Ministry Inside.65

Each Thursday, the post is especially for ministers, preachers, pastors, and other church leaders. Whether you identify with any of these roles or not, perhaps you will find the following interesting.coffeeA.jpg

1. Appreciation. I can’t tell you how many ministers are starved to hear a “thank you” or just a genuine word of appreciation from their church or elder groups. In some churches, it has been a long, long time since they said “thanks” to any of their ministers. I really don’t think most ministers believe the church owes them a word of thanks. It’s not that at all. Some ministers even feel embarrassed that they want to hear this so badly.

Unfortunately, many ministers feel taken for granted. They preach sermon after sermon and serve in numerous ways, often in obscurity. Many ministers are very conscientious. Consequently, they work very hard to get a certain project just right. Unfortunately, what some of these hear is not a word of gratitude but a critique. “Why didn’t you do it this way instead of the way you did it?” They hear no gratitude but instead hear from a person whose only comment is, “I think you can do better.”

Far too many ministers feel as if the church takes them for granted. Unfortunately, far too many elder groups (both individually and as a group) fail to express to these people gratitude, affirmation and any recognition of a job well done to these people. When churches fail to do this, it is ultimately the people in the congregation who lose.

Maybe one of the most significant gifts that we can give another this Christmas is the affirmation and encouragement that may be long overdue.

2. Healthy Self-Definition. Today, I read a portion of an excellent article that appeared in Clergy Journal in August 1994. The article is “Clergy Self-Care: Defining and Valuing the Self” by Myron and Jan Chartier.   

The Chartiers describe self-definition as being linked to one’s personal differentiation. That is, one has a strong sense of self. A person with a good sense of self-defintion takes responsibility for his own well being (instead of blaming others) and emotional health. This enables one to relate to a variety of people in a church.

For example, a person with a good sense of self-defintion is not focused on making others happy. Rather this person has learned to have a strong sense of self and relates to others who have different views without trying to say what makes them happy. On the other hand, this person does not feel the need to have everyone agree with him in order to have a sense of personal value in a church.

They list eight barriers that can get in the way of healthy self-definition:

  • Shaky self-worth that is easily threatened can undermine a sense of self.
  • Unresolved issues from one’s family of upbringing and previous life history can sabotage attempts at self-defintion.
  • Unreasonable drives to succeed can foil being self-defined as a minister.
  • Heightened perfectionism can turn the minister into a workaholic.
  • Over commitment, allowing little or no time for self-reflection, undermines in a corrosive manner any self-defintion work that a person may have done.
  • Overwhelming needs for inclusion, acceptance and love are a major barrier to self-defintion.
  • Health issues of various kinds can block the process of self-defintion.
  • Fragile spiritual life and faith can undermine one’s sense of self.

Please note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are offensive or off-topic.

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4 thoughts on “Ministry Inside.65

  1. Unfortunately, within the non-instrumental CoC there are far too many members who feel the need to remind the minister that he is not a Pastor or a Reverend. They have a “need” to keep him humbled.

    The irony of this is that the minister is usually the most Biblically trained person in the congregation. The minister is hired by elders who often have no training, and he is reminded that THEY are the shepherds and they expect him to keep the preaching on a level they can understand. So, the membership starves, never realizing the feast that could be theirs.

    I did not intend to be negative, but I have seen in too many conservative congregations a strange mixture of emotion when it comes to the congregation’s thinking toward a minister; a recognition of the need for one, yet, a fear of any who actually feed and lead.

  2. John, you make some great points. And yes, I am very familiar with this mentality. It is very sad and very foreign to the witness of the early Christians in the NT.

    Fortunately, that mentality is changing in many, many congregations. Of course, there are still congregations where that kind of thinking seems to rule. Not only is it difficult for a preacher to serve in such an environment but I am convinced that the congregation sabotages themselves with this mentality.

    I think that some of this thinking is rooted in a view that ministers are basically in an employer/employee relationship with the church. What is missing is an understanding of “call” (sometime missing on the part of the minister as well as the congregation.) As a result, we are left with a relationship that never seems to rise above employment.

    Thanks for your comment, John.

  3. You are right – gratitude is vital for pastors – it’s a lifeline of support

    My wife & I are finishing in our pastoral roles in our church next February … after 30 years.

    One of the joys of our last year has been the thank you’s & honouring that has come our way as people have taken the time to appreciate our ministry & pastoring. Sure makes the grief of leaving easier to handle!

    • John, thanks so much for this note. I love hearing about your long ministry–30 years! Wow! So grateful that you have experienced gratitude from many of these people.