Saturday, 27 Nov 2021

Ask Amy: Pastor’s child feels weight of service – The Denver Post

Dear Amy: My father is a pastor of a small church. He’s been pastoring for 30 years.

I’m in my 40s and I’ve played a major role in our church all these years. I’ve carried many roles, such as worship leader, choir director, Sunday school teacher, music director, and youth leader.

Since the pandemic our church has had to pivot, and it hasn’t been easy. We’ve lost many members during this time.

My father is in his 70s and still going strong, but it seems like we don’t have a vision for where we’re going as a church.

Sometimes I want to just be a member and not play such a large role in the church. I’m also a teacher and mom of two preteens. If I’m there, it’s just expected that I have to work.

How do I tell my dad I need a break without breaking his heart?

— Faithful Preachers Kid

Dear Faithful: I’ve shared your question with my friend Christian Coon, a United Methodist pastor, co-founder of Urban Village Church in Chicago, and host of the podcast “Failing Boldly.”

Christian answers: “Pastors love dedicated volunteers! Unfortunately, we too often take them for granted. We don’t mean to, but in the midst of juggling many challenges in ministry, we simply count on having people who can be counted on.

Unfortunately, the spiritual lives of these faithful volunteers can suffer in the process.

I sense in your desire for a break that perhaps your faith life might be bit dry, too. You might want to convey this to your father by saying something like, ‘Dad, you have been one of the most influential figures in my spiritual journey. Your sermons have fed me time and again. I still want to hear these sermons, but I’m also feeling led to explore ways to nurture my soul. I think that means stepping away from my leadership positions.’

Here’s an idea that might allow you to soothe your own soul while staying connected to the church (as well as offering a spark for some new vision, too).

Many churches are struggling right now, but I believe we have been offered fertile ground for experimentation.

Make an offer to your dad. Suggest that you’d like to be a committee of one. Maybe call it the Committee of Holy Exploration and then take some time to try some new spiritual practices.

I highly recommend Barbara Brown Taylor’s book, “An Altar in the World: A Geography of Faith” (2010, HarperOne), which has some wonderful and off-the-beaten-path ways to experience God in the world. (I especially recommend the chapter on the practice of saying no.)

Taking this time away might nourish your own faith life as you collect some new seeds to help your church experience growth again.

Will this bend or break your dad’s heart? Possibly. But my hope is that this time of retreat might be a time of personal renewal and when your dad sees that your heart is revitalized, his own will mend, too.”

Dear Amy: It recently occurred to me that my husband will never retire.

He is a wonderful guy who absolutely loves what he does (he owns his own business). Honestly, I thought we would be spending our twilight years together, but as I near my own planned retirement, I see more and more that he will likely NOT stop working.

Do you have any ideas for me?

— Plans Awry

Dear Awry: There are many stages of work between full-on employment and total retirement. Is your husband willing to take longer breaks in order to travel or pursue other interests along with you?

It is vital — for so many reasons — that anyone who owns his own business develop an exit plan. Will he leave his business to a family member, or sell it outright?

If he starts to plan for his company’s longer-term future, part of that plan would be to start a gradual and (hopefully orderly) transition, which should free up some time.

Also, please don’t wait around for him! Develop your own interests, friendships, and hobbies. Sign up for classes, guided trips, and volunteer opportunities.

Dear Amy: Now that Thanksgiving is coming up, leftovers are my pet peeve!

Isn’t it enough that people get invited to a feast in someone’s home, and yet they STILL expect to be given enough food for the next day — and perhaps the day after?

Be grateful!

— Grateful

Dear Grateful: In some families, sending people home with leftovers is very much expected.

I’m with you.

(You can email Amy Dickinson at askamy@amydickinson.com or send a letter to Ask Amy, P.O. Box 194, Freeville, NY 13068. You can also follow her on Twitter @askingamy or Facebook.)

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