Dear Pastor,

When I wrote you a few weeks ago, I thought it was a one-off. I had something to say, I said it, moving on. But, who are we kidding =)? I’ve never lacked for opinions — again, why you love me (mostly!).

Let’s picture that it is before noon when I stop by this time, so instead of diet coke I have hot tea in a mug I bought in Scotland. There is a sheep on it and words on the inside rim remind me as I sip “Ewe are not the boss,” good for more than a chuckle.

It’s been a couple of weeks since my last letter and I thought it would be good to share with you things I learned from the comments left. I don’t want us to move on too quickly and miss this chance.

{“Not likely with you in my flock,” you say under your breath.

“I’m sorry, I missed that.”

“Never mind.” You smile at me and we both know I heard you. I smile back, take a sip and launch into what’s been bouncing around in my head, heart, and soul.}

The letter is still being read and as of today has been read by 57,764 people. Even now, it’s still getting more than 100 hits a day. I know. Clearly something is going on. Here are six broad categories from the comments left:

1.  You are a good shepherd! Repeatedly comments from pastors shared how much they genuinely care for their people. You often get a bad rap based on the poor behavior of a few. Thanks for loving and serving us.

2. The people have voted on standing: please don’t. Most mom’s and non-moms resonated with the awkwardness of it.

3. Often Mother’s Day praises women and Father’s Day slams men. Have some dads been dead beats? Sure. But most likely the men in your flock are not in that camp. If fathers need to be challenged, fine. But find another day to do it.

4. Question: Which holiday was Mother’s Day compared to more than any other? Answer: Veteran’s Day. Surprised? I was. But I think the MD/VD comparison comes because both speak to sacrifice, lack of appreciations, a band of brothers/sisters, and a commitment that no one is left behind.

5. I missed a few categories!

To those who have aborted children, we remember them and you on this day

To those who are single and long to be married and mothering your own children, we mourn that life has not turned out the way you longed for it to be

To those who step-parent, we walk with you on these complex paths

To those who envisioned lavishing love on grandchildren, yet that dream is not to be, we grieve with you

6. The biggest take away: people long to tell you these kind of things but aren’t sure how to share. It’s easier to comment on music, carpet, and coffee, giving you the impression that we don’t hold back our opinions and that these are the most important things going on in our lives. They are not.

I like these chats; they help us to move from the kiddie pool of community into scary deeper water where we can do more than splash around.

Warmly and still in your corner,

your sheep, Amy

p.s. What do you wish you could tell your pastor?

Leave A Comment

  1. djunction May 28, 2012 at 10:01 am - Reply

    well, i’m going to read that letter….

  2. Molly Braun May 28, 2012 at 11:46 am - Reply

    On the surface, it seems amazing that your Mom’s Day blog post resonated with so many. But after having many quiet conversations in the hallways, lobbies and bathrooms at church, it doesn’t surprise me at all. So many people walking around with such a variety of issues.

    I applaud you on your follow-up and that you express appreciation for our pastors.
    Too many trivial complaints our pastors and church workers must field. Because of this, I am extra hesitant when I have something heavy on my heart that I want to bring before leadership.

    We need to find a way of celebrating the individual. So many quiet ways people sacrifice. Most don’t do it for the recognition, but as we all know, it’s nice to be appreciated.

    This past Mom’s Day, the pastor of the church I attended focused on the miracle of the biological mom. Yes. It is a miracle. Ironically, I’m a mom who’s adopted. Adopted because it was our first choice. But I can’t imagine what the infertile moms were feeling if I was feeling a bit awkward. He had all females stand…because the younger gals would be moms someday.

    I was not a very happy camper walking out of church that day. Not only did I feel like half-a-mom for not bonding with my children through breast-feeding (thanks to the message in church and the cover of TIME magazine), but I felt pained for all the reasons that came out of your last blog post.

    Interesting you should mention Veteran’s Day. The church I attended for many years makes a huge deal on the Fourth of July to celebrate veterans.

    While it’s important to recognize their sacrifices, I think our celebrations and recognition of them or anyone (moms, dads, non-parents, vets, teachers, singles, etc…) needs to go beyond the “hip-hip-hooray” pat-on-the-backs. It’s learning to true love and pray and listen to them.

    Case in point: I have just experienced very close people in my life divorce after 21 yrs. of marriage. Twenty of those years both the husband and wife spent serving our country in the military. Simply having a day to celebrate veterans or anyone in church is not going to solve the day-to-day issues they face in their roles. There is a lot of crap that comes with the sacrifices of being in the military (and other lives). It takes more than making ourselves feel good for waving our flags and welcoming them home from the airport. It’s going to take something deeper as a community.

    We simply need to know Jesus. I don’t want to be entertained or impressed with programs or to experience a few hours of a feel good message. I want to be inspired and supported in knowing how to be Jesus to those around me.

    • Amy May 28, 2012 at 6:24 pm - Reply

      Oh Molly, you touched on many things and I’d love to sit down in person and have a long chat. The biggest thing you touched, my heart. There are many, many reasons I miss having you in my life. Thanks for giving us a good long drink of Molly. Amy

  3. Dr. John D. Abbott, Jr. May 28, 2012 at 9:04 pm - Reply

    Since I am a pastor the question that I would like to ask is; “What do you expect from your pastor?” Some expectations are very strange and usually involve very poor or no communication at all from the parishioner to the pastor. It’s like pastor’s are expected to be mind readers.

    • Amy May 28, 2012 at 9:47 pm - Reply

      This is a great question …for the very reason you point out, the problems with mind reading. We spend a lot of time when people move to China teasing out their expectaions (of the culture, folks back home, students, co-workers). The goal isn’t to lower our expectations so that they are so low none of us are disappointed, but to set them at a reasonable level. You’re right, sometimes parishners confuse the role of pastor and that of mindreader. Thanks for the thoughts.

      • LeAnne P May 29, 2012 at 6:25 pm - Reply

        Isn’t THAT the truth, Amy! How many times is the word “expectation” used in Beijing during the month of August? That whole talk has come up so many times over the last year because it’s so important.

        • Amy May 29, 2012 at 7:43 pm - Reply

          I think everyone got weary of me talking about them (wink!), but it was for a reason! They are everywhere!

      • LeAnne P May 29, 2012 at 9:34 pm - Reply

        I realized I wrote my comment as I was hurrying out the door. It ended up sounding like a “*sigh* When is she gonna stop talking about expectations?” which is not how it was meant. I’ve laughed over the year how how true and relevant it was. Keep talking about it! I expect you to! :)

        • Amy May 29, 2012 at 9:48 pm - Reply

          Ha :) … and I will! I didn’t take it as a “sigh,” but that’s because I know you. For those who don’t, now they think of highly of you as I do!

