In the Meantime,
I am going remote. For the next two weeks I will be back in Michigan to get my hair cut, my teeth cleaned, close on a mortgage refi, weed my yard, and (oh yes) see my family. I will be at work, but from a distance. Before Covid most interim ministers were truly peripatetic. They moved every two years. I have not done this, choosing to live here most of the time and be back in Michigan some of the time.
This was easy during the height of the pandemic. Many interims did all their work remotely, including one colleague who served Edmonton AB from an office in Virginia. But for me the rhythms of life are best felt in person, so I chose to be here even when most others did not. And that was a good decision for me.
But it is taking a toll as well. Wherever I am, I am partly somewhere else. Notwithstanding daily phone calls and weekly zooms I am missing the richness of daily life with those closest to me. And when in Michigan, time zones and family mean I have to work harder at being your minister. Am I tired?
Why tell you this? Because even before Covid and interim life, the clergy world is one of divided hearts and lives. We do this work because of the love not the money, for the privilege of being included in your lives. And yet, if we do that and neglect our personal lives and families we are bound to serve our congregations poorly.
You need your clergyperson to be sane and strong and sure. Which means allowing them to be human without risking their jobs. Yes, it is their responsibility to tend to that but it is your responsibility to support that. The temptation to be super pastor is very real in all of us, and the risks of attempting that are equally real. More than a few colleagues have crashed on those rocks and then nursing their wounds unwisely. Let them know humility is of greater value to you than excellence.
Thank you for allowing that of me – to be both Fred and your minister in these peculiar times. I implore you to extend that generosity to your next spiritual leader. You will both be the better for it. – FW –