25 September 2020 |
Dear Aunt Sevvy,
The pastor’s wife has always managed the organizational schedule for the lower division Sabbath Schools, organized potlucks, and accompanied her husband to church events. Lately she has fallen down on her responsibilities, and it has caused our Sabbath School schedule to fall completely into disarray. Last week nobody showed up to teach the Primary division! When I confronted her, she said she is stressed out about trying to manage her kids’ distance learning and working full time, so she isn’t keeping up with her church duties anymore. I understand that she has even stopped accompanying her husband to church events lately! How can I make her see that her first responsibility is to support her husband’s ministry?
Signed, Disappointed in This Woman
Aunty is disappointed, too—not in your pastor’s wife, but in you. You sound unkind and unsympathetic.
A pastor’s wife’s first responsibility is to her family and herself. Many parents are at their wits’ end about all the difficulties brought on by COVID-19, including children at home doing distance learning. It is incredibly taxing on everyone! And if, as you mentioned, your pastor’s wife already works full time, is it surprising that she feels overburdened?
Unless she is getting paid to work for the church, the expectations for her should be the same as any other regular church member: she can volunteer her time as much or as little as she wants. And right now, with children at home and extra burdens for their education, she deserves some space.
Step back for a moment from what you think your pastor’s wife should do. What about your duty to support her and her family? Pastors have one of the highest rates of burnout of any profession in the United States. Even if your pastor’s wife weren’t working and didn’t have children to raise and educate at home, being in a pastor’s family is a difficult job. It’s filled with unreasonable expectations, such as those you just expressed. Instead of complaining about her, could you volunteer to take over organizing the Sabbath School classes? Have you expressed your gratefulness for all she has contributed to the church in the past? Have you prayed for her mental health as she steps back a little to manage her own life—rather than scolding her for not meeting your expectations? Perhaps you could bring her some fresh baked bread, some ice cream, or a basket of things to take care of herself, such as bubble bath or nail polish or a gift card to a spa?
When someone who has always been willing to help tells you that they are stressed out and unable to help, do you think they’re lying? Show some grace! She has certainly proven she deserves some.
You can write to Aunt Sevvy at DearAuntSevvy@gmail.com. Please keep questions or comments short. What you send us at this address won’t necessarily be, but could be, published—always without real names. Aunt Sevvy writes her own column, and her opinions are not necessarily those of Adventist Today’s editors.