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The Preacher's Husband

notes from a clergy-hubby

Category Archives: The Preacher

Come on over to "The Life-Charged Life"

Click on the picture at right to check in with the new location. This blog is now sharing space and content with “The Life-Charged Life.” It turns out the life of “The Preacher’s Husband” (AKA “Clergy-Hubby”) is a life-charged life. It makes no sense to post in two places when the one will do.

See you over at “The Life-Charged Life: a journal of living like we mean it.

God’s rich blessings – DEREK

PS – check the bookstores for my latest books

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OK, friends, the jury is in. By acclamation, an overwhelming vote, and 100% of responders… This blog is going to merge with my daily blog – “The Life-Charged Life”. I will – for the time being – continue to use this “Clergy-Hubby” site, but the content will be the same as “The Life-Charged Life.”

Take today’s post, for example – it could have ended up in either location. So:

  • Read
  • Enjoy
  • Let me know what you think
  • Pass this address on to others
– DEREK

Church as it happens - this Sunday

My publisher is always telling me I need to be “cutting edge” in my use of social media.

  • That’s how I got into blogging, and I appreciate the nudge Upper Room Books gave me to get my “on-line journal” going.
  • It’s also why I’m on facebook. Again, I’m glad I’m involved, and I value the way it keeps me in touch with so many people.
  • I TWEET too – although really I’m not sure what I’m doing and 90% of the time my Tweets are little more than an invitation to read my blog. I’ve been told people want to read any snippits of pithy, humorous or informative information I’m willing to put out there – but thus far I’m not locking in on the medium.

But, yesterday, I think I may have gotten a handle on the  Tweet idea – even though my “Aha!” moment came in retrospect and I didn’t actually Tweet a thing.

Kids' Moment with Karen Weber

Here’s what happened. We had a baptism at fpcBrandon. A young couple, active in our church, brought their infant son and it was one of those deeply moving occasions. So I grabbed my Android and snapped a couple of pictures. Then I thought, “Why not post this on facebook in real time?” So I did. I labelled the post “Church as it Happens.”

I enjoyed the concept of Church-as-it-Happens so much that I posted a series of pictures, with comments, in real time during the morning. It felt awkward to be “playing with my phone” so much during worship, and I did get a couple of sharp elbows from the preacher, but I do believe it was worthwhile.

Lots of children at 8:30 service

That evening I talked with a friend who had picked up the facebook posts. She told me what I had done was a “made for Twitter” thing, tweets – apparently – are more “stream of consciousness.” To be honest I’m still not sure that I’m going to do that much on Twitter, because I have a hard time remaining in any way detached from the event I’m participating in – plus part of me can’t get away from the idea that “It’s rude to be on your phone” when participating in any kind of a public event…..

IMMEDIACY: I think what intrigues me most about this whole conversation is the immediacy. Of course, it’s also true that nothing is quite so immediate as actually being there! Point taken. But, I don’t believe the church-as-it-happens concept is about providing an alternative to showing up. I think it’s about taking some of what is real and engaging and transformational about Sunday morning at fpcBrandon and holding it out there as a kind of invitation.

Go in Peace - Rebekah

Let’s face it, the vast majority of people don’t even have public worship on their radar. So this is not about giving anyone an easy out, it’s about offering the beginnings of an easy in. Social media is crawling with the raw evidence of life without committed faith. I believe it’s time that – without judgment or anything other than love – more evidence of the truth of the Gospel message finds its way into the mix.

It’s time that – without judgment or anything other than love – we tell the story and we tell it right.

– DEREK

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I love taking pictures of people having their picture taken!

– Photos taken, by me, during Rebekah’s official “staff-photo” shoot yesterday.

Ah, it’s “Picture Directory” time again. People have been in and out of the church all day every day this week, sticking their heads in the preacher’s office, chatting up and down the halls, pretty-much grinding day-to-day operations to a halt. But it’s all good, because when else can Rebekah fit in dozens of quality pastoral visits per day for an entire week?

So 3:00 was our turn in front of the camera. A few people asked us why Andrew and Naomi weren’t going to be in the picture with us! Seriously? They haven’t lived here in years! Then a few others said they don’t like doing these directories because their mug-shots always look so different from the time before….

"The Preacher" circa 1997

Personally, I think we all look just fine. This will be the third go-round at this church and the first since the kids left home. But I’m OK with the passage of time. We are who we are, and there are plenty of younger families in the church now who have joined since the last directory was produced.

So I stole a few “behind the scenes” photographs while Rebekah was having her staff head-shot taken. Then I pulled out some pics from when we first moved here (see left). In my humble opinion, The Preacher continues to look better every year.

My favorite preacher!