  4. Loren Pinilis May 28, 2012 at 9:17 pm - Reply

    A dear couple that we’re friends with is having some issues getting pregnant. I know it’s incredibly painful for them, so it makes sense that this resonates with so many people. 57,000 huh? Wow, that’s impressive.

    • Amy May 28, 2012 at 9:48 pm - Reply

      Thanks Loren. It’s been a very humbling experience!

  5. Cynthia May 28, 2012 at 9:34 pm - Reply

    What do I wish I could tell my pastor? Please listen to me and grant me the courtesy and respect that I do know a few things about the messy middle of life, particularly of my own life. When I start to tell my pastor about my life struggles and experience, she quickly chimes in with her experience and knowledge in that same area and in a sense, hijacking the conversation. Usually she tacks on a psychoanalytical or religious spin which doesn’t quite hit the mark of my experience. bleh. For God’s sake, just hear me, ask me clarifying questions, and honor the Silence-that-is-God-in-the-midst-of-us. Pastors are most pastoral when they aren’t tyring so hard to say the right thing and just simply listen, affirm, and accept.

    • Amy May 28, 2012 at 9:50 pm - Reply

      Cynthia, yes, yes, yes. To be heard is the one key gift a pastor can give. Love the way you put “and honor the Silence-that-is-God-in-the-midst-of-us.”

    • Miranda May 9, 2015 at 2:17 am - Reply

      I had that experience with a former pastor. I loved the man dearly. I still do. However, during premarital counseling we were speaking about previous sexual experience. My husband was a virgin. I was not…and not by choice. I hesitated when the question was turned to me. I always hesitate to speak of it. Not out of shame, but because it always taints the way people talk to me and act around me. I am not fragile. I was raped, yes, but I am not defined by the experience. Anyway, when I hesitated, my husband took my hand and spoke for me…telling him that I had been raped as a teen and again as an adult. Before I could say anything, and before my husband could finish his entire thought, he jumped in to tell me how it was not my fault. He hijacked the conversation and turned it into a message of redemption. I didn’t know what to say to him. I felt as if -I- was being judged for what had been done to me. I wish more pastors would respect that silence and LISTEN instead of trying to say the “right” thing.

  6. exegete77 May 29, 2012 at 12:21 am - Reply

    As a pastor who has experienced the depths of despair, depression, complete breakdown, and the accompanying consequences, I know some of what it is to live on the fringe, how lonely it can be especially in church, how people misunderstand and say they care, but seldom do. I thought God could never use me after the breakdown. But God not only worked in me, he worked through me. Sometimes when I was/am weakest, God was/is using me to reach someone else who was/is weak as well. They didn’t/don’t care about my problems. And ultimately it doesn’t matter, only that I listen and care, and I have learned enough to know that my hurt allows me to listen to another who is hurting. And I know that only Jesus can speak words of comfort and hope into that life. And so my words, if spoken, have to be of Jesus Christ, not my own “solution.”

    Now, I am more attuned to those who silently hurt, who have lived behind masks because of fear, uncertianity, indifference. It takes longer, but I have to listen, and I can’t help but not listen. My heart breaks even if no words are spoken.

    And it is a continuing lesson for me…

    broken but mending
    blessed to be a blessing
    forgiven to be forgiving

    • Amy May 29, 2012 at 5:43 am - Reply

      Exegete77, thanks for sharing a bit of your story and your experience as a pastor.

      • exegete77 May 29, 2012 at 6:04 am - Reply

        I should have left my name. Sorry.

        Rich

        • Amy May 29, 2012 at 6:36 am - Reply

          No problem! I will say I was curious about the exegete77 and wondered it is is about Ps 77? Amy

  7. LeAnne P May 29, 2012 at 9:31 pm - Reply

    I was most surprised by the comparison to Veteran’s Day. I, personally, don’t see a corelation. While I am absolutely grateful for both my mother and those who have fought for America, the number of people who desperately want to serve in the military but cannot is no where near the number of those who are sensitive about motherhood. It seemed to be a reach for two things honored in the church but an analogy that falls flat. It’s just not the same thing.

    I love your #3. Excellent summary of an excellent point. Father’s Day isn’t the day to “challenge” fathers or men to do better. Let’s praise and appreciate our men. It’s a tough job, too.

    I also love the reason you can post #1. The comments by pastors were awesome and refreshing.

  8. wanderwithlizzie May 30, 2012 at 9:32 pm - Reply

    This is only semi-related, but when you spoke of step-parents it made me think of foster parents. My friends just flew to Korea to adopt a 2-year-old little boy. While their story is full of love and grace, I can’t help but think of the foster parents. They raised little Isaac for over a year and loved him…just to give him away. That kind of love, grace, and care is extra-ordinary. The foster mother did not give birth to the child and neither will she see him graduate from highschool, but she loved him and cared for him all the while knowing that one day he would be taken away from her.

    Now that deserves some recognition. (Especially in light of the many who give a bad reputation to the word foster-parent.)

    • Amy May 30, 2012 at 9:55 pm - Reply

      Agreed! I think they were mentioned in the first letter — I have good friends who are foster parents and I am so impressed with their willingness to keep putting themselves out there when most of the kids have moved through their home.

  9. mashena June 4, 2012 at 9:00 am - Reply

    I’m a new reader to your blog and love both the original letter and this one! I’m a single woman who has had the opportunity to “mother” a group of teenagers for the past three years. I’ve always appreciated the people in my life who have taken the time to acknowledge that on Mother’s Day. I have many friends who struggle on that day, and I always try to acknowledge their pain and struggle because I know how much the recognition of the very emotions of that very feminine role means to me.

    • Amy June 4, 2012 at 9:17 am - Reply

      Mashena, thanks for stopping by and sharing a bit of your life with us!

  10. I love the original letter, and your follow-up here. I would add to your list though ~ mothers in the midst of the long process of adoption.

    • Avatar photo
      Amy May 5, 2013 at 6:17 am - Reply

      Oh Katie, yes! That can go one forever! I’ll go in an add it this morning (just woke up and need to get a cup of tea in me first :)) … and may your road be shortened a bit this year (if you’re on the road to adoption).

  11. A S May 6, 2013 at 11:02 pm - Reply

    Permission to quote in a church service?

  12. Christina Matson May 7, 2013 at 1:08 am - Reply

    May I print the litany giving credit to you and this blog?

