Jesus Creed

Jesus Creed

Pastor’s Wisdom: Father Rob

Imagine a big holiday meal with all the trimmings where only one person is responsible for cooking, serving, and cleaning it up. At the end of the day, that person would be pretty tired, wouldn?t they?!
Now imagine a big holiday meal with all the trimmings that was prepared, served, and cleaned up by several people working together and enjoying each other?s company. That?s a very different scenario, isn?t it?
Like cooking a big holiday mean with all the trimmings for family and friends, your job as a pastor is a big job. A demanding job. A tiring job. A long job. If you try and do it on your own, no matter how bright or clever or talented you may be, you?ll wear yourself out. You?ll be resentful of those who aren?t helping. Joy will become strangely absent in the work that was once your passion. I?ve been there. I know.
So if I were to answer the question ?What should a new pastor focus on?? I?d answer ?Make sure you have adequate support.? That may sound self-centered; it?s not. Yes, in some ways the focus is on you when everything in you feels like it should be focusing on everyone else but you. But you are not doing this primarily for your benefit; it is for the good of the Kingdom, your family, your church.
What does such support look like? I suspect it?s a little different for everyone. As I understand it, the rule of thumb in therapy is that anyone who does therapy should be in therapy. A responsible therapist is always in some kind of supervisory therapeutic relationship themselves. It is part of the professional expectation and obligation inherent in that position. Can we set the standard any lower for ministry?
I think that same principle applies to pastors. If we are going to minister to others, we better have people ministering to us as well. Personally, I?ve found I need a Spiritual Director (to help keep me growing in my walk with Christ), a Mentor or Coach (to help keep me growing in my vocation), a counselor or therapist (to help keep me healthy in my mental life, as I?ve already mentioned), and at least one friend with whom I can be completely open about everything?and I do mean everything (to help keep me honest.)
Your support team may look different than mine, and my particular choices may be unconvincing or even undesirable to you. I understand that; the important thing is to create the support team you need to do your work well. I will say it one more time: You cannot do it alone.
Such people have helped me disentangle my often mixed motives, see through agendas which I was convinced were God?s but which were really my own, helped me constructively manage temptation, allowed me to sort through the morass of voices complimenting, criticizing, and cajoling me so that I can decide which if any to heed; kept me from thinking too much or too little of myself, and so on.
Do this, and you will create a scrumptious repast for your people that will not only nourish them but bring them joy and delight. What?s more, it will do the same for you.

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posted May 29, 2008 at 2:33 am

Pastors burn out. « On Living

[…] Tagged leadership, pastoring, Scott McKnight There’s an excellent post over on Jesus Creed on pastors needing to ensure they have spiritual and physical support in their work – otherwise they’ll burn out. […]

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Llama Momma

posted May 29, 2008 at 5:37 am

Wow. Imagine if every pastor actually HAD this kind of support. It would be incredible.

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Clay Knick

posted May 29, 2008 at 6:24 am

Very, very good. Lots of wisdom here. Lots.

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Michelle Van Loon

posted May 29, 2008 at 7:48 am

If every pastor had this kind of support, we’d see very different churches.
The wisdom here can be applied to each of us, whether we’re in vocational ministry or not. Great post!

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Rob Merola+

posted May 29, 2008 at 8:25 am

Dear All,
Thanks for your kind comments. Because I stretched Scot’s generous word allowance to the limit, I wasn’t able to go in to how put together such a team–and how to do so without having to pay a small fortune.
Not wanting to take up any more space on Scot’s blog or comments (yes, I did read yesterday’s sage post!),and having checked in with Scot about it, I’m writing a few addendums to this post on my own blog over the next few days that can be found here:
If it’s helpful, please know this resource will also be available. Thanks again for reading, and may God richly bless you and your ministries.

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Jen McDonald

posted May 29, 2008 at 9:14 am

how refreshing to hear!

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Henry Zonio

posted May 29, 2008 at 9:46 am

Great reminder. I’ve been thinking about those issues lately… and expanding beyond a personal support team to allowing others to take on the burden and responsibility of ministry as well: volunteer and paid person alike. I really like how you said that we begin to resent those not involved when we try and do things ourselves… a good reminder that maybe we are the problem and not others when we get frustrated that we are “doing it all ourselves.”

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Martin Doering

posted May 29, 2008 at 7:44 pm

Consider the tension in the situations: Jesus sending out disciples two by two, and pastoral servant/leaders needing a support group of at least three; Jesus promising that we have all we need as we set our hearts upon the kingdom and its righteousness, and spiritual coaches lamenting the lack of a support system; Paul writing that he has learned to be content in any situation, and sinners like me feeling slighted because we do not perceive the blessings of cooperative and encpouraging co-workers.

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