Thursday, September 26, 2013

Family Matters

Steve Urkel (as played by Jaleel White) from the TV series "Family Matters"

A clergy job change can be a strain on the family members of a clergy person, even in the best-case scenario. If the Pastor in question is quietly searching for a new job, the children in the family might be asked to keep that a secret. That can be tough, as the children of Pastors often have friends within the congregation. If a clergy person quits a job before finding a new one, financial woes can materialize. A new job often requires relocation, and all the disruption involved in that.  And even if a job search results in a much-wanted new position that doesn't require the family to move or the clergy spouse to change jobs and the kids to change schools, getting used to one of the adult family members being in a new Pastoral position is disruptive to family life.  These factors also apply to career changes in other fields as well, but clergy folk are often described as living "in a fishbowl" for good reason. Sometimes they even live in a house owned by the church. Any job change is bound to result in stresses and strains in a family--there are nearly always some raised voices and acting out by kids involved--but if you work at GE, your employer doesn't bear witness to it very often.

As a clergy woman married to a non-clergy man, I've found it best not to pretend to the congregation that things are perfect in my marriage and family life, and not to pressure my husband and kids to act a certain way. On the other hand, I've also learned not to involve the congregation too much in family business. If the whole job search process or the acceptance of a new job is putting a strain on you as a Pastor, it is important to find some place other than through the people who employ you at your Pastoral job to help you sort through your problems. On the one hand, they are likely to outwardly offer sympathy, but on the other hand, they may start questioning your leadership abilities, e.g., "The Pastor can't even handle his own kids. How can we expect him to take handle conflict within the congregation?"
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