Friday, February 19, 2010

Lessons on Stepparenting from my "Step-Pastor"

This May I will have the awesome opportunity to go “home” to my former church, direct my old choir and fellowship with some of the saints who had much to do with my spiritual walk today. I am positive that I would not have had the foundation I have today, had it not been for them and I am eternally grateful. I am SO excited about the possibilities and the mandate of evangelism and creativity that we have been given by the current pastor. Although I no longer worship with them…they will always be home. That’s just the way it is. Home is always Home. The current Pastor in an email exchange referred to himself jokingly as my “step-pastor”. It was hilarious, but in a sense accurate. He wasn’t my Pastor, but for a season he is playing a pastoral role in my life. I refer to him as pastor. I defer to him and his decisions because of his position.

All of a sudden, I had a glimpse of step-parenting from another perspective, the child’s. I understand the importance of the level of respect that is given because of a person position not their personality. I also understand the thin line between honoring your step parent at the expense of your current one. Although I am not in leadership at my current church and I have no responsibility in ministry there, because he is my pastor, I give him respect. However, my current pastor, his way of doing things or his perspective has no bearing or authority at my “step-pastor’s” church.

In a stepfamily you have be mindful that there are many sets of rules at play. They way “they” did things… The way “we” did things… The way mom did this, the way dad handled that.. All of those processes may have been “ok” for the previous family or former relationships, but in a Stepfamily all new rules apply. Because of the new covenant between the spouses, the rules, the guidelines, the opinions, the methods, the ideology of previous spouses or family members are null and void. When I am at my home church my “step pastor” is in charge. I have been taught to respect authority and understand fully the backlash if you do not. When I am operating at my current church home, my pastor is in charge and the things that I did at my home church are no longer applicable.

This is a difficult lesson to re-teach children and it puts step-parents in an awkward role. You wouldn’t believe the horrible, mean and demeaning things that are said or written about stepparents, myself included. Usually its because the child wants to operate in the current home, they way they did in the former home. Parents have to be adamant about the new processes of their current family. Teach the children to respect their outside parents, but remind them that those people and their way of thinking, living, acting, responding or being has no place of authority in your home. Pray for wisdom for the "sticky" parts...and God will hear and answer prayer.

1 comment:

Pastor Joyce said...

This is an absolutely terrific article. I laughed at the "step-pastor" reference. It's so fitting of the situation and made a great springboard for the rest of the discussion. What was most intriguing to me was your last statement:

Teach the children to respect their outside parents, but remind them that those people and their way of thinking, living, acting, responding or being has no place of authority in your home.

Without question, the former spouses have no authority in the new family constellation. However, they should still have parental input into how their children are reared. After all, former spouses have terminated their marital bond, not their parental bond. In fact, they are not "outside parents", but non-custodial parents and there is a difference. Referring to them as "outside parents" sets up an adversarial dynamic of "us vs. them". Children, feeling love and loyalty to that "outside parent", will act out in demonstration that "blood is thicker than water".

The process of communication, negotiation, and compromise will stretch and strengthen all involved. Without doubt, the "wisdom of Solomon" is required so the children are best served in BOTH homes.