This is the final week of Emma’s maternity leave. She will head back to work next Monday, which is very exciting! I can’t wait for her to get to spend time back in the world of adults, where there is life beyond diapers and lullabies.
That also means that my paternity leave begins on Monday. The United Methodist Church is one of a few (but growing number) of organizations which offer paid leave, not just for mothers, but also for fathers. I am incredibly thankful for this, because I now get to spend a few weeks with our son, helping him to grow and learn to laugh.
This particular leave will also double as “time to pack up everything we own” leave. Getting ready for a move is stressful enough, and I have no doubt that a 6 week old baby will bring new complications to the mix! And so I am thankful for the timing of this leave.
I am especially thankful for this paternity leave, because it tells me that this United Methodist Church that I love so much, cares for me as well. We live in a world of high career expectations and a constant drive for success. This is also true in the church. We love doing ministry so much, that it can be easy to neglect family, friends and other areas of life for the sake of our work in the church. Which is why I am thankful for this provision. Offering paid paternity leave tells me that the Church wants me to remember to love my family, to have balance.
I read a book several years ago, written by the daughter of two pastor parents. People would often ask her why she went into ministry herself, knowing that stereotypically, pastors kids often run far from the church, and how much worse having pastors for both parents! I will never forget her response. She said, my parents never chose the church over our family. Of course there were times when they had to miss a family event for a funeral or something, but because they made it clear that they didn’t love the church more than they loved me, I was never jealous of the church or grew to despise it, like many pastor’s kids do.
We are called to follow Christ with all of our heart, mind, body and soul. But that doesn’t mean we sacrifice our family in the process. Christ calls us into community in all places, and that often begins with our families at home.
I will be preaching at both services this Sunday, as Frank will be out of town officiating a wedding. Then I will be on leave for a few weeks. You’ll still see me around at a few things, but I am so thankful for this chance to rest, prepare and just be with my son.
Love is patient and kind, but it requires time from us. Don’t forget to make time for your family and loved ones.
Have a wonderful week my friends,