Thursday, November 30, 2017

Contrasting Clergy Privilege -- then and now

Good morning friends! It'll be time to hit the road in a couple minutes. It's 5:37 AM right now and my alarm will go off at 5:42, telling me to stop doing other things and get my jacket on so I can make it to work on time.

Oftentimes I think about how much our life has changed in the last 10 years. Beginning when Toni and I moved to Ladysmith, Wisconsin in 1984, I was supported as a member of the clergy. Toni and I moved from St. Paul, where I'd been a seminary student, to the place where I'd serve as associate pastor of an established church. Most of our married life, and all the years during the time Toni and I were raising our children, we were privileged and well supported. Now things are different.

I wrote the item below as I was thinking about how different my younger son's life is. It's kind of a mish mash because I didn't go back and edit it.

Jon is also serving as a pastor, but the church is very small. He's needing to have a second job and even so he and Breanna are barely "making it" financially. They trust God and they are fine, but it does make me consider how privileged I have been. My older son, Dan, is at a more established church. He, I think, shares in a bit of the privilege that I enjoyed in years past.

OK... my alarm went of 2 minutes ago. Got to run.

Written on Saturday, November 18

Toni and I are out in Cokato tonight, at our younger son's home, caring for our granddaughters while Jon and Breanna are at a wedding celebration. Another of their high school friends was married tonight. I imagine it'll be late before they get back. (It's 9:30 now.)

I'm glad they can have the night out. I can't imagine how exhausting it must be to do everything they need to, with the church they're leading, their three daughters (a 3 year old and year-and-a-half old twins), and doing everything with far less financial support than Toni and I had when we were in a similar position. At least they have Breanna's parents in town here. What a blessing they are!

When our children were small we lived in Ladysmith, Wisconsin. I was associate pastor of an established church, and, as Breanna and Jon do, we did a lot together with high school age young people. Jon & Breanna's work is more challenging though, because they don't have a lot of parents who are eager to have their middle and high school age children involved in youth activities. They're starting from scratch, in many ways, though they do have a great core of spiritually mature adults who are standing with them. There are so many reasons to give thanks!

Last night (Friday, November 19) our older son, Dan, and his wife Shatera, were at our place in Roseville making lefse with Toni. They were well on their way with the project when I got home from work. Dan & Shatera are involved in church work also, and one of the things we talked about with them is the possibility that they may have an opportunity to rent a large home (with another couple) for a reduced rate starting sometime next year, thanks to the generosity of people from Dan's church. They're expecting their first child in January, so obviously that's a great thing considering that they're now living in a one bedroom apartment.

Now that I'm working a "regular job" I'm more and more aware of how our ability to do what God calls us to do, even our ability to come out here (to Cokato) today to be with our grandkids, depends on having a regular, steady and "fair" income.

Last night Dan and Shatera and Toni and I were talking a bit about my work, and, specifically about my work schedule. Shatera asked what I would have done if I had started working as a bus driver when our kids were small. At that point I would have needed to be working full time. Hours are so crazy when a person starts. I know it's hard for bus operators who are parents today. I'm sure it would have been for me back then too. I told Shatera that I'd probably have looked for other work back then, even if it paid somewhat less money.

Though that's true, it's hard for me to even think about or imagine, that is, that I would have had to think about work and income differently. I've been privileged. As I said, I was a part of an established church, called to serve there, though that wasn't my plan. We were well taken care of. Somehow, though, it was God's.


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