And, if aging a decade and a half at First Presbyterian of Brandon adds up to:

  • Increasing in beauty…
  • 15 years of additional wisdom…
  • Finely tuned preaching skills…
  • Developing a cutting-edge staff…
  • Plus all this experience as senior pastor at a vibrant faith community…

…Then I’d have to say, “Bring on the next decade, because the best is yet to come!”

I’m looking forward to it – and to the next church picture directory – DEREK

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Now that's a great-looking collection of church staff (minus Earl, parish associate)

Did I ever mention the “utilitarian” function of the preacher’s husband? I’m sure I did. We’ve already discussed the pure joy found via freedom from stereotypical “Preacher’s Wife” expectations. The church is pretty-much happy I even show up, and that’s wonderful! But then, over time (and especially if you do show up on a regular basis), people will eventually find out what your particular skill set is and – Bingo! – you’re busy.

Hence the designation of “utility player.” I’ve confessed before in this space how much I enjoy photography, so I shouldn’t have been surprised when I was asked to shoot the church staff for the new directory. Fortunately it was an easy assignment, as we have a naturally photogenic group who A) do not suffer from vanity, B) are cooperative and C) get along well.

Don (left) and Mark run our music ministry

So I thought I’d share the results in this week’s “Clergy-Hubby” post. I’ll start with the music guys. Mark is music director. He plays the pipe organ beautifully, he directs our most excellent choir, he leads a top-notch handbell ensemble, and he plays piano for the Praise Band; he is also an accomplished trombonist and puts together an occasional low-brass choir that makes truly remarkable music. Everything he touches is enhanced by his grace and quiet faith.

Don (who also plays trombone in the Florida Orchestra) is in charge of the Praise Team. Every week he crafts a multi-layered sound from a surprisingly talented band composed of guitars, brass, woodwinds, percussion and keyboard. Don brings a deep spiritual sensitivity and cutting edge musicality that is the perfect accompaniment for worship.

Steve and Debbie handle facilities

Next we have Steve and Debbie. Steve is facilities manager. Believe me, that’s no small assignment in a rambling set of  buildings that have been stitched together over 50 years. This year, or course, we’re in the process of updating the physical plant and pretty-much doubling our usable space. The other side of that coin is Debbie, who gets to keep it all clean and ready for whatever is going on. Between them (and with the help of God) miracles occur on a daily basis!

The next grouping is the office staff. I don’t have space here to begin to do them justice. Joyce (front right) is our office manager; or, as Rebekah often says, “The Boss.” How critically important is Joyce? Well, let’s just say that, sometimes, I have to buy her chocolate… really expensive chocolate. Yeah, that’s how it is!

Did the office staff coordinate their outfits for today's photo? Sure looks like they did....

Kathy (front left) wears two hats. She is pre-school director for probably the best program in Brandon. Then, having filled the church with love and light and enthusiastic two, three and four-year-olds all morning, she spends the afternoon bringing her positive energy to the front office. Tisa (back right) is the first warm greeting for those who walk in or call, and has revolutionized the church web page at www.fpcbrandon.org. Andy (middle) and Sue work magic with money and accounting and payroll and receipts and a thousand details I couldn’t follow if they explained it to me all day. They are all awesome folk who make the work of ministry at First Presbyterian possible via their faithful service.

Kelly and Lynn, our youth are in good hands!

I didn’t get to photograph our Youth Director, Kelly, other than the group picture (center back, dark hair). But I did capture this fun image last night at the staff party (we party a lot) at our house, when the mantle was officially passed from Lynn. Lynn ran the youth program for nine years, covering our young people with a quality of love and encouragement that is legend around here. This may not be the “official” portrait, but I believe it captures the spirit and the passion they both share.

Tim and Rebekah: "ridiculously good" ministers. Earl - our parish associate - makes three.

Last but not least, Rebekah and Tim. There’s not enough space, but I think a quote from one of our Sunday school teachers fits best here. A week ago, Tim was teaching a discipleship ministry workshop for educators and small group leaders. He handed out some material that described several important factors in making church work. After a while, one of the teachers raised her hand.

“When I read about the qualities people look for in the ideal church setting,” she said, “the first thing that came to my mind was, We have ridiculously good ministers at this church….”

Nice one, Sandy – “Ridiculously Good” it is. But then I could say the same about the rest of the staff, too.

Peace and Blessings – DEREK

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Children leafing through their new treasures while one more comes forward

Sometime, being “The Preacher’s Husband” means being ready to respond to requests (made during the first hymn) such as, “Derek! My camera is at the bottom of my purse – I think – under the desk back in my office. Can you get some pictures of the kids getting their Bibles?”

