by Danielle Christy
Most people have been pregnant with an idea and one that is especially close to them that takes time to develop and come about. As a children’s pastor I have found myself pregnant with ideas many times but this time not only am I pregnant with ideas but also with a baby. In fact, I am a pregnant pastor.
My husband and I have been married for 4 years and this is our second pregnancy, but our first with me being a full-time pastor. Being a pastor can be challenging on its own and other times it can be very rewarding. When you add in the challenges and rewards of a growing family into the mix, it heightens everything. Through this growing season in my life I want to share some of the challenges, rewards, and lessons God has taught me on this journey.
1. God has blessed me with this ministry, this baby and this is the season He has me in. Throughout any season in our lives, amidst any mountains or valleys, we need to continue to push ourselves to listen to God’s voice. Sometimes the voices around us can be discouraging. Voices from Church can lead us to think we aren’t the pastor we should be. Voices from home can lead us to think we aren’t the spouse or parent we should be. Each of these can lead us to doubt who we are and where we should be. But in those dark times we need to remember what God told us in the light. We need to remember that He is the one who gives and He is the one who takes away. And above all we need to remember and listen to where He is guiding and leading us, in both our ministries and our families.
2. The kids in your ministry do care about you and do pray for you. Around week 17 of my pregnancy we were nearing our ultrasound date. At that appointment we were going to find out the baby’s gender but we were also going to find out if the baby had any genetic defects. Both my family and my husband’s had enough hereditary genetic disorders that we were concerned. The Sunday before our appointment, in our first service, I went to one of our elder couples for prayer over the situation. During our second service I was teaching Kidz Church, Kindergarten through 5th grade. I started out, as usual, taking the kids prayer requests and praying for the group. One of our 2nd graders raised his hand and gave his request. He said, “I want to pray that your baby has no genetic defects.” After pulling my jaw closed from awe and wonder, as there was no way he knew the prayer request on my heart, we prayed as a group. At the end of the week our appointment confirmed the baby was exactly on target and perfectly healthy. It continued to leave me in awe that God would use one of my kids to pray for me as I had prayed for him.
3. Delegate because you can’t do everything! Through this season of being a pregnant pastor I am realizing how important it is to have a team of people help you in ministry. In this season I am forced to rely on others because I do not have the time or energy to do everything myself. If we look back to the times where Jesus was training His disciples, He always sent them out in groups of at least two. We need to follow the same example in our own ministries. Does it always work? No. Sometimes we delegate only to find those things back on our plate. But if we never delegate or ask for help we are cheating ourselves and our ministry. We are cheating the people around us, who have been gifted in certain areas, from being able to use those gifts. We are also pushing ourselves toward a burn-out point we never need to reach. I am learning that there are people around me who are more valuable than I give them credit for. I am also learning that only a small percentage of volunteers will take on more responsibility on their own, but that percentage grows considerably when you ask them personally.
4. Slow Down! In Genesis we find that God, Himself, rested after creating the entire universe and everything in it. In the Gospels we find that Jesus would retreat and spend alone time with God. If both God and Jesus made rest a priority, why do we consider ourselves to be any different? Instead, we need to realize that our need for rest is great and we need to follow their model. In this pregnant pastor phase of my life, I am forced to slow down. When I pretend to be the superhero I am not, my body reminds me. So to try to prevent those moments I am learning to take advantage of my days off, not to catch up on everything, but to truly rest. As pastors we minister to those around us out of our overflow. When we have not rested and refueled with God we have no overflow to minister out of.
5. Your family needs to be more important than your ministry. As children’s pastors our goal is always to minister and reach out to children and their parents. We want to continue to disciple them and teach them of Christ’s love. But for those of us who are children’s pastors and parents we need to watch the line of reaching and teaching other children at the cost of neglecting our own. We need to intentionally consider how many nights we are away from them, or who watches them while we’re at summer camp, and make sure we are making our own children’s recitals and games as much of a priority as everyone else’s? Being pregnant Â it has boiled down to am I doing too much for others and not taking the time to rest so my baby can grow in a stress-free environment? As parents and pastors, pregnant or not, we need to be aware of the effects our ministry has on all of our own children, outside and inside the womb.
Being a pregnant pastor has had it’s up’s and down’s, it has opened some doors with people and closed others, as all life stages can in ministry. Being pregnant in ministry, the ups and downs can feel lonely at times. Ministry in and of itself can be a lonely place. However, the truth is, whatever stage we are going through we are not the first nor will we be the last, but we can learn from and lean on each other through each of life’s stages.
Danielle has been a children’s pastor for 4 and a half years, over 2 of them being in Massachusettes. She is a wife of four years, a mother to a 2 year old daughter, and is expecting a little boy in October. She also has her bachelor’s degree in children’s ministry from Valley Forge Christian College.