help to inform Parish relationships.
Few families can function well without boundaries, nor can a parish. Yet we are trained to understand that Ministry is a full time commitment and are often loath to set up boundaries. We do well to remember that sometimes Jesus just walked away from it all and spent time by Himself.
It's a long, sometimes hard, journey = and as you say there is no manual. In parenting, there can be no limits - I truly think that is part of the "contract" of having children.
In Ministry, I think there needs to be. A Parish doesn't become more mature by encouraging those in Ministry to continue being parental.
I'll stop.
But Good Luck in all areas of your life - and every blessing.

Sally said...

Good post- but remember that even mums and ministers need time out, all giving and no receiving = burn out!!!

Emma Major said...

thankyou all three of you for your comments, you have said much will I will learn from. boundaries are indeed something which I need to look at, I am not good at saying no and know I need to get stricter with my time and my family time. Much of my blogging is reflective or becomes reflective afterwards, and it is thanks to people like you who feel able to share with me that I can learn.

Chelliah Laity said...

Thank you for a good post which demonstrates that our feminine nurturing characterics are utterly pervasive in so many areas of our lives.

Emma Major said...

exactly chelliah, that's what I was trying to get across.