Tuesday, I met with some of the finest ministers I know.
Each month, our mentoring group meets. Typically, we meet in my home for most of a day. We have contracted with one another to meet together one day, each month for one year. These ministers set aside their work and their responsibilities one day in order to be together and grow. I love to meet with these guys! What great encouragement I receive.
Each month we do the following:
- We tell our stories.
- We share what is happening in our ministries (I mean the personal part.)
- We talk about what we need to learn to be more effective.
- We encourage one another toward godliness.
Two days ago, at this month’s meeting, we reflected on Margaret Marcuson’s fine book: Leaders Who Last: Sustaining Yourself and Your Ministry . This is an outstanding book that could help many ministers learn to manage themselves better. In our gathering, each person lead a discussion through a chapter. We took a chapter and then the person responsible for leading us through that chapter pointed out significant quotes and made application to ministry. We discussed about half of the book. For some, it was their first exposure to looking at ministry from a systems perspective. Others had read Edwin Friedman and Peter Steinke. All of these books contribute toward helping one understand how to manage himself or herself in whatever role that person might be in.
We talked about the ministry situations of several members of the group as these situations related to the principles discussed in Marcuson’s book. For example, we talked about one person who managed himself as a “non-anxious presence” in an environment that could have been anxiety producing. We talked about how one person in our group handled himself in a situation involving an attempt to get him tangled in a some relationships that were less than healthy. We especially talked about how it was possible to manage oneself in a way that might bring energy and and clarity instead of more anxiety.
That afternoon, we watched, then discussed a portion of the Peter Steinke video “The Balancing Act: The Congregation as an Emotional System.“
- There is something to be said for being a part of a safe group in which each member of the group is committed to growth and maturing.
- In a safe group, where members are committed to the group, there will be confession and significant conversation.
- Commitment to the group is critical. Some people are interested in such a group but not committed to being a part of such a group. Interest without commitment doesn’t foster trust.
- There is only so much that a person can learn in seminary (or any other school). There is something to be said for regularly being with a group of people who can help you process your work and life.
- Much growth of life and ministry only takes place when a person is street level, right in the middle of these difficult situations, but not alone. I can tell a seminary class about the pressure and stress that takes place in congregational ministry. There is great value in thinking through that issue in class when you are not in the middle of conflict. However, there is a level of learning and maturing that can only take place when one is right in the middle of it all.
(Does this sound like something that might be helpful to you? Now maybe someone has asked you to become a part of such a group. Maybe not. Could it be that you could be the person to help make such a group a reality?)
How could such a group (whether ministers, Christian men, mothers, etc.) be helpful to you?