Answering Reverend Mommy's questions: 1. Is being a pastor detrimental or helpful to your faith?
My faith has deepened tremendously through the ordination process and during these years of parish ministry, both because of the good times and the wilderness times. I once heard Martin Smith, a well-known Episcopal author, talk about ordination, that for those of us who are ordained, that is the path for our salvation, which helped clarify some things for me. Being a priest has made me into a better Christian, both outwardly (i.e. I take pledging seriously) and inwardly. Not that there aren't days. . .
: 2. Is being a pastor harder or easier than you imagined from your seminary days? I was a church secretary before I went to seminary, so I had a pretty good idea about most of what I was getting into. But I think I couldn't really imagine what some of the hard days would really FEEL like.
: 3. Have you developed a passion/focus to your pastoral ministry? My primary loves are preaching, teaching and liturgy, and communicating that to children.
: 4. All this talk about clergy burnout-- is it any different than any other job? Yes and no. I think it's easy to become overwhelmed with cynicism. I think the difference between this and any other job is that you rarely have any peers in the workplace itself, unless you're in a multi-staff setting. And your peers may not be willing to walk with you--there are a lot of loners. I've been fortunate to have good peers and mentors wherever I have been, and I have made a point to seek them out. The extrovert in me kind of has to. Besides, I enjoy the company of other clergy, online and otherwise
: 5. How does the congregation show its support? What are the hidden perks to being a pastor? I've just changed jobs, so I can't say how in this new one. (more info on my new job in a later post, by the way. In my previous job, the congregation was very appreciative, in concrete and intangible ways.
: 6. How do you keep your children safe in their faith and church life? No kids, but we take the cats to a vet who's one of husband's parishioners. Does that count?
: 7. Do you admonish parishioners? If so, how? Ummm, very, very carefully. So much can be misinterpreted.
: 8. Do you pray for your flock? How? I have an ongoing conversation with God through the day, with a wide range of topics, of which parishioners as individuals and as a body are often on the agenda.
: 9. Is it enough to be approachable? How do you approach them? I approach by using opportunities for connection, common interests, hearing about something going on in someone's life, checking in with ministires, that whole ministry of presence thing
: 10. Do you change lives? Sure hope God does
: 11. Do you aim for greatness? What is your aim in ministry? My best self is trying to be faithful to what I perceive as a call to be a good parish priest. I would love to revitalize struggling congregations and help them realize their potential for good in this world and the next.
: 12. How do you keep the enmeshment of church/ministry/family from being overwhelming? Helps to be one half of a clergy couple. Our energies can never be completely sucked into one congregation. I have good mentors who I can turn to, and have often relied on therapists/spiritual directors to help me sort out issues. I also benefit from being involved with others, both in the church and having a community outside of the church, which is new to me but something I have really worked on in this move.
: 13. Would you say you have deep relations with church members? Tips on barriers or boundaries? Still sorting that one out. I'm not sure one can be real and avoid having friends. But there are personal issues I will not discuss with parishioners--
: 14. What is the difference between a mediocre and a good and an excellent pastor? Being able to step back and see the larger picture of the congregation and the wider Church. Recognizing systems and the role you play in them. Having some energy and passion. Setting some good boundaries on time and energy. Being connected with friends and colleagues. Having some passions outside the church. Being willing to talk about the hard stuff.
: 15. What is a must read author/website? Loren Mead. Friedman and/or Steinke. Eugene Peterson
: 16. Is there a difference in the way that men and women pastor? How would you describe the difference? Yes, but I'm not sure I can describe it concretely. Would love to see observations by non-clergy on this issue. And I'm hungry for breakfast!
Good questions Reverend Mommy! Love to see the conversations about these.