    • Avatar photo
      Amy May 7, 2013 at 8:35 am - Reply

      Yes! Please use! :)

  13. Treloar Price May 7, 2013 at 6:47 am - Reply

    Amy,
    A friend just posted the link to your original Open Letter to Pastors. I so appreciate your willingness to articulate the secret pain that can accompany this (and other) holidays. Thank you! My church (MosaicSD.org) would love to create a “spoken word” segment in our Mother’s Day service (2013) as a way of acknowledging the continuum of mothering. To that end, I am wondering if you would consider granting permission for #2 to be read (and possibly modified in a limited way to fit the spoken word concept) in our service?

    • Avatar photo
      Amy May 7, 2013 at 8:50 am - Reply

      Yes!! And it’s fine to modify it — you know your flock/church body and their needs! Thanks for the comment.

      • Treloar Price May 7, 2013 at 11:27 pm - Reply

        Thank you so much!!

  14. Melody May 7, 2013 at 10:13 am - Reply

    I’ve been sitting here pondering: does the Bible ever explicitly honor mothers? Or nurturing as one of the roles given uniquely to women?

    I am a mother… but honestly, Mother’s Day as an event has never meant much to me. (Sorry, Hallmark.) If I want to honor my mother (mother-in-law, mother-in-love, women who have mothered me), I’d rather do it on a unique day not shared with the rest of the world. As for me, I like celebrating my own “Mother’s Day” on the day my eldest was born. I tell him he has to share the day — and cake! — with me because, after all, he made me a mother! ;)

    I’d like to see Mother’s Day ‘hijacked’ as a day to celebrate God’s good idea of creating women… likewise, Father’s Day celebrating His good idea of creating men. What better way to glorify our brilliant Creator’s design!

    • Jen May 8, 2013 at 7:33 am - Reply

      I love this comment.

      I am a pastor in a church that tries to stick relatively closely to the liturgical year. This year Mother’s day falls on the last Sunday of the Easter Season. We will still be talking about Jesus rising from the dead.

      That said, if we do nod toward mother’s day it might be in reading the wide range of mothering from this blog. I thought it was really powerful. We have a woman in our congregation who just celebrated the one year anniversary of her stillborn baby boy. And many others who have their own struggles with their own mothers or as mothers… all along the wide range of motherhood.

      Jesus didn’t have a lot of really positive words about families. Maybe we should talk about some of his sayings on Mother’s and Father’s days: “who is my mother and who are my brothers?… Here they are. The ones who do the will of my Father in heaven.” Or, “I did not come to bring peace, but a sword… For I have come to turn a man against his father, a daughter against her mother, a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law— a man’s enemies will be the members of his own household. Anyone who loves their father or mother more than me is not worthy of me; anyone who loves their son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me.”
      I don’t mean to be harsh about families (ha. those are Jesus’ words, not mine), but I think the person who posted above has a point.

      Maybe, if you’re not so inclined toward the liturgical year, it would be good to talk about the mothering heart of God this mother’s day. “Oh Jerusalem, how I have longed to gather you under my wings, like a hen gathers her chicks.”

      • Jen May 8, 2013 at 7:36 am - Reply

        So much for being a superstar (read: competent) pastor. This Sunday is Ascension Sunday. So, let me humbly correct my above comment: This Sunday we will be talking about Jesus ascending to the Father. The point remains.

  15. Branalyn May 7, 2013 at 2:12 pm - Reply

    Here it is almost mother’s day and since I run the sound and my husband is the youth pastor, I will have to be in church. For many years, I loved that the moms in our former church would stand and get a flower for mother’s day. Enter: infertility. And it is one of the most heart-wrenching days ever. I wouldn’t mind if I could stay home (and for a couple years at our old church I did exactly that) but that will not be a possibility this year. On the upside, I will be in the sound booth and no one will be looking up there. This is a new church to us so I have no idea how it will be handled. I agree that being a mom is a tough job and that job should be recognized. But I am at a point in my life where I am scraping and saving to be able to have a baby and it hurts that I haven’t been able to join the ranks of motherhood yet.
    So, let me join the ranks here and say thank you for these posts. Not only will I put a link to all three posts everywhere I can, I will e-mail it to several pastor friends and hope they take it in the way it is intended. Because I know their efforts are to give props to the moms out there, but I need them to know that their message may not be taken as intended.

    Thank you!!!

    • Avatar photo
      Amy May 7, 2013 at 7:45 pm - Reply

      Branalyn, I thankful it was helpful. I’ve been on the sound team as well, and the sound booth is a great way to be in church without having to interact if you don’t want to. I’m praying for you as I type this!

  16. Elsa May 7, 2013 at 10:33 pm - Reply

    I would first like to say that I greatly appreciate your post. I don’t particularly like Mother’s Day. This is for one very huge reason: I’m a birthmother. Because I’m a birthmother I believe I fall into the category of my child being separated from me by distance. My son lives with an incredible and wonderful couple that live about twenty minutes away from me. I get to see him a few times a year and his mom, dad and I talk to each other over email. Placing my child for adoption was the number one most difficult decision of my life and the hardest thing I’ve had to do so far. But I don’t regret it because I know that he has a far better life than the one I and my ex could have given him.

    Would also like to point out that my ex is not my ex because of this. We didn’t break up until a year or more after all of that happened and it was not a matter of cheating or fighting or anything either of us was doing, it was simply a matter of time and distance and we are trying to build our own lives and we are just in separate places right now. I have discovered that amongst birthmothers, my ex is unique in that he did not bully me into doing adoption, he did not cheat on me while I was pregnant, he did not cause any major drama at the hospital, he willingly signed the surrender papers in front of me and did not take them back and he was there with me in the hospital and has been there for me ever since just as I have been there for him. He is still one of my best friends and we talk often. One night after hearing about a particularly spectacular jerk of a boyfriend with a birthmother, I texted my ex and thanked him for being the greatest guy I have ever known. His response was, “Ok… what happened?” I told him how thus far he is the only birthfather I know of who has been true and loyal and supportive the whole time. His response being,

    “Wow, I thought I was just being a man. Didn’t realize I was doing something remarkable.” To which I said to him,

    “You were being a man. A good man. And that has become remarkable…. which is really sad and has made me really depressed about our society as a whole. Wow, I’m going to go curl up in a ball now.”

