colorful bowls and plates on a white shelf

A good friend of mine called me several weeks ago and asked if I would speak to a bunch of young pastors about work life balance. My response, I laughed out loud. “Me, are you joking?” Why did I laugh so loudly? Because I have only learned some work life balance because I had to.

Let me explain ..

For most of my pastoring journey I took it on by the horns. I worked at least 60 hours a week, sacrificed time with my husband, my extended family and my friends to serve the church. I was working for Jesus which brought me great joy but it came at a great price. I lived a very unbalanced and unhealthy life.

THEN our world was flipped upside down when my husband and I brought home our daughter, Deepika from India in February 2014. My world as I knew it came to a dead stop as we adjusted to being a family of three!

In May of that same year I returned to pastoring. I tried to learn how to be both a mom and a pastor. While I was doing that, our daughter was trying to find her way. She did not adjust well to being in a family, to Canadian life, to school or to church. We saw her struggle every day. Then this thought came to me (which I believe was from the Holy Spirit), “what is the point if I am a good pastor but a lousy mom?”

That thought changed my life… it changed my thinking… it changed my plans and my future. I resigned from my pastoring position that year and I went from being known as Pastor Karen to being known as Deepika’s Mom. My focus would be helping my child adjust and thrive in her new life. Now, I did get a volunteer gig so I would not lose my mind. But my first priority would be our daughter.

Work Life Balance … forced on me yet so welcomed and so needed.

In January 2017, I returned back to full time pastoral ministry as a lead pastor at an inner city church. How was I going to be a full-time pastor and be a full-time mom? Would I fall back into my habits and work like crazy? Would my daughter suffer from my need to be a good pastor?

With God’s help, I was able to set healthy boundaries. I have learned that I do not have to be at every event. I have overcome that guilt that says “you can’t leave early.” I use different methods to pastor and care for my people. I have confronted my need to be liked and realized that God’s acceptance trumps what other people think. I also get to pastor an awesome church that has welcomed us with all of our challenges and messiness. It has been a wonderful journey.

My last thought ...

Unfortunately, many churches have long praised high productivity, long hours and out of balance dedication. Many pastors’ families have paid a high and unnecessary cost for such values. Our churches should be places where our pastors can be both in ministry and be family people. As leaders, we need to model the proper priorities. I am grateful that God was able to get a hold of me and help me be a mom first, then a pastor. I would not want it any other way. The best title that I can be known for is “Deepika’s Mom.”