Catching Up

Monday, Mar 5th, 2012

I remember, when I was on staff at Central Seminary years ago juggling a full time public relations position, weekend pastorate and M.Div. course load, thinking how nice it would be when I was a pastor and had only one job to focus on.  Then I became a pastor and I discovered that that one job easily overfilled and stressed life as much as three had in the old days. 

Now I am back at Central and just as capable of being inundated as always.  The problem does not go away, friends.   It seems that am always read to entertain the temptation to do and achieve beyond my limits.  But that way of ministry does not serve well pastor, congregation or the wider world. 

Is that what I really want to say?  The title is Catching Up.  I started out to apologize for giving so little to the blog, justifying it by all the work I have to do for heaven’s sake.  But no – I meant to say that this is not an excuse and I’m going to do better.  But as I wrote, I began to say that I’m doing too much and maybe the blog ought to be scratched.  I intended to say that I’ll organize better so that there is room to blog.  Now which is going to be?

I had three jobs when I was at Central Seminary the first time:  public relations director, M.Div. student and bi-vocational pastor.  I remember longing for the day when I would be a pastor only; how relaxing it would be to have only one job to focus on.  Then I became a pastor.   You know where this going.  A relaxing pastorate?  I began to think about those good old seminary days when professors gave assignments and deadlines and you knew when your work was done. 

Now that I am back at Central, I have finally learned that I am the only one who can decide how much, how fast, how gladly or wearily I will work.

I know pastors whose workload and stressload have made them seriously ill or seriously consider leaving ministry or both.

What am I trying to get at here?  I do want the discipline of blogging to help make sense of experiences, observations and study.  It’s been hard writing.  Why?  Just because writing is hard, especially without interaction, feedback, which our system has not allowed.  But, Francisco, could it be changed, with an edit feature so that any responses go to editor first for decision about whether it is worthy of publishing and/or receiving a response?  That will energize me, I think.  But without that, do I have what it takes to blog?  To write intimately to who I don’t know?  I’m going to try to be teaching students to do this.  I could write to Mary Lynn.  And Soozi.  And Jennifer.  How about those three?  And Mary Beth.  Any men out there?  Dwight Moody.  He intimidates me; he’s so good.  But hey.  I have something to say that is mine to say and it is worthy.  And there is no one else to say it quite like I (or me?). 

Formation Experiences And Developments

Who you are (spirituality, vitality, optimism, faith journey, identity, maturity, etc) is so much more influential when it comes to effective pastoral or church staff leadership.

-A vitalized pastor or church staff member influences the system towards growth, progress, and health. We have seen this over and over. Simply being spiritually vitalized, seeing possibilities, and living with hope changes the congregation's life. There is not a program for this. Instead, there are pathways to walk (or run) which lead to spiritual vitality.

-Ministers who engage in proactive self-development change the church system....for the better. When clergy and church staff get in touch with their calling, rediscover their hopes and dreams for ministry, and establish sustaining relationships with healthy colleagues, then growth and development happen. With great joy, we watch coaching clients come alive as the coach walks along with them in life and ministry.

-Effective parenting serves as a good guide for effective congregational leadership. Over the holidays we talked with lots of relatives about those who have gone before us. We middle-agers (claiming that label as long as I can get away with it) wondered what strange afflictions we are giving to our children. I was reminded again that the best way to love my children and to parent the next generation is to work out my issues. Then I'm a better me; with a greater capacity to parent effectively. Becoming a better person who parents is far better than learning the next best parenting approach, applying them in an immature way.

-One more quote from Jeffrey Jones: "..the greatest impact on our role as leaders is who we are as persons. That matters a whole lot more than the knowledge and skills we have accumulated along the way. The 'who' of it is about those things we say and do when there is no time for reflection, in the unguarded moments when circumstances demand a response. It is determined by the spirit within that we have nurtured over the years. It is shaped by the knowledge and skills that are within because we have internalized them."