I am in my third year of ministry as an appointed United Methodist pastor. An important part of my life is that I am a member of the annual conference. The annual conference is a community of those who have been called to a life in ministry within the United Methodist Church in a particular geographic area. It is also an annual business meeting to order our life together.
I have encountered several feelings about life in the annual conference that I believe are myths. One of these myths is that as a clergy person I should be reluctant to share my personal life with colleagues because that person may some day be my supervisor as a District Superintendent one day.
This is complete garbage.
I believe that it is crucial to share my life with colleagues in ministry because the community of the annual conference is one of the most important, perhaps the most important, community of which I am a part as a United Methodist pastor. I do not care if someone may some day be my supervisor. I think that it is even more important for a supervisor to know who I am as a person. Avoiding relationship because of a potential supervisory role in the future is a myth of the annual conference.
5 replies on “Myths of Annual Conference: Supervision”
I agree with you, Andrew. I wonder if this is somewhat generational. I haven’t heard many 40ish and under clergy share this myth. I have heard several over 40ish say this though. I think part of what will help a revivlal in Methodism is for clergy to understand accountability as a positive, a way for us to fully be the people God calls us to be, rather than as a negative, as in revealing things about ourselves that will hold us back from a “promotion”.
Its the same as church members not sharing their struggles with one another for fear of being seen as less than Holy. Whenever authenticity and genuine feelings are not allowed to surface, they lead to despair and destructiveness.
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David – I think you may be on to something here. I have also found it to be generational, but was not aware of it until you brought it up. You are right on here for revival.
Carlos – I see the parallel. True.
As you know, I changed my conference relationship a year and half ago to pastor East Heights. I love the West Conference but what I most miss about the East, is not the budget problems, but the relationships I had with other clergy.
I believe that it is hard to establish meaningful relationships with other clergy. Many times we are protective of our feelings and those areas of our lives where we are vulnerable. I have found though that when I take that risk of getting past the superficial level – this had paid off.
Since I am in the way over 40 category there is something special about serving side by side for years with fellow clergy that endears you to them over time.
Back to the vulnerability comment – I remember a few years ago, I was skipping an afternoon of annual conference to play golf at Alvamar (did I say that?) and started sharing with my clergy friend some of real feelings about myself and found out that he had the same feelings. That was sweet.
I do believe that anybody who someday becomes a district superintendent should keep those things that have been shared confidentialty by other clergy in a secret compartment. There may be times when you know someone has an issue that you don’t share with the Cabinet that allows you help someone not get into a situation they can’t handle.
By the way – thanks for the notes and for reading the thoughts of a way over 40 clergy.
Senior Pastor at East Heights UMC