Wednesday, October 31, 2007

myth number five: ministry is not lonely.

In my quest to be pastor for the world, you need to know more about me....and then I want to get to know about you. We both need to shed our preconceived notions. Along the journey we will hopefully learn more about
this world we live in.

I am a minister. Myth number five: Ministry is not lonely.

How could a profession that is all about being with people and working with people be lonely? Easy. One of the aspects of ministry is that the minister has to have a certain amount of distance from people to have perspective of their individuals lives and the communal life of the church.

Then Jesus said to them, "Prophets are not without honor, except in their hometown, and among their own kin, and in their own house." This closeness/distance tug of war is a very present reality in the very congregation a minister serves. On one hand we become family, on the other we maintain the distance of a prophet set. aside and other.

For example, it is difficult if not down right impossible to provide wisdom, leadership and perspective for the family I grew up in. To my brother I am still the punk brother. To my sister, I never can quite understand her situation according to her response.
I understand this. I am too involved in their lives to have perspective.

When a minister becomes too involved in the lives of people, and trust me I have, perspective is lost.
A minister has to remain a minister at all times. The balance between the role of being a minister and a friend must be maintained carefully.

Also, ministry is a semi-nomadic life. Few ministers stay in one place their whole ministry. Those who do, leave the church in a difficult position when the time comes to call a new minister. Long term ministries create very complicated systems which make it hard for people from the outside to be trusted and or let in.

Though ministry is all about living with people, working with people, praying, teaching and worshipping with remains a lonely profession. A wise minister is one who develops wide circles of friendships and relationships. These are the relationships that provide grace and perspective.

If you don't trust these words then turn to a prophet that has helped many ministers and congregations become healthy.....Rabbi Edwin Friedman.

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