    What bothers me is that while I haven’t seen it much, both of us are considered bad parents by some members of society. We decided together that our combined resources, as paltry as they were, could not provide a good and stable home for our baby and we decided together that we should place our child for adoption because we could not subject our innocent little child to the hell that would have surrounded him. I found a couple that I thought would be a good fit and we both met them and discovered we had about ninety different things in common and they were wonderful and kind and loving and really wanted to become parents. And they have loved and adored our child since the moment they met him. I feel like we did the right thing. In the middle of the night do we still sometimes ask ourselves if we did the right thing? Of course we do. We’re always going to do that. That’s something we’ve come to accept. What I have a hard time accepting is telling someone for one reason or another that I’m a birthmother and there’s a mental, nearly physical shift in their eyes as they try to reconcile their idea of the mother who placed their child for adoption with the person they have standing before them. I have only had a few words of dissention directed my way and even those were hard to accept. But the worst was my ex was yelled at while I was still pregnant and was told he was a horrible father and was abandoning his child. I nearly drove down to his work (which was three hours away from where I was living at that point) 9 months pregnant and slapped the person in question mostly with the words “how dare you!” on my lips. In the world of deadbeat dads I do not count my ex as one. He was there. He made the hard decisions with me and he stuck by them and me even when he didn’t want to and I didn’t want to and we both knew it. Still, we reminded ourselves of the reasons and we maintained. We made the best decision we could under the circumstances. Regrets? Enough to sink a ship. But we have never regretted placing our son where he is now. I just regret my life at the time and that that was the best decision under the circumstances.

    Last Mother’s Day I went to a church I had never been to before. I was going for various reasons and didn’t realize I said I would do it on Mother’s Day until I woke up that morning, got dressed, looked in the mirror and said, “Oh crap, it’s Mother’s Day.” I could have not gone. The friend I was checking out the church for knew all about my son and would have understood in a heartbeat. But I went. It was a nice little Lutheran church near where I live. The pastor’s solution about Mother’s Day I have to admit was a unique and very very inclusive one. His solution was for ALL the women and girls to remain seated while all the men stood around the pews and held out their hands to pray over all of us be we mothers, grandmothers, mothers to children as teachers, aunts, sisters, daughters, all of us. As we left the sanctuary, any woman could pick up a carnation to wear. I picked one up and was heading to the fellowship hall for cake and coffee when the pastor greeted me and asked,

    “Are you a mother?” Hmmm… now, I have a strict policy to never lie to a clergyman in their house. Not because I think I’ll get struck by lightning. Just because I think it’s rude on some level or another.

    “Yes and no,” I replied.

    “Okay,” he said with a smile and nod.

    “I gave birth to a son, I placed him for open adoption, he lives with a wonderful couple and I see him few times a year.”

    “Ah! Okay, well then you’re a mother! Go get some cake! I’m very glad you’re here!” *phew!* So I went and I sat and I ate cake and told a couple other people about me and Joseph and everyone was supportive and positive. It was the second Mother’s Day I had to live through as a birthmother.

    I’m quickly coming up on the third and I will be in Atlanta at a craft festival that I will be selling at. I’m considering going to a church service nearby, just haven’t thought about it as of yet. It’s Mother’s Day after all. I do have a friend working with a church in Atlanta so she may know of a cool place to go. Sorry to drag on so much here. I just got back from a birthmother conference and I actually feel open about the subject and like talking about it more. I have to hold my tongue in some places but not in others. And I just wanted to thank you for this post and the other one since Mother’s Day is a very awkward holiday for me, especially if I’m in church.

    • Avatar photo
      Amy May 8, 2013 at 5:15 pm - Reply

      Elsa, thank you for taking the time to so beautifully show (and not just tell) us what your experience has been. And it sounds like you have a wise and caring ex!

    • Lisa May 9, 2013 at 3:58 am - Reply

      Miss Elsa,

      Thank you for sharing your story with us. I hope the L-rd uses it to open eyes and hearts. Please forgive those who you come across in your life who act inappropriately or say inappropriate things to you regarding motherhood. Please forgive me as well if what I am about to say brings offense for that is not my intention.

      I ask the L-rd to bless you and the father of the child you created together. You have both made a tremendous sacrifice and I know the L-rd will honor your decision. Regardless of the world’s definition of “Mother,” you are one. You are a mother in a physical sense, but more importantly, in a spiritual sense.

      I say this because you have taken the time to share of your heart and attempt to teach us not only about the meaning of love, but of the true meaning of the Father’s love. It is written in John 15:13, “There is no greater love than this: that a person would lay down his life for the sake of his friends.” You and your Ex showed the greatest love of all. You gave up yourselves (your hopes, your dreams, your desires for this child) in order for this child to have a better life and now you are mothering us, total strangers, by teaching us about the Father’s love.

      Mothering isn’t about whether we have conceived or given birth to a child. Mother is about training up a child, and no matter how old we get, we are still children in the Father’s eyes, in the way we should go so that we are able to walk in the two Great Commandments — “Love THE L-RD JEHOVAH, your G-d, from all your heart and from all your soul and from all your strength and from all your mind and your neighbor as yourself” (Deuteronomy 6:5 and Luke 10:27).

      On this day, I give thanks for ALL of the women in my life the L-rd has blessed me with and I am privileged to call Mother, Sister, Daughter, and Friend. On Mother’s Day, all women should stand because we all mother one another in one way or another. May the L-rd bless all women.

    • Alison May 12, 2013 at 3:40 am - Reply

      Elsa, you are totally awesome. My best friend is an adoptee and he has an excellent relationship with his birthmother (even though he didn’t know her when he was a kid). She worried that he would be mad that she “gave him up” but really his attitude is exactly the same as yours: it was the best solution given the circumstances and it showed real selfless love. I’m so glad you found support at a Lutheran church last year (I am Lutheran myself) and I hope you & all other birthmothers continue to find the support you deserve. Happy Mother’s Day to you and to the people who adopted your child. Thanks for sharing your story & God bless you!

  17. Cecilia Pessoa May 8, 2013 at 2:59 am - Reply

    Since I’m thinking about Mother’s Day, one thing I would like to tell pastors is to stop it with the whole “young women who will be mothers someday” thing. Not only does it hurt women who are not young and don’t have children for whatever reason, but it harms the thinking of us young women. This attitude tells women that our purpose in life is to give birth. As someone who is seriously discerning whether I’m called to a single life this ‘future mother’ thing really frustrates me.

    • Avatar photo
      Amy May 8, 2013 at 10:57 am - Reply

      As a friend of mine likes to say, “bingo!”

    • Claire May 13, 2013 at 10:05 am - Reply

      As a young woman I was always told I would be a mother some day. My father started going on about grandchildren when my sister turned 18 (I was 16). It turned out to be medically impossible for either my sister or me to become mothers–God’s design for us. Many women will become mothers, but they will also become other things. The only place I am defined by my childlessness is at my church–which remains the most socially stigmatizing place in existance.

      • Avatar photo
        Amy May 13, 2013 at 11:08 am - Reply

        Claire,

        I find this sadly more true than I’d like. Amy

  18. Louise Curtis May 8, 2013 at 3:52 am - Reply

    To those who are not attracted to men but long for a child, we embrace you.

