This is part of a series on clergy couples and their stories. Andy and I wrote a book about being a clergy couple and all the insanity that goes along with it called Yoked: Stories of a Clergy Couple in Marriage, Family, and Ministry.
We sit at the dining room table, our dinner plates in front of us. We share our highs and our lows – the beginning of a family devotion time. His high is about a cool new coffee gadget that the local coffee shop owner shared with him that afternoon. His low is about the Sunday School program he’s working on that just isn’t getting off the ground. Instead of listening without judgment (like I’m supposed to be doing) I offer up some advice.
Have you tried X?
Did you see this article?
Have you checked out that Facebook page?
You should read this new book.
And suddenly we’re both back in work mode, strategizing, brain storming, discussing the big picture and future of the church and youth and family ministry. The conversation is lively and energizing, full of both hope and lament. But after it’s over, as the dishes are cleared away, the kitchen sink is filling with soapy water, and the baby is whining to get out of her high chair, I realize that while we connected as colleagues, we forgot to connect as husband and wife.
That was the whole point of doing these family devotions. We wanted to get in the habit of connecting as husband and wife, as parents and child, so that our pastor’s kid grows up hearing not only about theology and ministry concepts, but also about the actual faith of her parents.
Why is this so hard?
On one hand, it is wonderful to be able to lament and complain and talk shop with my husband, someone who “gets it” in a way that other friends and family do not. On the other hand, it’s that shop talk that fools us into thinking we’ve connected with one another as something other than colleagues. I know that when my husband shares his work related low, all he wants to hear is that I’m in his corner, that I think he’s great, no matter how that event succeeded or failed. We both want a home where our vocations as spouse and parent are the focus instead of our roles as pastors.
So what do we do?
Maybe it’s as simple as continuing to practice those family devotions. Sharing our highs and lows (including listening without judgment), reading scripture together, praying about our highs and lows, and blessing one another. Living our faith just as much privately as we do publicly.
Megan Koepnick Clapp is Pastor of Faith Lutheran Church in Andover, Iowa. She is passionate about helping God’s people grow in faith that is connected to every part of life, not just the Sunday morning routine. Megan is married to a pastor and they are constantly dreaming and scheming together about the future of ministry and the church. Megan is a graduate of Luther Seminary (ELCA) and along with her M.Div, received a degree in Children, Youth, and Family ministry.