I prepared this blog posting several months ago but, apparently, forgot to hit the publish button. It is Part 2 of what I hope will become a series.
One of the things that I find alarming is the way in which those in our community view clergy spouses (and clergy, you have to verify this one way or another, but I assume you get treated the same way).
People seem to think we have no life other than the church. Maybe, in supporting my wife, it seems that all I do is church ministry. Well, there is a lot of that
Maybe I’m a guarded individual and seem unapproachable to others. Trust me folks, I can be likeable.
I remember the first time I noticed how my life as a clergy spouse had made me “different.” While overseeing tornado recovery volunteers is Granbury, TX for a two month period, I was only working in the next county to the south. One Saturday afternoon, I walked into a local hamburger shop for lunch. As I walked in, a few members of our church were there enjoying lunch and a few cocktails. You know, those margarita-things with the beer bottle turned upside down in them. I might know the name of the drink if the congregation didn’t assume I was part of the temperance movement! I still remember the looks of the faces of those congregants;. No judgment here folks, I promise.
Being a male, clergy spouse has an entirely different issue. I don’t get invited to clergy spouse events (are there such things?). If so, is they operated in such a way as to be gender-exclusive? This is an area that I have experience in breaking down walls. Once upon a time, many years ago, I was a legal secretary for a 4-woman law firm. Nobody from the Lubbock Legal Secretaries Association ever invited me to join that group either.
Not that I don’t bring some of this on myself. In the years that I’ve been in Weatherford, I’ve been an active Board member to the General Commission on Religion and Race. I also now serve on the Coordinating Council for Churches Uniting In Christ as the Chair of the Racial and Social Justice Task Force as the Chair of the Task Force. I do work out of the house as a trial consultant. And I’m sure you’ve seen me around the church in some form or fashion. Where you might not see me is having a cold-beer at Chili’s on a hot day, not because I’m a teetotaler, but I’ve seen how some have reacted when I saw them enjoying a cocktail. Quite frankly, I’m afraid of the reaction of those that might see me enjoying a glass of wine or a pint.
Another thing; my politics are separate from my faith. I can assure you that I put my faith first. That doesn’t mean I won’t enter into an engaging conversation with you on a wide variety of social issues. And, in that regard, I might not agree with my spouse on these issues. You see, I am an individual that made a covenant to my spouse. I made a covenant to the “Church” through my baptism and to the “church” through my membership. I didn’t enter the Candidacy process, my wife did. I don’t answer to the District Superintendent, the Board of Ordained Ministry or the Cabinet for MY theological statements. According to the Book of Discipline, the Pastor has the role of assuring that, should I be teaching, I teach sound Wesleyan (and United Methodist) theology.
But the most important thing to glean from this posting is that I am just like you in many ways. I love my church and I love my denomination, all the while arguing and fighting with them as is they were family. And that is because they are. I feel celebrate with you when your are joyful, I shed a tear when you are grieving, I feel pain when we are not committed to our Covenant or we speak hatefully toward others. I grow angry when we are not true to the Great Commission. I am fiercely defensive of my wife and children.
You know, I am human.