  19. ryan strebeck May 9, 2013 at 12:31 am - Reply

    Amy,
    Thanks for these “open letters.” This is a very good conversation which most of us pastors appreciate having.
    RS

    • Avatar photo
      Amy May 9, 2013 at 7:41 am - Reply

      Thanks Ryan, I too have been encouraged by the conversations that are going on! Amy

  20. Sandy May 9, 2013 at 1:52 am - Reply

    I’d say there are more you missed, “To those who have made the choice not to be mothers, married or single, we respect your right to choice.”

    “To those who walk along side others as mentor or even spiritual companion but who do not feel comfortable being called a mother just because you’re are female and provide care and nurture, we don’t force you into a box.”

    • Erin January 2, 2014 at 4:03 pm - Reply

      >>To those who have made the choice not to be mothers

      Amen, amen, amen!

      Sometimes I think it’s even harder to be a non-mother by choice in the church than it is to be a non-mom due to tragedy. At least the church does sometimes acknowledge the tragedy… I don’t think I’ve ever, in seventeen years as a Christian, heard any church acknowledge lack of motherhood as a *choice*. (Except insofar as it’s an indirect ‘tragedy’ of being single… which, guess what: I’m also single by choice!)

      Absolutely nothing makes me feel more alienated and out-of-place as being a member of a church for YEARS and never once hearing a single soul acknowledge that I exist. Apparently ALL Christian women yearn for motherhood (and by extension, marriage); I’m some kind of unChristian freak, so rare that it’s never been encountered in the wild before! Which leaves me feeling, first, that nobody could possibly understand if I tried to bring up this issue to the church leadership (they’re the leaders! If they’ve been excluding an entire category of people for years on end, obviously that’s deliberate; surely no one could do that completely by accident!), and second… what am I doing, sitting there, when I’m Not Who They Want In Their Church?

      Thank you so much for addressing the supreme awkward exclusion that goes on when churches and Mothers’ Day collide.

    • Marie May 10, 2014 at 9:56 pm - Reply

      Another non-mom-by-choice woman here, and good points!

      In the “To [some kind of mother], we honor [something about] you,” aren’t us non-moms-by-choice in the “we” doing the honoring instead of the “you” being honored?

      How’s maybe

      “To mothers, we – men, women, and children – honor you.”

      at the beginning before the lines specifying different kinds of mothers?

  21. lanessa May 9, 2013 at 12:49 pm - Reply

    I was one of the many many many women touched by your letter last year. (and was shocked with how small the world is as we came to find out we share our great friend LeAnne!) This week, I began receiving email messages when people began commenting and posting from your original letter which helped me revisit and reflect again as we prepare for Mother’s Day this weekend. I would love to hear your thoughts..from one single 30-something to another.

    I have dreamed of having children maybe even slightly more than dreaming of a prince charming. In my twenties, not having kids was understandable as I was completing my very long educational path. So I felt I was still very much walking the path God had laid on my heart…I could be patient. As I started working and I progressed into my thirties and then sailed past “advanced maternal age” I mourned the idea that I would most likely not have biological children of my own. And more and more, I began asking God in my quiet times..”Is this really the plan you have for me?. If it is please give me the strength to walk this path and please protect my heart for what I imagine to be increasing loneliness” as years turns into decades without children. Then I feel guilt for not trusting God’s plan and question whether I have had enough faith that it would happen. (“And all things, whatever you shall ask in prayer, believing, you shall receive”….”Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you”.) So is it me who has kept the door closed by doubt..or even worse..have I truly not sought and allowed my profession really to be my main focus? Is it a protective mechanism to lessen the hurt if I go all out and it still doesn’t happen? All these thoughts race through my mind some days and definitely as we head to another Mother’s Day.

    I am a naturally optimistic person and prefer to go into Mother’s Day honoring my mother and adopted mother and other women who have served such a vital role in my life. I want to celebrate my friends who are wonderful mothers (or soon to be mothers) with a pureness of heart. I want to feel a sense of completeness for my role of aunt to my wonderful nieces and nephews and to the kids of several close friends. And I want to see God’s hand in the motherless who desire to be mothers. I have no doubts His plan is greater. I believe, Please God help me with my unbelief.

    Much love and respect to you Amy and for all the others who have shared as well.

    • Avatar photo
      Amy May 9, 2013 at 5:16 pm - Reply

      Lanessa, it is such a small world! And I’m glad to see you back. You have posted such a thoughtful comment and I’m sorry I don’t have time to respond more to it. You have raised one of the age old questions! I’ll try to come back to it when I’m not quite so busy :). xx Amy

  22. mejaka May 9, 2013 at 10:29 pm - Reply

    I enjoyed reading your letter, a few related posts, and I am tickled by the tone of your blog. I will have to check a few more posts to see if the description of what you’re drinking is a trademark on every post.

    This conversation happens in my faith community all the time. We’re also asked to stand, but the invitation is extended to mothers and all women 18 and over (because 18 is when they leave the youth program and go into the women’s program in the church). Also, sometimes we hear it expressed that Eve was called the mother of all living before she ever bore a child–her motherhood preceded her maternity–and that suggests that mothering is a capability and a quality of womanhood that is not limited to maternity.

    Still–we have the conversation. I know women, as you do, who don’t attend on Mother’s Day. In our faith, there is no sermon; the congregation is addressed by a few of its own members every Sunday, as assigned by the clergyman. The talks tend to leave most of us–mothers and not–feeling discouraged more than anything, it seems. We hear about a speaker’s perfect mother, or we hear about how to be a good mother, or we listen to an assertion of the nobility of motherhood while we wipe noses and shush children and remember the huge fight we had just two days ago with our teenkid. We don’t feel very noble. We feel tired. They give us a plant or a flower or chocolate and we joke with each other about how we really wish they’d just tell all of us to stay home, and insist that our husbands bring our children to church and give us a break. And because our services last three hours, it would be a really nice break!

    I’ve come to terms with Mother’s Day. I know that in a faith like mine where family life is so important, no one will ever decide that it’s okay to skip the brouhah and just focus on Christ on Mother’s Day. But the reality is that what is valuable about every mother is so individual, no one can really address it from the pulpit. Only my husband and my children know what makes me a great mother. And some of the things that make me a great mother in my own family would make me a lousy mother in another family. So the only people I really need appreciation from are the people who actually know what they are appreciating–what mothering and motherhood have cost me, and what I as a mother and a woman have given to them.

    I’m grateful that they are good at it. :^ )

    • Avatar photo
      Amy May 10, 2013 at 6:04 am - Reply

      Mejaka, I’m delighted to hear that your faith community is one that has these kind of conversations! I think they are important to have … even if we disagree with each other :). They help us understand each, learn how to “conflict” in healthy, non-destructive ways.

