Wisdom from Staff Parish

Earlier in the month, it was a blessing to meet with Staff Parish for my annual review. I met with a few representatives of the entire Staff Parish team for an interview / conversation that lasted about an hour. I felt genuinely supported during our time together.

At the end of our time together, they asked if there were any other questions that I would have for them. I asked them a question, that I try to be intentional about asking in settings like Staff Parish, Board of Ordained Ministry, mentoring and conversations with members of the congregation

What advice would you have for me as a young pastor starting out in ministry?

I hope to continue to ask this question throughout my life, shifting it to address my current situation. I think that listening and learning is a critical component of being a leader and a pastor. I want to share some of their responses as I found them encouraging, uplifting and applicable.

  • Continue in ministry in a spirit of organization and prayer.
  • Continue to be open to new experiences, new opportunities. Be open to what God would have for you.
  • Be a sponge – soak up and learn everything that you can possibly learn and experience.
  • Be a sponge – squeeze yourself out. Be willing and ready to pour your effort into the life of the church. Do not underestimate the influence that you have as a leader.

What would your response be to my question?

By Andrew Conard

Christian, husband, son, brother, homeowner

3 replies on “Wisdom from Staff Parish”

Andrew – That is a great question to ask! I am going to try to start remembering to ask that question as well.

I will take a stab at answering your question, but obviously as your peer, since we are essentially sitting in the same place looking out at the church together.

The advice you got sounds like good advice, and I can see where it is coming from. I do think the sponge metaphor could tend to burnout, especially squeezing yourself out. I have really been struggling with the culture of the church. It seems like we have tended over the last few decades to create a culture where pastors are the givers and the people in the pews are the takers. I may be wrong about that, but if that is true, the ultimate consequences for the UMC would be very sad.

So my advice would be to stay deeply connected to the Lord by relying upon the means of grace. I strongly believe that we must stay connected to God, and I have too often experienced how much vigilance is required in that effort. The three things that have been the most crucial to me are searching the Scriptures, praying, and staying connected with brothers and sisters in the Body of Christ whose wisdom and discernment I trust as important guides to God.

If we take our cues from anything or anyone else first, my fear is that we will do the maintenance tasks that are so important to others and we may ultimately make second things (like replacing the carpet or having a clean up day) first things. Don’t get me wrong, second things are important, but the church that makes second things first things forgets that it exists to worship Father, Son, and Holy Spirit and maybe more dangerously it forgets that it is sent in love to the world.

So my advice is know God, know yourself, and know what God has created and called you to do. And then do it!

I have said too much already, and I have just convicted myself that instead of writing here I need to open my Bible and listen to the voice of the Creator of my life!

Kevin – Wow. No need to be embarrassed and I will certainly not block you from posting comments. You have a great response and I appreciate your wisdom.

I think that you are right in that the squeezing out metaphor may have the tendency to be misinterpreted. My interpretation is that this would mean that I would seek to be deeply involved in that to which God is calling me within the present local church. I think in my current setting I need to be aware that I am not just here to learn, but also to contribute and be an active part of the life of the church.

I truly value your advice to stay connected to the Lord through the means of grace. I think that you are right on and I also find myself needing to be vigilant about this. Thank you for your gift of insight and guidance.

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