Wednesday, 30 November 2011

The Vicar's Kids

During my sojourn in this rough part of the English Cotswolds, I have been reflecting with the other priests on the Second Letter of Paul to Timothy. In the first chapter of that letter, there is mention of two ladies - Lois and Eunice. One was mum and the other was grandma to Timothy, and between them, it is claimed, they nurtured little Timmy in the faith. Excellent.

Now some of you may have picked up on the fact that Mrs Acular and I are blessed by the perfect curly gifts that are our children - otherwise known in these parts as the Twins Aculae. They are bright little buttons, able to drive with a high degree of competency the greatest of Steve Jobs' brainchildren, and also able to engage with deep and profound theologies. No, I am not referring to the poncy theologies you find in books and through which bespectacled geezers have made a living - I am talking about the mighty questions of life under God. Jurgen Moltmann has nothing on my kids.

During our considerations concerning Two Timmy, I found myself pondering again something that niggles me - an unresolved matter that I haven't even discussed with the lady of the house. I speak of the direct spiritual nurture of my own children.

Part of me has always held firm to the notion that I am called first to be a husband, next to be a dad and then to be a priest. Mixing those things up is a perilous matter, and a matter I seek to avoid. That meant that I did not evangelise my wife before she confessed faith for herself, that as her husband, that was not my job, (and that had I tried, I would have been the recipient of a swift kick in the family jewels). The kids are at an age where this is a poignant matter once again: how to raise my children as Christians all the while not being the vicar, but being dad. In that, there is a distinction.

As I write this, I have no formulated view. Some may say that it is my Christian duty, and my priestly duty, to embody at home what I expect of my punters. However, in the back of my mind, I am aware of two things. First is that my wife and kids do not have a parish priest; second is that they are not a part of my ministry, the captive audience, the litmus test, the guinea pigs. They are my family, and exposed amply to God and his Enormities. They desire and deserve a dad, not a vicar all too close. Yet there are things I should now be thinking of as the girls themselves grow into spiritual people in their own right.

I think I am exorcised over the correct balance. Suggestions?

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad


  1. David, you say you are first a husband, second a father and only then a priest and I agree. However,in all three roles you are always a Christian. OK, as a priest you are a professional Christian, but leaving that aside, you are a Christian father and have the same calling to share your personal faith with your children as did Lois and Eunice, or as did I when I came to faith when my own children were small.

    Take off the dog-collar and just talk to your children about God and Jesus and faith as you would hope the parents in your congregation would do with their children. And don't forget that your wife has the same calling and it is something you can share, as you share the other aspects of your children's upbringing.

  2. Methinks you'll be married a looooonnnnng time with such a wise disposition towards your wife & children. Two sayings come to mind: "The best gift a man can give his children is to love their mother.", AND "Matters of religion are more 'caught' than 'taught'." I think you score on both points!

    Moreover, I think you've captured the tension that exists for all believers in all spheres. Walking it out is always harder, though better than talk.

    P.S. My husband reminds me often: "Do not answer questions that have yet to be asked". :)

  3. It is an interesting thought to ponder on as a dad.But note this, they see all aspects of you, (well almost all). So they have been given a standard by which to measure their actions and by which to judge themselves.
    Not a bad ruler to use to navigate through the geometry of life.

  4. In the Catholic Church, the rite of infant Baptisms speaks of parents being the "first" and "best" teachers of their child in the ways of faith. I don't know if you have this form in the Anglican rite but it makes a lot of sense to me.
    Your girls are doubly blessed then as they have practising Christian parents to educate them in the ways of faith and also a 'professional' to boot!

  5. I am neither a husband or a dad (although I am a Priest) but have many non christian friends and whereas I try never to preach to them I hope I evangelise them both in the way I live my life and respond to their questions and situations we find ourselves in together. I think we sometimes make the mistake of thinking that we have to talk about Jesus to people to get our message over and forget that 'they will know that we are christians by our love'.
    I was lucky to have been brought up by christian parents and the things I am grateful for is that they taught me to say my prayers and the need to see Christ in everybody.
    It seems to me you are doing a pretty good job of that so don't beat yourself up and just carry on doing what you are doing to the best of your ability



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