Being part of a clergy family comes with a unique set of joys and challenges.
While we’ve heard that many clergy spouses feel a unity of purpose with their husband or wife, identify with their spouse’s work, and experience their own calling from God, they also face feelings of isolation, high expectations from congregants, a lack of barriers and sacredness of family time, and ambiguity of their role and identity.
Being a preacher’s kid isn’t easy either. They too are under a great deal of pressure to be “perfect” and must learn to accept the long and often hectic hours that their parent works.
That’s all a lot to manage, and resources on how to do it well are scarce. But one that is particularly well done is the Florida Conference’s Thrival Kit.
The Thrival Kit is a kind of survival guide on how to thrive as a pastor (single or married), clergy spouse, or family in the United Methodist Church. It offers a wealth of useful resources, information, and commentary on topics such as:
- The appointment system
- Family dynamics and the ministry
- Wellness and wholeness
- Where to turn for help
- Pensions and benefits
- Where to find other useful resources
One aspect of the Thrival Kit that I find to be unique and especially helpful is the inclusion of stories and insightful advice from actual pastors and spouses. For example, on her list of “Survival Tips from Our House,” one pastor writes, “We are not supposed to save the world—Jesus already did that. Pray, rest, play, and enjoy each other. Ministry is an important part of your life and your identity—but it is not everything.”
A common theme in the Thrival Kit is an emphasis on the importance of self-care and balance, both personally and professionally.
In the section on wellness and wholeness, the authors write that balancing our spiritual, emotional, and physical health, “offers an opportunity for us to receive and experience all the goodness, which our Lord wants for us.”
They offer suggestions on ways for readers to pursue this delicate balance by providing information on resources that can help: low-cost vacation and retreat options for individuals, families, children, or couples (some of which are in or near North Carolina); continuing education; counseling for children, clergy, spouses, or couples who plan to divorce; health initiatives; and more.
While the Thrival Kit was put together by the Florida Conference, most of its content is relevant and helpful for all clergy families regardless of their denomination or location. I strongly recommend taking even a few minutes to skim through the pages of this guide. I think you will find it a pleasurable and enlightening read. Enjoy!