[Image: 1995, my ordination year]

Greetings all.  I trust everyone had a revelatory Easter and enjoying some time of rest after Lent and Holy Week.

A few weeks ago, I received a note from a seminarian asking me to answer a few questions about pastoral leadership.  As I began to respond, I thought this would be make a good post for this blog.  So with her permission I have answered her nine questions as briefly as I could.  What a gift it is to be asked some insightful questions by someone navigating this wonderfully active water of call and ordination.  And what I gift, those of us who have been doing this for a bit, can offer back by sharing honest reflections on our call and ministry.

I hope that some of you will take the challenge and answer these questions yourself.  I am not going to actually make this into a full-out meme, but if you feel so inclined, please feel free to blog or facebook your responses and if you send me the link or trackback, I’ll update this posting.  Think of this as a kind of quick phone interview and a pleasant ministry interruption 😉

OTHER RESPONDERS:

Here are my responses:

1. Tell me about your conversion experience/faith journey.

I came to faith, not in one moment of realization, but in a cumulative experience of the divine community of my home church.  They took seriously their baptismal vows to care for and guide me faith life and I have always felt that I am to respond in my life out of that love.  I have never really questioned the salvific nature of my relationship with Christ while always navigating how I shift in my interpretation and articulation of that faith.

2. Why did you go into ministry?

The money and prestige 😉  But a close second was a sense from folks around that this was a calling.  I remember telling folks that I was thinking about being a pastor hoping that they would laugh me out of the building and even those outside the church said, “huh, not surprised”  The affirmation of call from those within and outside the church – not always a pleasant , but always honest – gave me a broad view of what my calling into ministry might look like.

3. What do you love the most about being in ministry?

There is really is a great deal to chose from, but if I had to choose one thing right now, it would be the flexibility of the life that allows for creative expressions of the pastorate.

4. What is the most challenging thing about being in ministry?

Meaningfully making Christ real in a world that is constantly changing in its very understanding of faith and community.  The ultimate “T”ruth of Christ does not change for me, but navigating the “t”ruths along the way requires a adaptive abilities that are not always easy to live.

5. What are the most important things to keep in mind while ministering to people?

The role we have in people’s lives in sacred.  We are given access to the most delicate parts of people’s journey not initially because of who we are as individuals, but because of who/what we represent.  This is a gift that must be tended well.  This can be abused without knowing it, but can also be a relationship where everyone meets God in new ways so that the communites that we are part of will grow in body and spirit.

6. How do you deal with the stresses of ministry and leadership?

Oh the assumptions you make 😉  I lean on my communities to provide all the wit and wisdom that will help me to grow.  I engage with annual covenant groups, have a spiritual director and take part in many web 2.0 communities.  I also make sure to play whether it is movies my myself, motorcycle riding and/or goofing of with my family.

I also try not to take myself too seriously.

7. How would you define your leadership style?

Wow, this is a tough one.  What I hope characterized my leadership style is to be balanced, transparent and consistent.  Balanced between being prophetic, pastoral, priestly and poetic in my leadership role; consistent throughout my life and ministry in person and online; and transparent in all that I do . . . what you see is what you get.  Now this does not mean that I am NOT strategic and/or political, but how I engage in that activity is colored by the first three.

8. How would you define the your leadership techniques?

I know, appreciate and love “my people” so much so that I will meet them where they are in all aspects of their lives.  Whether that is in technological space, worship needs, organizational inclinations, etc. I always try to know the cultural, social and theological realities of the people I serve.  The sociological and analytic chops of all pastors need to be sharpened if we truly will know those who we have been called to serve.

9. What are the things people do that make you feel most supported and loved as their pastor?

Like everyone, I appreciate the occasional and unexpected “Thank you” but by far the greatest joy I receive from the congregation is when the language changes from “your” church to “my/our” church.  My heart leaps when folks begin to embody those things that I try to teach, influence and embody myself.  This does not mean we are all becoming of like IDEOLOGY in thought, but that we are finding convergence of like BEING in living as the body of Christ.

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