I am both a Worship Pastor’s wife and a Preschool Director.
But long before I was a Preschool Director for our church, I was a Worship Pastor’s wife.
My husband would come home with stories of celebration. Sometimes he would come home telling me of something new and exciting he was working on. Some days he would come home and tell me the hard stuff he and/or the church was going though. But no matter what may be going on in his ministry, I always felt like he was always able to come home, set work aside and be fully present and engaged with us.
When God called me to serving our preschoolers and their families at our church, I imagined how incredible it would be for us both to be able to do what we love and are passionate about at the same place. And it is.
But, what no one told me was how hard it would be to disconnect from it.
No one told me how about tempted I would be to work around the clock to go the extra mile for an event.
No one told me about how my brain would drift to a new idea we should try on Sunday mornings while I was with my kids.
No one told me I would replay the stinging words of a volunteer over and over in my head.
No one told me a church staff doesn’t always get along.
No one told me I would sit up at night thinking about how I succeeded for my church but failed my family today.
No one told me how often I would ask the question, “Why God would you ever choose to use me with all of my own sin and mess?”
Let’s be honest. If you are in ministry, you can never truly “leave the job” at quitting time. And truthfully, when it’s your ministry, your heart, your people, your passion… how hard is it to not talk about it? How hard is it to leave it at the door? Our bottom lines are people’s lives.
Over the years, my husband and I have strived to create boundaries between ministry and our home. Some days we get it right. Some days we fail miserably. One thing we have learned over the years is when we start to see some of these guiding principles getting out of bounds, we have to take a step back and figure out how to get it all back on track.
Get it said.
During a complicated pregnancy, my husband and I began to see a high risk pregnancy OB. In a conversation, he told us his wife was a neonatal surgeon. We asked if he had any wisdom he gained from the years of both him and his wife working in a high stress environment. How did they deal with the hard days?
In his response, he gave us this little gem my husband and I use today. They have a rule – they are allowed 30 minutes when they get home to talk about their day at work with each other. They can cry, get angry, celebrate and spill all the raw details of their day, but when the 30 minutes are up, there is no more talk about work. This doctor said if they didn’t set parameters for talking about work, work would emotionally consume their marriage and their home.
My husband and I took their principle and applied it to our lives. When we walk through the door, we give ourselves 30 minutes to get it out of our system. Sometimes we laugh, sometimes we cry, and sometimes we are frustrated. Then, we move on, and we focus on our family.
Turn it off.
My husband and I attempt to turn our phones off from 6-8 at night. When we do, it ensures our mealtime with our kids doesn’t get interrupted. It means we all get each other’s undivided attention for those 2 hours. You can always tell when someone’s not fully paying attention to you. When you get the obligatory “uh-huhs” and the glazed over eyes, it makes you feel insignificant. My kids and my husband are no exception to this when I have my phone out. I don’t want to miss what my kid’s are saying for a “friend’s” status update. I don’t want to miss out on what’s going on in my husband’s life to answer an email that could honestly wait until tomorrow. I want to be emotionally engaged where I’m physically present.
I’m a huge believer in family vacations. We unapologetically make it a priority with our time and budget. Whether it’s relaxing on the beach or hanging with The Mouse at Disney, we want our children to see us unplugging from ministry and being totally present with them. I make planning vacations a priority, and I guard our time when we are on vacation. My family feels valued when they know I value my time with them.
“It has been said before. It is worth saying again. Nobody gets to the end of his life and wishes he had spent more time at the office. You won’t be the first.” – Andy Stanley
What are some boundaries or guidelines you have set to be fully present at home?
Kelly Stockdale is a Memphis native that attended Houston High School and University of Memphis. She started her career as an Investment Broker before she married her husband, Jason, in 2004. After starting their family, God began to tug on her heart about working with preschoolers. She taught preschool for several years in Dallas and has always volunteered in some capacity with preschoolers in the local church. After volunteering for some time at The Orchard, God called Kelly to work as the Preschool Director at The Orchard. Jason and Kelly have 3 girls and finally a boy!
You can read more of Kelly’s writings on her website: http://www.kellystockdale.com/