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.