From the Worldwide Faith News archives

A clergy couple survival guide

From "NewsDesk" <NewsDesk@UMCOM.ORG>
Date Tue, 30 Mar 2004 12:19:31 -0600

March 30, 2004 News media contact: Linda Green 7 (615)742-5470 7 Nashville,
Tenn. 7 E-mail: 7 ALL{141}

NOTE: This article is a sidebar to UMNS story #140.  Photos are available at

By Elisabeth Stagg*

DURHAM, N.C. (UMNS) - Two clergy couples who know about the challenges of
balancing ministry careers say an important tip in surviving is to remember
that you said, "I do."

The Revs. Susan Pendleton and L. Gregory Jones and the Revs. Joanne and
Willie Jennings, all either on staff at Duke Divinity School or serving in
local ministry, provide clergy couples with several survival tips to make
their ministries - and lives - flourish. (Additional suggestions also come
from clergy couples quoted in UMNS story #140.)

7	Acknowledge that someone's career must take precedence. Consider
alternating moves to accommodate her and his ministry. Will you both work
full time? Part time? Together? What about when you have children?
7	Make a date and gaze into one another's eyes. Language is way
7	Invest in child care or whatever help will make life easier. Don't
worry so much about the cost; the benefit to the family is priceless.
7	Preserve your devotional life and spiritual disciplines. The life of
a clergy couple can be a breeding ground for anemic spiritual practices.
7	Laugh together as often as possible.
7	Find healthy ways to relieve stress. 
7	Shun all forms of comparison (preaching, teaching, counseling) and
never give your spouse "constructive criticism" immediately after a sermon. 
7	Have mercy on your children - remember, they are "double-PKs"
(preacher's kids).
7	Before you pray for anyone else, pray for your spouse.
7	Remember, you said, "I do."

"As clergy, we can't turn off theology in the way that some couples can turn
off careers in medicine or law or business," adds Susan Jones, director of
special programs at the divinity school. "Remember, as Toni Morrison puts it:
'It's great when you have a woman (man) who's a friend of your mind.'"

# # #

*This story was adapted from an article that originally appeared in Winter
2004 Divinity, the alumni magazine of Duke Divinity School. Stagg is the
magazine's editor and the school's associate director of communications. 


United Methodist News Service
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