Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Advice for Young Clergy, Part I

I arrived back from the Branch's (our Young Clergy Group in the WNCC)Spring retreat invigorated and rested. We had a great time together at Camp Carolwood. On the first evening and morning we had time to spend with our bishop. We played improve comedy. I personally had to interpret the Bishop acting out the phrase "A bird in the hand is worth two in the bush." I didn't get it.

The second afternoon we heard from Jim Cantrell, a District Superintendent from the North Georgia Conference. He gave us twenty pieces of wisdom entitled "Best Practices for Ministry." I found this talk extremely uplifting and energizing. In four posts I am going share these tidbits of advice so here are the first five with a small commentary about them. Enjoy and I would love to know your thoughts as well.

1. Place a growing and deepening relationship with Jesus Christ at the center of your personal Ministry. Take the time each day to nourish and grow your faith and let nothing keep you from it.

This is one of those that you hear constantly from everyone. It can be easily ignored as we fill up our day with what we deem important, emails, Facebook, sermon writing. The more we ignore this the more self-centered and shallow ministry can get.

2. Make time for your family, especially your spouse, and remind yourself regularly that they come second only to your relationship with Christ. Among other things, this means take your vacations!

Once again I think self-importance can leave our families in the dust. I made a pack with Alycia, my wife, that since I am busy around major holidays, Easter, Thanksgiving, and Christmas, that two holidays are completely hers, New Year's Eve and 4th of July. This means that no matter what my church does on those days, I am with my wife and kids. I don't care if there is a 100 year old community picnic or a watch night service on those days, I'm with her. Once I explain this to people about 95% of them get it. 5% don't but that is usually because of their own issues.

What hurts me is that every time I get up from the dinner table, my 1 year old looks at me and says "bye, bye, Da Da." That is because about 2-3 nights a week I'm off to do church stuff. I need to get better at that.

3. Have integrity in who you are and what you do. Tell the truth, live openly and honestly, embrace the reality that other people look to you as an example.

You are a roll model is what he told us. Now I feel like a professional athlete! No really it is something that sunk in when he said it. People look to ministers as examples of how they should be and if we are not living life openly and honestly then we are not living like Christ or the example for others to follow.

4. Develop an authentic ministry which is based on your gifts and graces. God called you into ministry so "don't try to wear Saul's armor." Write your own sermons, live your own life. Read and study widely but try to be who God called you to become, not someone else.

You don't have to read this blog long to know I agree 100% with this. Be who God has made you to be. We do not need another cookie cutter preacher. We need all types and all styles. Be who you are!

5. Realize that the only constant in our world is change. Recognize that change is inevitable, rapid and broad. Communities, populations and churches are very different today than when you were born. The change will not slow down. Develop the mentality today that change is not something to fight about. Instead, engage it and see where God is already at work. Then join in where you can. Develop an awareness of the direction in which changes are moving so that you CAN change before you MUST change.

That last sentence I needed bronzed and placed on every door frame of every church! Heck make it gold so people REALLY pay attention to it!

6-10 to come.

1 comment:

Brian Vinson said...

Fantastic post. Thanks for it. I just got back from vacation, and sometimes while I was gone, I felt guilty for being gone. But the truth is, I am spiritually renewed now (where I was exhausted before I left).