The following is the first part of a two part interview that I did recently with Lynn Anderson of MentorNetwork. Lynn Anderson has been a significant mentor to me for many years. From him I have learned so much about what it means to follow Jesus, live with authenticity, and live out my calling as a minister. I encourage you to visit his new website, MentorNetwork which is a wonderful resource. By the way, the books that Lynn mentions below, They Smell Like Sheep (Volumes I and II), are both very good and have been very helpful to me. Part two of this interview will be posted next week.
Jim Martin: Lynn, you’ve written two books on shepherding: They Smell Like Sheep, Volume 1 and Volume 2. Many ministers, and church leaders in general, are reading these books. What kind of response are you getting?
Lynn Anderson: Jim, the response to my shepherding books is beyond anything I might have imagined. Volume 1 is still selling well 10 years after publication. And, Volume 2 is steadily gaining altitude a year and a half after release. Almost every day I hear from readers. Of course, many readers are pastors and other church leaders but, Jim, I get regular feedback from ordinary folks in the pew as well: moms and dads, small group leaders, even Little League coaches, and even some business managers. People are very kind in their feedback. And we can’t even begin to accept all of the requests for seminars and retreats on these books. My prayer is that God is using these books to encourage Christian leaders.
Jim Martin: It seems that many ministers get into a rut and become stale in their ministries. How does a minister stay fresh? What have you done through the years to remain fresh and vibrant?
Lynn Anderson: What an important question, Jim, and one that I hear very often. Honestly, I wish I had a silver bullet here. Truth is, I cycle between flat places and mountain peaks myself. Possibly it’s the way some of us are wired.
However, along the way I have found that some very ordinary things "feed my freshness." I can’t guarantee they will fit everyone.
- Sabbaths help me a lot. Not specifically meaning classical weekly "Sabbath keeping" — "remembering the Sabbath Day and keeping it holy." Rather, my Sabbaths are mostly merely intentional periods to unplug from demands and action to just be quiet and try to pay attention to God. I am not talking about recreation here, or hobbies, etc. but rather about focused quietness. Maybe an hour in the early morning, before phones ring and doors swing. Possibly a long, quiet walk away from streets and highways. Maybe a weekend with a couple of good books.
- A homely thing like journaling always helps too. It forces me to slow down and reflect and to re-prioritize on the move.
- And, of course, prayer. My prayer path surrounds the Psalms. I try to pray a Psalm a day and to memorize a Psalm a month. Keeps deepening and stretching me, keeps my prayer life fresh and keeps me "in front of God." Frankly, prayer has never been very "automatic" with me. But the longer I live, the more "spontaneous" it becomes, and the more I love it. Without prayer, my world grows cold and empty.
- Plus, I must have significant "face time" with soul-enriching people — people who read and pray and think a lot. People who give fresh perspective and insight. People who listen and encourage.