I sit at my computer with copious notes, a cup of coffee and focused attention. The phone rings. Hoping that the caller is someone who can wait, I glance at the Caller ID and see the number for the preschool. Soon I am back at home with an eight-month-old baby who has a low grade fever. No other symptoms. Just a low grade fever. I bounce sweet Eve on my hip and debate, “Stick her in the play yard and write my sermon?” or “Give her my undivided attention?” While the mental gymnastics ensue, I give her a snack and a dose of Tylenol. I decide that if this is the beginning of her being sick that I should take advantage of her good humor and write that sermon.
Happily, Eve sits in her play yard with a pacifier, blocks and stuffed animals. She coos and chews as I write a manuscript for that Sunday’s sermon. As I ride my rolling chair between the computer desk and Eve’s play yard, I wonder, “Is the church getting enough from me? Is Eve being shortchanged? Am I doing the right thing by supervising a sick child while writing a sermon? Is this enough?”
I think ministers ask this question daily, particularly ministers who are parents. How do you faithfully nurture a child while nurturing a congregation as well? Who comes first and how often? If there’s guilt over being less prepared for a committee meeting or missing a child’s ballgame, how do you find peace? I am eight years into my ministry journey as a parent. I have asked these questions of myself repeatedly because I want to be responsible and faithful to my family as well as to my faith community.
Recently, I sat in worship wondering, “Why am I wrestling two kids while trying to participate in worship?” As I listened to the sermon, I heard the story of the little boy who had “five loaves of barley bread and two little fish.” Jesus had families to feed and just the beginning of an appetizer. As the sermon unfolded, I realized that the little boy took what he had and gave it to Jesus. The disciples placed value on the gift deeming it too small. But neither Jesus nor the boy worried about the size of the gift. Jesus took what was offered and made it enough. This serious intention of giving what I have coupled with Jesus’ miracle of making a small gift enough give me hope for my role as minister and parent. In the weeks since, I have tried to stop judging the size of the gift in my hands. I have tried to stop worrying over waiting until I have more time, more money, or more energy. I am attempting to open my hands and offer my gift and then BELIEVE that Jesus will make it enough.
The duality of genuinely offering your giftedness as a person created in the image of God and the faithful belief that Jesus can perform miracles stimulates hope. Hope that I can nurture both my family and my faith community and release the tension of “Is it enough?” The answer is, “Yes, you are enough.” Open your hands and offer your gift.
Tammy Abee Blom is an ordained Baptist minister, regular contributor to BWIM’s blog, mother of two amazing daughters, teacher for children’s Sunday School, and lives in Columbia, South Carolina.