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To my husband who supports me in Sunday-morning ministry (and the many people with family members who serve in churches):

I know Sunday mornings are not the peaceful, relaxed times that so many of your friends enjoy.

There are no tranquil Sunday brunches, no sleeping in, no impromptu weekends away at the cottage, few weekends away at all.

We are among the first at church and the last to leave.

For four hours on the day of rest, you run after our toddler while I run around leading other people’s kids. On Sunday mornings, the sacred time most families spend together, you are on full-time parent duty.

You are my go-to last-minute nursery volunteer. You jump in as greeter for newcomers, basketball teammate for children, and server for meals at special events.

You listen and listen and listen as I process what ministry means, as I struggle with the challenges of finding volunteers, of church politics, of trying to get others on board with my vision, of striving to bring growth in a slow-moving, albeit wise, institution.

You didn’t know when you said your vows you’d be signing up for all this—saying no to weekend social events because we are booked every weekend; leaving Saturday night events early because Sunday is my Monday; saying no to vacations during Christmas or Easter; becoming a default volunteer for most activities in our church’s calendar; staying home with the kids several evenings a week because I have to work.

My ministry is in the foreground—the children’s messages, the preaching, the games and teaching and songs and activities. My ministry can be measured and recognized by hours and smiles on faces. I’m the one who gets thank-yous and hugs. Your ministry is in the background, and like so many throughout Scripture, you do the quiet, seldom-recognized work of supporting.

And you do it all willingly. Over and over again you offer to step in. Over and over again you hear my frustrations and joys, my prayers and challenges.

A helpmate. I’ve come to be cautious of this word because of the ways it has been used to limit people’s (particularly women’s) roles. But when I see all you do Sunday after Sunday, I can think of few better words.

I see you, and I see the pastors’ spouses and ministers’ children and families of people in vocational ministry. I know there are thousands of hidden hours you put into our callings. I am so grateful. Thank you for all the work you do to make my work possible.

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