The Revs. Willie and Joanne Jennings depart after their 1987 wedding.
Today, he is senior associate dean for academic programs at Duke
Divinity School, and she is an associate pastor and a marriage and
family therapist in Durham, N.C. A UMNS photo courtesy of Divinity
magazine, Photo number 04-136, Accompanies UMNS #140, 3/30/04
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."
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 the UMNS story "Ministry presents benefits, challenges, for clergy couples.")
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?
Make a date and gaze into one another's eyes. Language is way overrated.
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.
your devotional life and spiritual disciplines. The life of a clergy
couple can be a breeding ground for anemic spiritual practices.
Laugh together as often as possible.
Find healthy ways to relieve stress.
all forms of comparison (preaching, teaching, counseling) and never
give your spouse "constructive criticism" immediately after a sermon.
Have mercy on your children - remember, they are "double-PKs" (preacher's kids).
Before you pray for anyone else, pray for your spouse.
Remember, you said, "I do."
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.'"
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. News media can contact Linda Green at (615)
742-5470 or firstname.lastname@example.org.