For most of the time we have been married I have been the person involved primarily in ministry in one form or another, but lately I have been observing that the roles have been changing and now Danelle seems to be the primary ‘minister’ (or insert whatever word you prefer)
Up until 2002 we were based in a local church and I was a pastor. I was theologically trained and in a system that preferred men as leaders (although the church I was in saw women as equals) so inevitably I was the one who would earn $$$ from it and spend the bulk of my life in it.
However the last 4 1/2 years have been quite different and I feel myself slowly sliding out of the ‘primary minister’ role and watching Danelle slide more naturally into it. We have moved from a medium sized church setting with all the bells and whistles to a missionary team setting with no sign of bells and whistles and I have much less to do. In a more programmatic environment with staff and volunteers to oversee, more admin and a regular preaching role I had stuff that I could do, but in a local community where ministry is relationship based, relaxed and often chaotic there is much less control over the environment and much less to organise or lead.
In fact very little at all…
Then there is the question of where the line is between ministry and friendship (buggered if I know or care these days) and a person who had found his identity in ‘pastoring’ could easily feel quite at sea. I know I have felt that way plenty of times as I have tried to figure out who I am in this new place.
We are currently in an environment that is perfectly suited to Danelle’s temperament and make up, but less so suited to mine. Danelle loves just hanging out with people and I like accomplishing something. Not that those two are as mutually exclusive as I just made them sound, but our lives here have been much more so suited to her talents.
So lately I have been reflecting on whether its my time to support her in the things she does and to free her up to do more of what she does well.
Truth be told I think we have slipped into that mode at present and this is a less of a question and more an observation.
As I listened to Wayne Carey share his post-football identity crisis I felt a little bit of resonance. There is a sense in which my identity has been tied up in the professional minister role for nearly 20 years and to feel that drifting away evokes an uncertain response. Part of me wants to re-claim it in some way and part of me feels that maybe there is stuff to be learnt in a space that I won’t get hold of if I hang on tight.
So its an interesting place to be in.
A little disturbing, a little disorienting also, but at the same time a sense of adventure as I walk down a path that is continually shifting and re-forming. I’m not sure where it will lead, but I am aware of the shift occurring. I actually don’t feel any less a sense of vocation or calling but the way that is being expressed at this point in my life is quite different…
Anyway that’s FWIW, as I imagine others may have had similar shifts.