How Senior Pastors Can Help Single Mothers in Ministry

Kidsinchurch

By God’s leading, my young family and I are embarking on a major move. We are relocating further South so I can serve in a church in my denomination’s connection. It is an intimidating move for me because I am leaving my comfort zone and my family members who help me with my children. I am a widow with two toddlers. One of the questions I’ve raised to the Lord is how I am going to participate in the multiple meetings, conferences, church activities, and serve as a single mother. Of course, the Lord is affirming and encouraging me that I will not be alone when I get there. He keeps telling me I will have help.

As a result of reflecting on all the issues single mothers in ministry face, I’ve come up with a few ways senior pastors can better help us so we can effectively support the vision and mission of the church.

Please be understanding.

Proverbs 4:7 says, “The beginning of wisdom is this: Get wisdom. Though it cost all you have, get understanding” (NIV). Sadly, there are pastors who do not understand the challenges of single parenthood. I have a ministerial colleague who was publicly reprimanded by her pastor for not sitting in the front of the church after she had a baby. The baby was less than six months old and my friend didn’t want to disrupt the service by breastfeeding or getting up for diaper changes – not to mention if the baby started crying.

Yes, there are times when we can find a suitable babysitter, but there are also times when we cannot find one. Please be understanding if we cannot make every event or if we have to bring our children to the services or the staff meetings.

Please ask us if we need help.

It takes a lot to pastor a church. It is a major balancing act between managing your personal life, sometimes professional life, and church affairs. We know senior pastors are not supermen and women and cannot know everything, but please ask us if we need help sometimes if you sense we are struggling. There are many times when I am struggling trying to manage everything by myself including my involvement in ministry, but I don’t want to burden my pastor with my problems. However, there are some times when I do need input and prayer from someone who is more seasoned in ministry than me. Be sensitive to the ministers on staff and reach out to them if you see they are having problems managing it all. A short prayer with your pastor can go a long way!

Let the children come.

Everyone doesn’t like children or have the grace to deal with small children, but Jesus encouraged the disciples to let the children come because the Kingdom of God belongs to them too (Matthew 19:14). In the same way, allow your single ministers to bring the children to some meetings and events. Of course, the parents should remove the children if they become disruptive, but just knowing that the senior pastor is open to the children coming takes a lot of stress off many of us!

Consider opening the nursery.

We have a lot of meetings and conferences in my denomination and a nursery is not always available. We understand there are staffing issues and concerns, but please consider opening the nursery for an event or meeting if your ministerial staff’s presence is absolutely mandatory. It helps us single mothers greatly if we know our children are somewhere safe and we can better serve the people of God.

These are just a few suggestions. What are your thoughts? Should single parenting disqualify a person from ministry for a season?

Lauren Jones (@revlaurelj) is an Itinerant Elder in the African Methodist Episcopal Church and serves in the Columbia, SC metropolitan area. As a widow, she balances ministry and motherhood to two rambunctious children. She blogs about her adventures at www.throwupandtheology.com. When she’s not preaching, writing, or changing diapers, she raises awareness about epilepsy and the devastating effects of drunk driving as a volunteer speaker for Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD). She self-published “I’m Singing This Song to You,” a letter to her children in honor of her late husband available for purchase on Amazon.

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