And so it’s walk – with dignity – out of the sanctuary; run – as fast as I can – to Rebekah’s office; dig – frantically – for the camera; run – super-fast – down the hall again; ease into church – casually – trying not to pant loudly from being out of breath; take a few photos – unobtrusively; return to seat – gratefully.

"God's Word for you!" This is good stuff!

Of course I should have been prepared and with my own camera, because it was Christian Education Rally Day after all, and it’s no secret that handing out Bibles to the rising 2nd-graders is just about Rebekah’s most favorite thing in the whole church calendar. But I’ve been trying hard not to be “The Paparazzi” or, as our son Andrew says with characteristic lack of political correctness, “Dad, when are you going to stop being a Japanese tourist all the time?”

However, and I know you’re wondering, I did manage to get a few good pics. It really is a wonderful moment when a bunch of seven-year-olds come forward, one at a time, and stand mesmerized as Rebekah offers each individual child their own special word of encouragement before handing them the life-charged text.

Sam Sutherland encouraging the children to be "Imitators of Christ"

Later, Sam Sutherland did his classic Children’s-Moment story about “The Tater Family”, sharing with the kids how important it is – if we’re going to be any kind of a Tater at all, to be an “Imi-Tater” of Christ.

Sam’s other characters – and he bought in the vegetables to go along with the story – were “Dick-Tater”, “Agi-Tater”, “Common-Tater”,”Spec-Tater” and – if all else fails – “Be a Sweet-Tater.”

His text was Ephesians 5:1 – “Be imitators of God, therefore, as dearly loved children, and walk in the way of love.”

Good words for this Monday morning, I’d say – DEREK

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Nice form, Gerard....

I’ve been thinking about the most basic, essential important duty of “The Preacher’s Husband.” The question – not so much a question as an observation – came up today when I was playing golf with my friend, Gerard (see, there he is, exhibiting unique golf skills just this morning). Gerard is on the way to becoming a “clergy-hubby” by virtue of his wife’s progress through candidacy (with the Presbyterian Church) and seminary at Asbury on Orlando (MDivon the cards for next May).

Peg is second career, they’ve been part of a variety of churches over the years before finally realizing that they were Presbyterian (!!), and Gerard already has experience as an elder. So we were talking about the whole gig, as it were, and he was saying stuff like, “I’m not sure I could keep my mouth shut,” and I was saying stuff like, “You won’t be a regular church member anymore,” and “Your entire ministry focus is going to shift.”

Because this Preacher’s Husband stuff is all about, in my mind, just the one thing. And the one thing is to create an environment at home that’s supporting, nurturing, loving and relaxing for “The Preacher;” to give her a place where she can experience restoration and replenishment, so she can do the preacher thing without picking up additional stress she doesn’t need.

Not that anyone needs stress, it’s just that I see my job as giving her a safe place, an anchor, a rock where she can tie up and just feel the love.

The Great Adventure

“If you can do that,” I told him, “and give her a home where she feels loved and safe and completely nurtured and supported in the strongest way possible… then you will be the best kind of clergy-hubby there is….”

That’s all – DEREK

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Derek & Rebekah Maul - Image by KATY KUEHNER - Tribune staff photographer

Exciting day! This morning, Saturday July 23, the Tampa Tribune has published a feature about yours-truly and Rebekah.  “Brandon preacher’s husband content with unconventional role”  The article was written by the Trib’s religion editor, Michelle Bearden. Michelle did a fine job presenting a positive story and giving readers a clear look at what it means to be a clergy-spouse – regardless of denomination or gender.

As a writer, I find it nerve-racking to let someone else tell some of my story. Rebekah and I have both been misquoted in the past, and have been embarrassed when journalists completely missed the point of a seemingly straightforward interview. So it is refreshing to read a well-honed report put together by someone who knows how to listen as well as write. So kudos to Michelle Bearden.

Some newspaper subscribers will be reading this blog as a direct result of reading this morning’s article. Welcome! I hope you’ll come back and visit again.

I’ll keep this post brief and I simply encourage you to take a look around. Scroll down, click on the links, and read some of the content. You can also look on the right hand side of the page for your choice of recent articles, or to connect to my daily blog, “The Life-Charged Life.”

I recommended “Welcome to The Preacher’s Husband blog at WordPress”, down at the bottom of the list; it offers a helpful overview of some of the issues I’ve discussed or will be addressing in future posts.

Then, check out “What You See Is What You Get (and other reasons it’s going to be great to be a granddaddy!)”. It will give a good look at our family.

Thanks so much for dropping by! I look forward to future visits, your comments and (this is important) please recommend this site to your friends. I have a lot to share and I don’t want anyone to miss out.

Also, if you don’t have a church home, you are very welcome to worship with us at First Presbyterian Church of Brandon.

Peace, Love and Blessings – DEREK

– Check out www.derekmaul.com for links to books and other info…

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