One of the quirks of being a parish pastor who is also a parent is that we take our children with us to work on the biggest day of each work week. This is in no way the same as “Take Your Daughter to Work Day” or “Take Your Son to Work Day.”
Imagine that you are a surgeon scheduled to insert a pacemaker or you are a caterer with a big wedding or you are an administrative assistant with a major report due. And there’s the expectation that your children will be with you – maybe down the hall or maybe right beside you in a Pack N Play. There are not many professions that assume that the professional will bring his or her children along. But that’s what clergy parents of young children do on a regular basis.
I look back to those Sunday mornings when I packed up my sermon and liturgy, the lesson plans for a new members’ class, a diaper bag, and snacks (in case there were needs after worship that ran into the kids’ lunchtime.) We piled into the car and drove to church, among the first to arrive and the last to leave. What was a one or two hour stint for most children was about four or five hours for our children who – as the pastors’ kids – were expected to be well-behaved, friendly, and poised, even as preschoolers.
Our own PKs are long grown now and it’s been a while since I felt the utter exhaustion of Parenting While Pastoring on a Sunday morning. (I remember the unspeakable joy when FBC was old enough to drive and the kids could arrive and leave like regular people.) But, for some reason, as I was driving alone yesterday to preach, I remembered B who was the paid nursery worker in our congregation when the kids were tiny.
B. made it possible for me to do my work on Sunday mornings because she was already in the nursery ready to welcome my kids to a safe place. And the congregation made it possible for her to be there because they paid her for arriving early and leaving late so that The Pastors’ Kids could have a place to hang out while their parents prepared for Sunday School and Worship.
So thank you to all those – paid nursery workers and generous friends – who helped raise our children on Sunday mornings. We couldn’t have done it without you.
And if your pastor has young children, note that they could use some kudos and some grace for doing something rather extraordinary every Sunday.