There has been much rich conversation today about upcoming sabbaticals, sabbath, and pastoral ministry. My favorite definition so far, from David Wood, one of our co-facilitators: " A sabbatical is a time when all that has been 'background' to your ministry -- your own spiritual life, your family, the origins of your call, your passions -- is given time to be foreground, while the foreground of ministry -- the tasks of preaching and pastoral care and administration -- drop away for a time." Exactly.
On another, crankier note, I was reminded again how little we know about doing ministry in the era of co-parenting and new gender roles. Eugene Peterson is often held up as a model for how one can be in parish ministry while still doing serious reading and writing. Here's a man who served a congregation for 28 years, with only one sabbatical in the midst of it, and still wrote countless books. His secrets? Well, he clearly had a strong vision of the ministry of the laity and handed over many tasks to his members. But there's another thing -- he has a wife, one who clearly was happy to take the traditional role of pastor's wife and see that as a calling.
Well, I don't have a wife. I have an active father to my children, but definitely no wife, and not one eager to be an upfront pastor's spouse either (not that anyone at my congregation expects that of him). It's really hard for me not to be resentful of the many men in generations past -- and quite a few still today -- whose careers benefit from the fact that their spouses have willingly picked up the slack.
I have to constantly remind myself that our mission is together as a family, even though our work worlds tend to pit our careers against one another. Fortunately for Will and me, our passions and commitments are blessedly compatible, even when the reality of modern life makes us feel like we're competing for time.