I've been thinking a lot about the roles of men and women in a marriage lately. More precisely, since I got back from the "pastor's wives/credentialed women" retreat for our district. The title was a bit misleading, since there were not that many credentialed women there...mostly pastors' wives! Some highly involved pastors' wives - like my pastor's wife, for example [who co-pastors] - but quite a few who, when asked, didn't even consider themselves to be leaders.
The speaker, although she had some good things to say, was not exactly one of the best retreat or conference speakers I have ever heard. I am all for making my home a comfortable, peaceful place. This is something I strive to do. However, I believe that it is up to BOTH my husband and me to foster that kind of atmosphere. I can plan a family dinner at the table, but he needs to sit at said table and eat with me. Right now, eating EVERY meal together around the family table is physically impossible, since he works 2nd shift Friday - Monday. On the days when he's not going to be home for dinner, we try to do breakfast together so we have at least one meal..because I do feel like it's important to connect and not just grab our plates and go off to separate areas of the house to eat.
She talked about being there for your kids - not just rushing from a job to a zillion church activities. That's all well and good, but:
a.) We need two incomes right now, and I'm not talking about wanting a whole bunch of expensive stuff. We have nothing in our house that we went out picked out ourselves from the store and bought brand new - other than our bed and a bookshelf, which were made possible by a check from our insurance company when our apartment flooded - all this to say that we are catching up on old bills from a very difficult chapter in our lives, and just to cover that and our basic necessities, we need two paychecks; and
b.) We are called...plain and simple. I could make the excuse that "I'm a woman...I need to start a family and stay at home with them!" But I think God was fully aware of my gender when He called me. As a woman who is planning to start a family soon, I have wrestled with the question of "How on earth am I going to do this?" but honestly, I think we've got a pretty good set-up. One of Patrick's desires has always been to be able to be an active parent - not just a sperm donor who then goes off and works and never gets to spend time with his kids. With his job not starting until 2:00 pm, he will have the whole morning to spend with them...I'll have the evening...and there will be a few hours of time in the afternoon when we may need to find a cute little old lady or responsible teenager from church to take care of them (once they get older and start getting into stuff!)
From this retreat speaker, I got the impression that being a wife and/or mother means that it's all on me. That means that in addition to being a children's pastor and the primary person who keeps our house clean (as egalitarian as my husband claims to be, I've discovered that men just don't see dirt the same way women do, LOL!!), I get to be the full time parent to our kids as well. Now, if I was to be a stay-at-home mom and wife, I would embrace that role 100%. That would be MY job. But since I do work outside the home, as does my husband, we need to share some of those roles. To us, "division of labor" does not mean that there are certain jobs that are a man's domain and other jobs that are a woman's domain. It simply means that the best person for the job is the one who does it. Most of the cleaning is done by me. My husband cooks when we have company, because he enjoys doing big, elaborate meals. Trash is taken out by whoever first notices that it's full. He takes care of our finances because dealing with numbers gives me a headache and makes me cry. Oil changes are done by Valvoline :o).
When I listened to this speaker, I got the sense that she would feel that I was stepping outside of my God-given role. She said a couple of times that "it's a 'trend' in the A/G right now for women to get credentialed." I thought she should have done her homework, since the A/G has been credentialing women from the start. She also said that if a pastor's wife is co-pastoring with her husband, the church is out of order, and the wife needs to step down and give the authority back to her husband where it belongs. This didn't sit too well with our pastor's wife, who does, in fact, co-pastor with her husband! Our church is most definitely not "out of order." It is, in fact, the most functional church I have ever been a part of!
I used my "brain filter" to try and glean some useful information from the retreat, and I'm not saying it was a total waste. But instead of feeling uplifted and refreshed upon leaving, I felt frustrated and discouraged. Like I wasn't "doing it right."
It says a lot about this district and how they feel about women in ministry for them to even bring in a speaker of this nature...and I found myself once again missing my old district - with one of the highest percentages of female pastors, whose leadership would never dream of bringing in someone like that to speak to their credentialed women. All I can say is thank goodness they're NOT doing this retreat next year (they only do it every other year, I guess!), which will leave me free to go to the "Unstoppable" Conference in Tampa!!!