  23. Shawn Beaty May 9, 2013 at 11:46 pm - Reply

    Again…. Great insight and depth. As a Pastor I deeply appreciate your posture and opinions :) I wish i had a few of you in my congregation!

    • Avatar photo
      Amy May 10, 2013 at 5:58 am - Reply

      Thanks Shawn :) … if you think I have insight and depth, I think we’d hit it off great :)! Haha.

  24. amy May 10, 2013 at 11:17 pm - Reply

    I am new here and am terribly grateful that you were empowered to write the listing of Mothering people in our world. As a Pastor, i want to be open and listen to folks but to acknowledge their mothering pains is a difficult task indeed; that you put together the jumping off point for prayer and unifying relationships is, indeed, powerful.
    Above, there was a comment that pastor’s don’t listen and hijack the conversation with our own experiences. I am sorry that happens and work intentionally to not do that to folks. Please, continue to engage your pastor and be as bold about your perception of that happening as you are about bringing your stuff to them. They may not be aware that they hijack, and they may not see you as a parishioner even in the depths of your sharing. You may feel so familiar that they think of your, inappropriately, as being there as a friend would be there. I have seen some pastors forget that boundary and professionalism.
    Also, I believe in honoring mothers and fathers on their secular-ly set aside day; we do veterans day and a bit on memorial day as well. Having said that, on Mother’s Day this year, our youth made tissue paper flowers and we’ll, as in the past, give them to all women present, honoring a woman’s way of being in relationships. On Father’s day, we’ll honor all the men and their way of being in relationship. They are different ways, but God’s ten commandments are, ultimately, about boundaries and parameters for relationships. so it makes sense, to me, to honor folks in this way. Youth don’t get this honoring as we lift up adults (out of high school folks) in this way. I am wondering if this is off-putting. I’ve had no negative comments about it…and will now directly ask people their impressions, but no one has seemed put off…
    Thank you, Amy, for sharing your wisdom and insight. :) May God continue to bless you in this ministry!

  25. Sarah May 11, 2013 at 9:28 am - Reply

    This is very interesting, and it brings up a subject that many people do not know how to address. I have four children living, and one in heaven. My second child died just a few weeks before Mother’s Day, and that year was an agonizing experience. Here is a recent blog post addressing the anniversary of my son’s birth and death. (http://sarahsnotes-rvmama.blogspot.com/2013/04/remembering-nathanten-years.html) I have several friends who struggle with infertility, and others who have special needs children. Mother’s Day, while it does show respect and appreciation for mothers, can also bring grief and pain to those who have no children, have no hope of having children, have children who will never be “normal,” have bad memories of family situations, or have recently lost a mother or child. My heart goes out to those who are hurting, and I wish that there was some way to alleviate the pain. Hugs to all those grieving people!

  26. Alison May 12, 2013 at 3:26 am - Reply

    Great letters, but I’d like to add one more category: “…to those women who intentionally never had children and are not sad about it (except on days like this when the church tries to make you feel sad), we applaud you for making a responsible decision that helps control earth’s overpopulation problem and leaves you freer to serve the community in other ways; we fully acknowledge that you are in no way less of a woman or less of a person for making this decision, and in some ways we admire you for it. And to all the parents who never pushed their kids to make grandchildren, we applaud you for your thoughtfulness.”

    This week I have seen various messages about Mother’s Day similar to the ones you posted, and they are a wonderful breath of fresh air, except that they all assume everyone who doesn’t have kids or grandkids is necessarily sad about it. This is true for many people but not for everyone. The church needs to keep reexamining what kinds of subliminal messages we are sending. If not having kids is nothing short of a tragedy, then maybe a person who doesn’t want children is automatically a moral failure somehow? Reality check: women & men who choose not to have children serve an equally important purpose in society and in church. “It takes a village to raise a child,” and childless people are an important part of that “village,” if we work in ways that mentor other people’s kids or even if we do other things that help kids indirectly, like the mechanic who fixes Mom’s brakes properly or the pizza deliverer who brings dinner when Dad is too tired to cook. We are all different parts of “the body of Christ” (1Cor 12).

    • Avatar photo
      Amy May 12, 2013 at 9:32 am - Reply

      Alison, I’m in that category! I”m a very contented non-parent :).

  27. Sue May 12, 2013 at 4:51 am - Reply

    Interestingly enough, I decided before I read this that maybe this was the year I wouldn’t do what is expected of me as a pastor on Mother’s Day. And I was glad when our Council backed me up on it. Mother’s Day is a lovely cultural concept and as a mom, I sure appreciate a nudge to my grown kids to give me a call (or better yet, a visit!). But one of the reasons it gained SO MUCH currency in the church in decades past is because women had no official role in the church outside of teaching children, and doing ‘women’s ministry.’ So male-led pastors bent over backwards to shower attention on women on Mother’s Day, during which they spent exactly no time reflecting on the problems you’ve outlined so well. What was happening, was official support to the idea that women are meant by God to be mothers and that.is.all. Even if one is a mother, that is a diminished vision of women, who are also made in the image of God and called to be followers of Jesus in the church, where this is no male or female. So, even if all the women in my congregation were ok with it, that still would make it wrong – we are always teaching about the gospel, and this is a serious diversion.
    I never felt before this year that I could rock the boat on this, but perhaps something is changing in the culture, or the Spirit is at work. This year I will pray for moms (and I will not make them stand – thanks to you for that one), but that is all. We will give flowers to all the women during coffee hour, but that won’t be a part of our worship service (and next year we may not do that). And we will return to our primary focus, which is Jesus and following HIm!
    Now, this is even MORE true when it comes to Veterans’ Day, which in my opinion doesn’t belong in the church at all! I usually ask them to stand, and pray a prayer thanking God for their sacrifices and the spirit of sacrifice which becomes a follower of Jesus, but really – some followers of Jesus could make a very good case for not serving in the military. What am I doing honoring only half of that equation? Veterans’ should be thoroughly thanked by our nation; the church is an alternate polis. We’ll see if I have the courage to reduce the importance of that this year.
    So thanks for this – may we have the courage to keep Jesus before us and to do what he did and be clear about the mission.

  28. Upstream Fish May 12, 2013 at 5:39 am - Reply

    Things are made even more complicated for those of us who are not mothers, and also are no longer daughters. I won’t be attending church tomorrow morning. I believe the chances of being brought to tears and leaving upset are so high, that I am choosing avoidance. Married 20 years, I have never been a mother. Add to that, having lost my mother last June (and my father more than 10 years ago), I’m concerned that I will feel even more alienated than ever on Mother’s Day. I plan to spend the day quietly, with my husband, and honor my mother in my own private way.

