Friday, May 29, 2009

Life in the Parsonage

We are having quite a bit of work done on our home this summer. There was quite a bit that needed to be done. It's just that there was no time, money or manpower (it is mostly men that work on houses here) to get it done. This summer the decision was made to get some things done at the parsonage. Which is what our home is. A parsonage is a curious phenomenon. They used to be quite popular but most churches have sold their parsonages and give their pastors a housing allowance so they can buy their own homes. And keep them up themselves. A parsonage is a big burden for a church. Not only do the church people have to keep up their church facilities, they have to keep up another house, too. That they don't live in. Most people find it challenging enough just to keep up with their own home maintenance. So since they don't live in the parsonage themselves and they have plenty to do already, it is easy for them to forget about the parsonage.

There are not many jobs that come with a home. Barack and Michelle get one and the Palins do, too, although they have caused hard feelings by not living there much since they would rather stay in their own home in Wasilla. I can understand fully. I don't know if Michelle has to work through a committee if she wants to replace the hall carpet or add a front storm door. But pastors usually do. One of the most frustrating things about living in a parsonage is that it is your home, but it isn't. Some committee takes care of it. That means if something gets done, it may not be the way you would like it. It is the way the committee likes it. And you many want something done but the committee doesn't see it that way. After all they are paying the bills, so it makes sense that they get to choose how much to pay for a remodel or whether to give the pastor the hot tub he asked for.

That's another thing about parsonages. I have heard people complain about their pastor's expensive tastes when it comes to redecorating parsonages. "Well the new pastor's wife had to go out and get all new flooring when the old stuff was perfectly fine for the previous pastor's wife!", someone I know said about her pastor. What kind of a home should a pastor live in? He needs a toilet and a shower but what about a hot tub? I go back and forth. Sometimes I feel sorry for myself because I don't have the home I want but then I feel like you ungrateful wretch, at least, you have a roof over your head.

Some church folk feel like the pastor with a parsonage has a pretty sweet deal. All expense paid living. He or she never has to worry about rising fuel bills or failing appliances. On the other hand, he/she is forfeiting the benefits of home ownership. As this pastor gets older I am realizing that we have no house to retire to! No equity built up either. It's a thought that brings some mild anxiety. Had we lived in the same house since we were married, we would own it by now. And it would be ours, the way we want it.

I am glad for the house we get to live in. I thank God every day for the blessing of that house. Too many people in the world live in substandard shelter. And I appreciate the maintenance that is being done on it this summer. I don't own it and had no reason to expect that the work would get done. There are lots of places to spend that money. But I also look forward to the day when we will buy our own home, humble as it may be, and then my wife can tell me whether I can have a hot tub or not.

1 comment:

  1. parsonage living sucks. I would never do it again. after 20 years my husband and I have nothing. No hope of retirement, no savings, no equity. and the church people think they are doing you a favor by letting you live in their house! How absurd. Who would live this way. Certainly not carnal church people!. We have no savings, no equity and no hope of retirement. Chistian welfare is what it is. The parsonage system benefits no one but the church and when they are done with one pastor they do not care what happens to him and his family. I know because I am there right now. I would never in my wildest nightmares live this way again. Now our only hope is in trusting that the Lord will supply some other means by which we can retire. Fat chance!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    A disgusted and disillusioned pastor's wife from Babylon, NY