With the first week of summer came a sick child (on his birthday), major computer problems and tornadoes and thunderstorms to disrupt all plans of fun and sun. But thankfully yesterday, June 1st ushered in sun, a day at the pool and a neighborhood carnival. But the real kick-off, not just to summer, but to a new chapter for our church was welcoming to town our new Assistant Pastor Clay and his wife Monique.
There are many reasons we are excited to have them join us, but let me first give you some background. Rewind back to 2003 and the years thereafter when my husband was a campus minister at Baylor University and Clay and Monique where college students a part of the ministry.
Monique babysat for our kids. My husband and Clay spent time together in a Bible study and playing the occasional golf game. The two of them dated. And then they didn’t…
They both spent time in our living room, separately, “counseling”. We knew they were meant to be together; they just didn’t see it yet. Until one day, my husband finagled a way to get them talking again. That part is now history. My husband married them in 2008.
Since then Clay started seminary and they had baby. But all plans were quickly put on hold when Clay was diagnosed with Stage 4 Large Cell B Lymphoma (which is a non-Hodgkins form of the cancer) and sought treatment at MD Anderson in Houston. With a one-month old baby, who he couldn’t be around because of germs, Monique had to navigate being a new mom alone (with lots of good grandparent help), while also caring for a sick husband.
Fast-forward back to today, just a couple years later… Clay is healthy and the plan we hoped for but weren’t sure would pan out did! Clay just graduated last month from seminary and is now our church’s new Assistant Pastor. What a huge blessing and saving grace to my husband.
Being a pastor is a hard and lonely job. There is a heavy burden that comes with preaching the Word of God week after week and ministering to broken people, many times in crisis because of sin or circumstances. It’s a burden that never leaves you at the end of the day or the weekend and it weighs down your soul. It effects a pastor and his family personally. And it’s not things we are free to share.
This is the case for pastors, generally, but in our situation starting a new church (a church-plant) brings on an entire additional set of stresses… because the church-planter/pastor runs a one-man show!
You don’t have administrative assistants, other pastors to handle counseling, worship, music, programs, curriculum, missions, etc. A senior pastor’s calling is to preach and teach yet by default he has to handle all these other areas that may or may not be in his giftedness. Either way it is things that take him away from his primary calling.
This is where Clay comes in. A welcome relief and help! Someone else to share the load, to take on some of the burden. Someone else to help move us forward in the life of our church. This is so exciting for our church!
And it is so exciting for my husband! To see him rest knowing he has a partner in someone who is already a best friend. Someone who he feels safe with and trusts completely. And for me, too, to have a close friend and comrade in the trenches of what life in vocational ministry looks like for a family. And to bring it really full circle, for our daughter to now babysit their child!
Welcome Wootens! Praise be to God for things He has done and will continue to do in and through YOU!
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