A Love Letter for Pastor-Moms

Kelly Ladd Bishop

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pastor moms

Sometimes God speaks to me.

That might sound crazy to some people, but it’s true. It doesn’t happen all the time, but it happens. It isn’t necessarily audible, and it’s hard to describe, but it always leaves a deep impression on my soul. Today was the first time God spoke to me through a John Legend song. I’ll admit, even I think that’s a little weird. But who am I to question God’s ways of communicating? (and sense of humor?)

As both a woman in ministry, and a mom, I often feel like I live in tension.

I’m sure all working moms feel this tension. There’s a constant pull between pastor-me, and mom-me. I have moments where I feel like I’m not using my gifts to the fullest, like I’m not living up to my calling, like I’m not doing all that I could be doing. I look at others, and I feel that twinge of jealousy. How are they doing it? What choices have they made? What is different in their lives? Self-doubt starts to creep in, and I begin to feel inadequate.

So I was having one of these moments recently. I stay home with my young kids, and I also work in ministry. I had a busy week full of ministry meetings and kids’ activities, and while driving to Target to pick up milk and trash bags, I began to let that doubt grow in me. The tension was back. It felt impossible.

How can I be called to stay home with my kids, and to pastor?

Will I ever move into a different ministry role? Will I get back to the parts of ministry I love, but have had to set aside? Why don’t my colleagues seem to have the same struggle? Why don’t men in ministry face these choices and challenges? I was feeling defeated when… John Legend came on the radio.

The words I heard were:

“All of me

Loves all of you.”

And it was one of those moments. God spoke to me. I felt it. I knew it. I felt God reminding me that he loves me with a fullness that’s deeper and greater than I can understand. And not only does God love me with all of himself, but he loves all of me. Every part of me.

God loves pastor-me, and God loves mom-me.

And one isn’t more important than the other, they are both me, and both my calling. The tension washed away. In that moment, I just felt loved.

Then I heard these words:

“I give you all of me,

And you give me all of you.”

And I thought of Christ on the cross. I thought of what God gave for me. God gave me all of himself, poured out to death, holding nothing back. And in return he asks for all of me, mom-me, pastor-me, all of me.

The song is a love song between a man and a woman. The lyrics are not about God’s love. But those lines kept repeating…

“All of me

Loves all of you.

I give you all of me

And you give me all of you.”

Women in ministry face many unique challenges.

Moms in ministry (and all moms!) face unique challenges. And it’s easy to let those challenges overtake us. It’s easy to believe the voices that tell us we can’t do it. It’s easy to feel inadequate, like we’re not enough. Sometimes we are pulled in too many directions. Sometimes we are so many things to so many people, that we lose sight of who we are to God.

So, I’m writing this love letter specifically to you, moms in ministry; pastor-moms.

You are loved. Whether you are able to serve full-time, part-time, or you are volunteering, when you feel pulled between baseball practice, dance lessons, grocery shopping, sermon writing, pastoral care, lesson planning, and diaper changing, know that all of you is loved by God, every part of you – the part that has three loads of laundry to fold, and the part that loves to get lost in Greek texts. You are called to all of those things, and loved in all of those things.

God calls us through seasons. In some seasons we’ll be all-in in one area or another.

In other seasons, we’ll be called in more than one direction. But we give it all to God. We give our midnight baby feedings, and our sermon writing. We give our parent-teacher conferences, and our Sunday school lessons. We give God our trips to Target for garbage bags, and our meetings with the church elders. And even when it feels like all we’re offering is a few small fish, God takes all of it, and turns it into a beautiful feast. He sets a banquet before us, and invites us to eat, to be refreshed, and to rest in the fullness of his love.

Next season will be different. Kids get older. Schedules change. Jobs change. God calls us into new endeavors, new adventures, new challenges. But wherever you are right now, know that every piece of you belongs to God.

All of you is loved.

So I pray for you, pastor-moms. I pray for pastor-you, teacher-you, mom-you, leader-you, wife-you, all of the yous that are you. I pray that you know how loved you are in every hat you wear, in every role you fill. God gave all for you, for every part of you. And God has called you, and equipped you.

Thanks be to God.

(And John Legend I guess…)

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More on parenting and pastoring:

A Day in the Life of a Female Pastor

How to Raise a Little Girl Today to be a Pastor Tomorrow

 

 

 

 

 

 

Kelly Ladd Bishop

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10 Comments

  • Thank you so much for these beautiful words and reminders. As a Pastor, a mom, a wife, a daughter and soon to be grandma I feel that tension so often, sometimes hourly. Basketball game or sermon prep, date night or church meeting prep, a book to myself or more study, a day to recharge alone or a day away with my husband. Add all this to the fact I am bi-vocational and work 40 hours a week on top of Ministry the tension can get overwhelming at times. Always wondering if I chose the right thing this time, not wanting to disappoint God or my son or my husband. These words, loving all of me mean so very much Thank you!!

  • This brought tears to my eyes as I felt like God was speaking to me through this post. I guess you are my John Legend! Thanks for sharing.

  • You’re right Kelly when you write that these tensions are familiar for women with children – finding contentment and peace as a woman in our western culture which emphasises an individual’s identity as being ‘what we do’ ((aka often what we earn) and devalues parenting/mothering ( commercial advertisements teach us a lot about our cultural values) are struggles more the norm than not. I too have found the seasons image a helpful one, indeed powerful and freeing. Also realising that we can’t ‘have it all all the time’ but need to focus for a time on one or two priorities is humbling and freeing – to be fully who we are in that space and time. I have known many rich seasons in my 60 years – professionally and personally – and identify the most exhausting and unhealthy periods of time as being those when I wouldn’t relinquish something and tried to be all things to all people.

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