    Your post is beautiful, and thoughtful. Thanks for bringing attention to this subject!

  29. Alison May 12, 2013 at 11:36 am - Reply

    God bless you, Upstream Fish.

    Actually you *are* still a daughter and you still have a mother to love & honor,
    but not having her with you probably makes Mother’s Day feel like enduring another funeral…

    Your comment is very moving.

    Wishing you many blessings in your private time with your husband.

    <3

  30. Amber May 13, 2013 at 1:07 am - Reply

    Amy, – I found your original letter late last night. I was blown away by the love you expressed in the Mother’s Day posts and comments. I fell asleep praying for all women today. For unity for understanding across “group lines”.

    For those with children – May your empathy be widened to include those without children. May your honor and support of the greiving not diminish your own special day today, but in laying down your rights and including others at the celebration, make you shine lovely. Beautiful.

    For those without children – May your empathy be widened to mothers today. May your honor and support of mothers grow your understanding that brokenness comes in all forms, including mothering. May you lay down your rights and honor even when it is so unbelievably painful.

    May we avoid stereotypes and labelling and see each other’s worth as precious creations and call each other by name and not by “group”. May we love, believing the best and delaying judgement.

    Amy, I look forward to reading more here. So blessed by your words.

    • Avatar photo
      Amy May 13, 2013 at 6:49 am - Reply

      Thanks Amber … how nice to think of you drifting off to sleep praying for folks :)!

  31. Joanie May 13, 2013 at 4:38 am - Reply

    Amy, thank you for this, now year old, post about Mother’s Day. You have captured the essence of the day. Yes, there are mothers who’ve sacrificed years to the rearing of children (theirs, step, surrogate, by-choice) but there are also many non-childbearing woman who have filled those same roles. Can we ever have too many people who love us and care for our well being? Nope! Thank you for helping others be sensitive to the need of all women to nurture.

  32. Joyce May 13, 2013 at 10:26 am - Reply

    Sigh. You’ve handled a tough subject rather well as a writer, but it’s misdirected. Some pastors do miss the boat on their social skills, but I think we all know that a pastor can never please everyone (who can?).

    Those who are hurting and in pain need to understand it is not human beings they are offended by, but rather they take offense at God. That’s the core of “hurt” when one’s life has not taken the path they expected/demanded/wanted. They may also make the mistaken assumption they wouldn’t be hurting if they were a mother. We all have inconsolable longings for things, we need to stop deifying motherhood as the only way to feel whole as a woman, but those who have served honourably as mothers shouldn’t have their honor removed in the process.

    The whole point of the day is honouring mothers. To include absolutely every other category of woman is like holding a birthday party for one child and giving a present to every other sibling because you don’t want anyone’s feelings to be hurt. We all need to get back to the point: sometimes I am honoured, sometimes I am not. It’s okay. If I’m hurt, I don’t have to take someone else’s honour and water it down. Moms are unnoticed most of the year, give them at least one day where they don’t have to share the spotlight with someone else.

    • Avatar photo
      Amy May 13, 2013 at 11:15 am - Reply

      Hi Joyce, thanks for the comment! I decided to address my letter to pastors, but as you say, they might not be the only one who need a letter :). However, we’re all in this together, being the body and all! I do take mild offense at the way some people do things, but I think we might be talking about different things (I’m talking about the process and I think you’re talking more about the product/state of something). So, it’s likely that we’ll probably have to agree to disagree on this one :) Amy

    • Rachel May 15, 2013 at 2:16 am - Reply

      The difficulty is, we don’t have another day set aside to honour “absolutely every other category of women.” By over-emphasizing biological motherhood on mothers day (having the mothers stand, publicly giving them all a flower, etc.), we only make those who are currently single, infertile, etc. feel like second class citizens or put on display as somehow “not measuring up.”

  33. […] are categories Amy added to #2 in a follow up piece, “Another Open Letter to Pastors {Lessons from the Comments […]

  34. Rachel May 10, 2014 at 4:13 pm - Reply

    Hi Amy,

    I’ve been mulling on these several related posts for most of the night, and feel there are some things that must be said. Firstly I have walked the path of infertility and loss with others, and I want you to know I get it. Mothers Day causes pain as well as celebration. I really do sympathize with those for who this day is bittersweet, or simply bitter. I want to help carry their pain, I really do. I want to make it easier in any way I can, or at least not make it harder. However there are some trends in my own church and in others that concern me. I don’t feel we deal with pain and disappointment very well within the church … But I don’t feel a top-down inclusivity is necessarily the healthiest or best way of helping those who are hurting.

    For example in my church for many years I refused the flower given to every woman on mothers day, and was made to feel mean for doing so. The official position is that every woman mothers in some way. My position is that I wasn’t a mother, and I had no desire to be given honor for something I was not.

    Now that I am a mum I feel the flip side of this coin. While there is a place for honoring those who pour out their lives for kids who are not their own, the obsession with labeling every woman as a mother in some way and every man as a father in some way makes me feel … Redundant. It’s as if the church is saying that anyone could be ‘mother’ to my kids, that if I died or walked out tomorrow that I would be utterly, completely replaceable to them. Of course it takes a village and we need everyone to help raise these beautiful little people. If the worst should happen I hope there would be wonderful people who would help fill my place, mothering my kids where I could not. But the reality remains that for my kids there would always be some kind of gap left by my absence that can never be filled by anyone else, no matter how wonderful. That is what we are honoring on mothers and fathers day- a precious relationship that is unique to the parent and child involved.

    I feel worse for fathers – with so many absentee dads the sermons I hear honoring every man as a father must make some wonder why they bother. Why should they stick around or be involved of they are replaceable, redundant, not really that important? Why sacrifice or love when someone could even do it better than you? In an effort to minimize pain to others I fear we are simply creating a new type of pain – parents who feel sidelined, unimportant, unseen and the child whose unique need for mum & dad is minimized.

    The other issue that concerns me is the idea that pain needs to be taken a way or avoided rather than walked through. What if, instead of generically referring to all women as spiritual mothers, church relationships and discipleship were strong enough so that everyone had at least one person looking out for them on difficult days? My friend lost her mother a few months ago – our home group banded together to give her a beautiful bouquet & card to mark mothers day for her. A colleague who lost their teenager receives pink flowers each birthday that passes. A couple walking through infertility received a baby hat embroidered with the word ‘faith’ for Christmas. If I was in church today I would be sitting by certain friends to give them a squeeze on the hand when mothers day is mentioned. In my comnunity gardens have been planted for those who’ve lost babies to miscarriage, abortion and stillbirth. These gestures mean more than inclusivity on one day – it means you are walking the journey together, every day. This is what we need in church.

