Saturday, January 23, 2016

Seminary PM1: The Person of a Minister 1

The "Seminary in a Nutshell" series continues. The first "chapter" was

1. The Calling of a Minister

The second "chapter" begins today, "The Person of a Minister." My featured resource this week is a book Wesley Seminary uses in its third spiritual formation course, on goal-setting and accountability. Samuel Rima does a good job of leading a minister to pay attention to every dimension of his or her life.

1. A pastor is a person. Ministers may have a unique calling on their lives, but they still have spiritual needs. They still have physical and relational needs. They still have economic and psychological needs. They need people to minister to them at the same time that they are ministering to others. In these next few posts, we want to explore how a minister can take care that, as Paul once said, the minister him or herself should not become "disqualified" at the very time that they are helping others (1 Cor. 9:25).

The focal need for all human beings is spiritual in nature. Our deepest need is our need for God, and our greatest priority must be his kingdom. A minister can facilitate any number of great outcomes externally, and yet be starving spiritually inside (the "starving baker"). Eventually, this trajectory will eat the minister from the inside out.

You may have heard the expression, "I am third." The basic idea comes from the Great Commandment that Jesus gave to his disciples: "Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength" and "Love your neighbor as yourself" (e.g., Mark 12:30-31). These priorities apply to ministers just as they apply to all humanity. God must come first. Others come second. I am third.

2. Yet ministers need to eat and sleep too. They need to watch their weight. With a calling that often makes Sunday a time of work, they need to be more conscious about sabbath than many others.

Ministers need to be healthy emotionally and psychologically. They need accountability and mentoring just like any other human being. They should have personal and professional goals.

Ministers need to have healthy relationships not only with those inside and outside the church, but within their families when they are married. God should not be confused with the work of ministry. God comes first, but the "job" of ministry does not come first. God does not want your children to lose their souls or your marriage to fall apart because you are a type A personality who does not make family a priority.

Ministers need friendships. Single ministers in particular need close friendships that help meet interpersonal needs. In short, being a minister does not change either the priorities or the needs that all believers have. The burden of ministry never rests on the shoulders of one.

Next Week: In the Name of Jesus

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