My husband is a pastor. I met him when he was a Seminary student, so his intention to serve Christ and the Church has always been a part of our life, the center of our life, really.
He is rostered to serve in the Lutheran Church – Missouri Synod. An LCMS pastor’s first parish is assigned to him straight from Seminary. After that he is generally available to receive a Call from any of our member congregations, at which time he must choose between the Call he already serves and the Calling congregation.
My husband graduated from Seminary in 2009, and from there he served at a church on Long Island in New York. We lived there for about three years until he received a Call from a church in St. Louis County, Missouri. He chose to accept that Call, and we have lived here for a little over four years.
On the evening of August 7, my husband received a phone call from a Calling congregation in southeast North Dakota. Now this Call could not be more different from the parish my husband currently serves.
In Missouri, we live in a large suburb of a good-sized city, the county and the city comprise of about 1.3 million people. Our congregation is large enough that we have three worship service times. We have a thriving school with about 200 students.
In North Dakota, we would be living in a town with about 650 people, 73 miles from the nearest city. It is a dual parish, which means two small churches that are 6 miles apart. And it has no school. The whole town only has one K-12 public school.
These kinds of decisions are very difficult to make. We had been living very comfortably, making plans for the future here, and then given an opportunity that causes us to rethink everything. I really dislike not knowing what to do, where to go, or when it will happen. Some pastors may take the entire weight of these decisions upon their own shoulders, which is understandable being that they are making a choice about their vocation and occupation, but my husband values my opinion. He would never make me do anything or move somewhere that I don’t want to go.
So we have spent a lot of time researching, talking, not sleeping very well, and agonizing over what we are going to do. Thankfully our children are young enough (9, 7, 5, and 3) that they are really flexible and would be happy to live in either place. I’m sure they don’t quite understand what living 5 hours from the nearest family really means, but my husband and I are just grateful that the kids are flexible and that we homeschool, so that we don’t have to factor those things into the decision too much.
My husband spends his time contemplating the two congregations, analyzing where both ministries are going, and determining his gifts, passions, strengths, and weaknesses and which place he could serve best. He is a very perceptive, analytical, and thoughtful man. He can and will think of all angles during this deliberation process.
I spend my time thinking about how different these two places are, how I spend my time, how I would spend my time, what we would be leaving, what we would be gaining, etc. One thing that I determined early in our marriage was that I am not opposed to living anywhere, and I would go anywhere with my husband. We have a very close and strong relationship, and as long as we are together we will do anything together.
So, ultimately this decision still ends up primarily on my husband’s shoulders, as I am not the pastor. He is. He is the one that must think about which parish needs him in particular the most. I trust him wholeheartedly to make the right decision for our family. And I will gladly stay or go where my husband decides he needs to be.