In July, I spent four Sundays as the interim pastor for the church where we are members. My pastor was on a month long sabbatical leave. I was nervous and excited as the month approached. Will I have enough time to prepare sermons? Will my son feel neglected? Will I feel guilty about not spending more time with him?
I have chosen to stay home with my son for the this time in his life. It is an intentional decision based on many different things. I have loved it (most of the time) and found out more about myself through this process. However, I also know that I love ministry. I want to continue to be a minister while I am a mother to my son. For years, I have told women they could do both. I have witnessed some great models in motherhood and ministry. But, when the time came for me to do it myself, I had doubts.
As I reflect upon the month, I realize July zipped by so quickly. It was a fun month of preaching and getting to know a congregation I am already learning to love. I was humbled by how quickly folks shared their stories with me. I loved how God used each worship service in unique ways to help us think about rest and renewal in our lives. I enjoyed walking with this congregation as we prayed for our pastor’s time away.
The really fun part was watching my son. He had no idea that his mom had accepted more responsibilities at church. What he did learn was that there were a whole hosts of people ready to play with him on Sunday mornings. He loved having extra play dates with everyone from the preschool minister to the building supervisor. One of my favorite memories was of one morning at staff meeting when I didn’t have childcare for him. We brought a walker up from the nursery and he played but decided that during prayer time. He laughed and called out while we were bringing our requests before God. Momentarily I was slightly embarrassed, but two of the ministers graciously said, “This isn’t the first time children have been with us for staff meeting and it makes it more fun!” At the end of prayer time, our staff was dismissed while the ministers stayed to discuss Sunday’s service, the building supervisor held out his arms and my son jumped into them. Mr. Charlie took Parker for a tour of the church, to play with the ladies in the office, and to find some extra toys. They all took turns playing with him and he didn’t seem to miss me for a moment. He came back to me with a smile across his face.
While I was pastoring the congregation, my son had a chance to see what God looks like– in all the people who helped me care for him. He saw love, laughter, kindness, creativity, and fun. All a few of my favorite parts of the Divine.
I don’t know what the future holds for us but, I am grateful for the moments we had to learn something new in July. May my son and I both continue to be amazed at the ways God reveals God self to us each day. Amen.
LeAnn Gunter Johns has served on church staffs in Georgia and California. Now living in Macon, Georgia, she is busy writing, preaching, and enjoying her husband, Barry, and son, Parker. (This post is from LeAnn’s blog “Waking Up Somewhere Else.”