PMS::when people ask you to take a church job

>> September 10, 2009

About a year into my life as a PW, an elderly PW gave me some sage advice:

"Any time you move to a new church district, never take any kind of job or role or responsibility for the first 6 months."
At the time I kind of thought she was being too dramatic. Why wait so long? What's the big deal? I like to be involved at church! Shouldn't I be active right away?

Time proved her right. Taking a few months off in a new place gives the PW time to adjust, get fully settled into a new house, learn her way around town and just get into her groove without any pressure.

Also it gives the PW a little time to just get to know the people. No fuss, no accidentally accepting the job that Mrs. So-and-So has been trying to get for the past eighteen months. Just the freedom to get acquainted, make friends, and observe.

It gives you a chance to find out where the real needs are - not just the imaginary ones. That way you can accept the roles where you are gifted and passionate, instead of getting stuck in something that you don't like or can't do and feeling trapped.

So what do you do when people ask you to take a church job? What are your criteria for accepting or saying "no, thanks"? What are your boundaries?

5 comments:

Teri Lynne September 10, 2009 at 3:43 PM  

I've always been the "jump right in" kinda PW but I think now as my daughter is getting older and as my own writing ministry is growing, when we go to our next church I will be the one who doesn't accept any sort of responsibility for awhile. We've been at our church 9 years and I have finally relinquished the last "job" I accepted during the first 9 months!! :)

Libby,  September 11, 2009 at 10:10 AM  

Thanks for the article, Sarah. I am looking forward to reading the responses. This just happens to be extremely relevant to me at the moment! Sometimes you can feel like you are saying 'no' at the expense of appearing as the unsupportive, inactive PW. :) With a busy church and church school, there is literally something to participate in at every turn! We've been so busy as a pastoral family, that we've been here a month and still aren't unpacked. Whoa! gotta stop that in it's tracks!

Christina September 14, 2009 at 11:18 PM  

This is exactly what I am going through. I am a stay at home mom with 2 little girls and my husband is in the ministry. I have been asked to take a position that I know I am capable of and honestly it sounds attractive and after 4 years of being at home with my kids it sounds nice but I know it would be too much for my family right now. I wasn't looking for something but feel obligated to help because they think I am "available" but a stay at home mom isn't necessarily available.

vmchechile September 15, 2009 at 5:09 PM  

I was fortunate in that I had a great excuse. I was 8 months pregnant when my PH started as a full time pastor for the first time. I told everyone I wouldn't commit to ANYTHING until at least 3 months after I had our son. I took my time thinking about what I might like to do. I did take one position on one committee this spring (my son was 8 months old). My thinking is that I can always do more, but once you've committed yourself to several things, it's hard to stop. It may be very different if your kids are grown and you know what to expect and what you can handle. This is our first child and we want to have more. Newborns and young children through a lot of variables into the mix.

Pattie September 22, 2009 at 2:54 PM  

Wise advice I wish I'd listened to when my husband was in the pastorate! Now that we're a military family and worship in the Protestant chapel, I only do what I really love: sing. I do sometimes fill in on piano when necessary, and when my husband asks nicely ;)

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