    I am concerned with the idea that a wound needs never be touched. The truth is we are all wounded. For one woman it might be a miscarriage. Another the loss of her precious mum. Another it might be financial trouble, infertility, loss of a career, broken relationships. For my family it’s debilitating mental illness. For people describing mothers day in church as being like a razor, leaving them raw, in tears, vowing not to attend that service again. For us every church service for the past several months has been like this. Out of self preservation we did not go for a few months – but that was never the long term solution. We understood that we needed to go, regardless of wounds being pressed on, we needed to be part of that community and walk with others to a place where it could become joyful again. To the severely depressed person withdrawal – though so so tempting and a sought-after relief – withdrawal is the end. It is quite literally suicide. To give up fighting is to give up life itself. So no matter how hard it is we press on because the alternative is not an option. There will never be another man capable of replacing my husband for my kids – he’s their dad and they desperately need him. That’s what has kept him alive.

    And to all those who struggle with private pain and with church – I get it. I really, really do. But from the bottom of my heart please do not give up. Don’t withdraw and don’t allow your pain to destroy you. Don’t allow it to define you. Walk the journey with trusted friends. Help raise the kids in your community – even if it’s just to hide in the pantry with me eating chocolate. Cry, and cry again. Feel. Ask for and create services acknowledging loss and disappointment. Light candles in a prayer service for long-held hopes. Come to the foot of the cross knowing your Savior experienced pain. Ask your pastor not to do the standing thing. Honor the mothers in your midst for the unique relationship they have with their child. Work your way to a place of acceptance of where you are and what you have – it doesn’t minimise your pain and grief will always there, but grief that does not flow like a river will leave you stagnant and bitter.

    Let’s acknowledge each other and know that if I was your friend I would walk on hot coals to help bear your pain, as you would do mine. Together let’s create a church calendar that gives solace and peace, that brings us together. Let us love and honor each other – and please, pastors, encourage mums to stay home and sleep in on mothers day while dad brings the kids to church. That means more than a flower!!

    • Sue May 10, 2014 at 9:26 pm - Reply

      Thanks for your words. My mom died a month ago, and the runup to Mother’s Day has been hard – every wonderful commercial celebrating moms brings the tears again. But it is because of that that I, as the PASTOR, finally realized what I’ve always missed, probably because I became a mother relatively young. Mother’s Day is to celebrate that we all HAD mothers, one way or another. It’s not about me as a mom – it’s about the fact that I have/had a mom, and to honor her. So this year everybody gets a flower, not because everyone mothers somebody but, for better or for worse, we all had mothers. Why did I not see that before? Yes, not all mothers were good, and not everyone knows their mother, and some of us grieve our moms. But we are here! She did that for us. Peace to us all tomorrow.

  35. Dearabby820 May 12, 2014 at 2:14 am - Reply

    I read your original article earlier this week and it reminded me of how amazingly blessed I am. It also opened my incredibly selfish heart to think today about the people I talked to in my church family. I have a dear friend from Switzerland who has no family here in the States who lost her mom only a couple years ago. She is in her 30s and her and her husband have not had a baby even though I know she wants children. She genuinely came up to me to greet my second child, a one month old son, and to wish me a happy Mother’s Day. My selfish heart would have normally said thanks and moved on, but the Holy Spirit made me stop and reflect on my amazing friend. I mourned with her for her mother and I anticipated with her for her future child and my heart melted by her ability to rejoice with me on a day that I’m sure is difficult for her. Thank you, Amy, for the article

  36. Carey D May 13, 2014 at 5:41 pm - Reply

    I’ve really enjoyed and been challenged by reading this post, the Mother’s Day post and many of the comments. I want to speak from the perspective of a pastor (a Music and Worship Minister, to be exact) One thing that might give me a little bit of a unique perspective is that I got into church staff ministry in my 40’s — so for much of my adult life, I wasn’t a minister, but rather a “normal” church member (for lack of a better term:-) Here are a few random thoughts:

    1) I would encourage everyone who maybe hasn’t, to always consider that there are unique joys and struggles to being a minister that you are unaware of. Just like I’m sure being a teacher or lawyer has a whole set of “issues” that I can’t personally relate to, church staff ministry became a LOT different to me once I got “on the inside.” I say this, because for some reason, it seems that many have very specific opinions on how pastors should be doing their jobs — sometimes very strong opinions, that are informed by childhood experiences, personal convictions, etc. And while there is always room for God to use laypersons’ wisdom to provide direction/correction for ministers — many times people don’t first take into consideration that their pastor has to consider many, MANY different issues when making decisions that affect the life of their church. Besides politicians:-) — I can’t think of a more scrutinized position than ministers. And I get it — it’s because we deal with a very personal part of people’s lives (their spiritual well-being). Although it’s true that ministers ultimately answer to God alone, many times it feels like we have hundreds of “bosses” who are each critiquing our “job performance.” Don’t get me wrong, my door is always open; and I’m not trying to whine — because God has called me to this, and I know He has equipped me for it — but if I could express to all of you level-headed people (which I’m sure most of you are) the sheer volume of daily complaints and criticisms that we deal with from “everyone else”, you’d be amazed. So, I just wanted to gently remind everyone to remember that your pastor is definitely called to minister to individuals and be sensitive to the needs of the one — but always in the context of an overall vision that he’s been given for the (collective) church. Especially with larger churches, it’s just simply impossible to make a decision that will equally please (or sometimes even benefit) every individual — and that is somewhat of an emotional burden to bear.

    2) Lastly, I want to say that (contrary to what point #1 may have implied) I do enjoy my job and what God has called me to do. Loving and ministering to people is a wonderful privilege that I don’t take for granted — EVEN to those who are disagreeable. I used to stress over the naysayers; but I finally came to realize that some people just thrive off of conflict, it’s simply their modus operandi — and God has called me to minister to and love them as well. After a while God gives you a “6th sense” (or maybe it’s the Holy Spirit:-) about those folks — and you just have to smile and extend the same grace to them that the Lord has extended to me. The vast majority of my church members are very prayerful for and encouraging towards me — and I keep a “smile file” of encouraging letters and e-mails; it’s always uplifting to read them when I’m having a tough day.

    I’m probably starting to ramble — I’m good at that:-) And I’m not sure exactly what point(s) in this discussion I’ve addressed. I just wanted to encourage everyone: Pray for your pastors and let them know that you are. Take the time to encourage them in the good things that you see God doing through them (not to stroke their ego, but to strengthen them on the journey). And finally — Yes, go to your pastors and lovingly express concerns you may have about decisions they’ve made; but always do it with a dose of humility and a sense of understanding of the uniqueness of their job.

Related Posts