Ministry, Mothering

See-Saw, Margery Daw

See Saw Margery Daw
Johnny shall have a new master
He shall earn but a penny a day
Because he can’t work any faster

I was never one of those coordinated children who could walk easily across a balance beam or a wall. My dad, also not wildly graceful, famously fell off a fence when he was 12 and missed most of a year of school. I remember being fascinated with the shiny, scarred skin on his shin.

I’m four weeks into my new job, and I have identified some areas in which I need to approach work differently in my new setting, and also recognized some things that require recalibration at home. Just recognizing them, of course, means almost nothing. I need to put them into practice.

Today I’m starting on one of them, taking time for writing and thinking and working toward my sermon on Tuesday. Tuesday has been my usual day to start mulling. I have breakfast every Tuesday with my Preacher Group, and we talk about the texts for the coming Sunday. But I have considered that to be seed-planting, and most weeks the writing, the anecdote collecting, the research have come later. Many, many weeks I say, "I will write on Thursday afternoon." What that often means is that the events of the week intrude on my writing time, and I end up writing on Saturday.

Friends, I’m tired of writing on Saturday. I want to clear some space for family time and for staring at the ceiling and even, dare I say it, homemaking time. I am good about observing Friday as my Sabbath, plugging in some self-care activity or social interaction. But Saturday gets sucked up by the sermon in a way that no longer feels helpful. I know full well that I will still spend time on Saturday refining my sermon and preparing in other ways for Sunday. But I want to get an earlier start in the week. And Tuesday is the key.

Part of the pressure comes from the transitions at the end of the day, from minister back to mother. Our life at Small Church felt more fluid. I was mother and minister all at the same time, and most of the time that was fine. At Main Street Church I am ministering differently, learning the needs of the new setting, and I feel great about it. But at the same time I am mothering a middle-school girl and trying to comprehend her needs, and that is not going quite so smoothly. I need to be available and receptive, not rushing in to solve her problems with my God-sent creativity. (I’m making fun of myself a bit here, but I hope you get the point.)

The seesaw goes up, and it comes down, and sometimes instead of sitting on the end we need to straddle the middle and keep the balance by ourselves.

7 thoughts on “See-Saw, Margery Daw”

  1. Your post makes so much sense. It’s always something — we can never “catch up” with work and church and family and, well… LIFE. Wear your shin guards!

  2. It’s always a balancing act, isn’t it! I find even on my day off (whatever that might be) I’m still thinking and answering the phone and emailing . . .
    But I’m with you. I spent – literally – all last Saturday writing my sermon. Took hours. I felt like the family just sat in the living room waiting for me to find time for them.
    Good luck on your schedule-balancing quest – I believe you can do it!!

  3. This has been weighing on me, too. I love the Saturday Preacher’s Party, but I’d rather just be the comic relief or cheerleader than an active participant.
    Besides, where is it written that pastor’s cannot have two days off in the same week?

  4. If I could just be polishing/reviewing or revising on Saturday, that I would not mind. I definitely like to feel the material is fresh. But instead of a sentence and a one-word reminder of an anecdote or illustration, if I can get more on the page early in the week, there’s a better chance of having it all together by Thursday afternoon and then being able to “rest” it.

  5. I think family sabbath days are SO important they should be mandatory.
    At the willow creek Global summit conference (sic) I really learnt something important – don’t be in the church (or doing church things as a pastor) praying for God to bless and protect your family – put in your hours for your job and work hard but not at the expense of your family.
    They are your inheritance from God!
    How to do this week in week out in practice means re-thinking a lot – and reading this post has encouraged me no end!

Leave a Reply