If you’re anywhere around age 35, you’ve probably heard by now that you should have twice your annual salary saved for retirement. You’ve likely also enjoyed the many responses to that sage advice, including the despair shared by a generation facing widespread financial uncertainty and a rapidly changing employment landscape. Young clergy women came up with our own list. Enjoy!
– By the time you’re 35, you should have had at least ten well-meaning people stop you and say something derogatory about your age. “I’m not calling you ‘mother,’ I have granddaughters your age.” “Thank you for your little talk [sermon] this morning!”
– By the time you’re 35, you should have at least 50 years of church experience.
– By the time you’re 35, you will have accrued more ordained experience than most male cardinal rectors, to your shock.
– By the time you’re 35, don’t worry. You’ll still be “a young person” for another 15 years.
– By the time you’re 35, you’ll still be told you “look like a teenager,” and are “too young to be a pastor,” but also hear “why you didn’t ever get married and/or have kids?” because obviously, you are too ancient to do that now.
– By the time you’re 35, you will have lived more years on this earth than Jesus Christ. Congratulations!
– By the time you’re 35, you should have published at least one book.
– By the time you’re 35, still no one will care what you say because you’re still a woman.
– By the time you’re 35, you should know at least five local male colleagues your age with your same level of experience who have larger, better-paying, or more prestigious calls than you…or are going to get another degree … who all are married, with three kids under the age of 6…. and who are writing a book.
– By the time you’re 35, you’ll see just how many of those male colleagues, especially ones who consider themselves to be feminists or allies with clergy women, don’t see a problem with the discrepancies between their careers and those of their female colleagues, or don’t think that the patriarchy benefitted has them in their careers.
– By the time you’re 35 you will have been ordained, had three pastoral positions, earned your PhD & written a book and people will still have problems with addressing you as ‘Rev’ and ‘Dr.’
– By the time you’re 35, you will not yet be old enough for congregation members to take you seriously, yet you will also be too old for denominational authorities to count you as one of those elusive and highly desired “young people.”
– By the time you’re 35 you should have moved eight times in your adult life.
– By the time you’re 35, you’ll have more books than nearly any non-clergy person you know.
– By the time you’re 35, you’ll have given up on the church/ministry at least three times and, yet, somehow, still love it.
– By the time you’re 35, you’ll know just how critical and unique Young Clergy Women International is for your own support and sustainability in this sometimes maddening, and yet rich and beautiful, calling.