DMINLGP

DMin, Leadership and Global Perspectives: Crafting Ministry in an Interconnected World

No lunch today

Written by: on May 31, 2019

It is finished. I made it. Another school year has come to an end in the Davis house. Since both my husband and I work in higher education while we parent 3 sons, May is full of triumphs and failures. I attend commencements, board meetings, banquets, pinning ceremonies, commissioning, award ceremonies, field days, sports banquets, concerts, productions…and the list goes on. I also become keenly aware of my humanity when I double-book events on my calendar, forget to pack a sack lunch for the days after the school lunch ends, arrive late to the elementary awards night, and run out of time to go to the grocery store. The last few weeks have been a sprint to the finish.

Last week, my mothering was especially less-than-average. After days full of “important” meetings at work, and the completion of commencement, I received an email from my 2nd grader’s teacher (see picture). Lincoln did not have lunch and apparently hadn’t had one for days since Lunchables are what the school gives children when they do not have their own. When I asked Lincoln about this he said, “Yeah, school lunch ended last week. It’s ok. I know you are busy.”

My mother-heart was broken. I had failed to take care of the most basic need of my little boy. In the business of my calendar, I had neglected to feed him. I’m sure it goes without saying…we immediately went out for ice cream.

In What Clergy Do, Emma Percy uses this beautiful analogy of mothering in comparison to the work of the parish clergy. With a careful effort to not take the comparison to the extreme, she offers a picture of spiritual leadership that tends to the needs of the parish through service, worship, and hospitality.[1] She compared her responsibility to keep her fridge full of food at home to the responsibility of spiritual feeding in the parish:

Parish priests have primary responsibility for ensuring that the worship, teaching and preaching within the church feeds people adequately so that they can live out authentic Christian lives in the world.[2]

In chapter seven, she goes on to explain that priests should give their time to ensure people are adequately fed through spiritual food of word and sacrament. Her main focus in this chapter is the weekend experience, explaining that the priest should offer a spiritual meal to sustain parishioners through their week.[3] Percy’s charge to priests gave me pause as I reflect on my own life and ministry.

In this fast-paced, productivity-obsessed world, am I giving rightful priority to the feeding of those under my spiritual care? Am I so preoccupied with peripheral issues, administrative responsibilities and putting out fires that I fail to take the time to prepare an adequate “meal?”

Percy (along with Lincoln’s teacher) challenges me to, once again, reprioritize my activity. Those in my care deserve a leader who is taking time to ensure they are receiving what they need to grow and flourish. My hope is that the time I invest in preparation now will lead them to a place where they can feed themselves.

_________________________

[1] Emma Percy, What Clergy Do: Especially When It Looks like Nothing, 2014, 127.

[2] Ibid, 134.

[3] Though I agree that the corporate experience is important, especially in terms of sacrament, I also identified with her explanation earlier in this chapter that it is the responsibility of the priest to steward a learning environment in which parishioners grow and mature, learning to feed themselves as well.

 

About the Author

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Rhonda Davis

Rhonda is passionate about loving her Creator, her wonderful husband, and her three amazing sons. She serves as VP of Enrollment Management & Student Development at The King's University in Southlake, TX.

7 responses to “No lunch today”

  1. Mario Hood says:

    Great post Rhonda and we all as parents have done it before so don’t be too hard on yourself.

    I am curious as I was reading the book and then your post, at one point in the circles I run in (and you to a similar degree) the popular saying was “You don’t come to church to get fed, you come to worship”. Basically meaning you are spiritual immature if you can’t read your people and feed yourself. While I understand what people mean by this, this book also sheds light on the responsibility of spiritual leaders to feed the sheep.

    • mm Rhonda Davis says:

      Thanks, Mario. Similar to parenting, I know the ultimate goal is to nurture mature believers who are able to feed themselves. However, I agree with Percy’s challenge to ensure that ministers do not get so sidetracked with the trappings of leadership that we fail to provide the proper nurturing of those in our spiritual care. It seems to me that, especially in the circles we run in, as we have come to know church more as “organization,” some of these pastoral responsibilities are fading into the background of a packed calendar. Do you find this to be true?

  2. mm Harry Fritzenschaft says:

    Rhonda,
    Congrats to you and your husband for getting to the end of another school year! May you and your family have a blessed summer of renewal. I am glad you connected with Percy’s analogy of mothering to parish ministry. May the analogy of mothering lead you and guide you in your leadership in higher education as well as your children. May you also relax and be blessed, and using Percy’s parameter, to be “good enough.” Thanks again for your post and many blessings, H

    • mm Rhonda Davis says:

      Thank you, Harry. There is much to glean from Percy. I know I will be unpacking more of this analogy in the days to come.

  3. mm Karen Rouggly says:

    This is good and hits home – school lunches are the bane of my existence and I only have 3 to go! 🙂

    Thanks for your post. I think it’s a good reminder to all of us to slow down and take stock of what’s most important. Thanks!

  4. mm Mary Mims says:

    Rhonda, working with children, I feel your pain. Thank you for the reminder that we need to prioritize the feeding of our charges with the Word to sustain them for the journey ahead. Glad your son was so understanding and glad you remember that ice cream solves everything.

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