In-Sight: A Pastoral Paradigm

Since Wednesday is the day I focus upon issues related to clergy, I thought I’d share some insights I received from a recent phone call with a pastor friend of mine.

A few months ago, he was appointed to a new church.  And like good pastors do, he used the transition to “take stock” of his own life, as well as the new situation in which he finds himself.  Some thoughts and convictions have emerged.

He is viewing himself and his ministry in relation to three words: rhythm, relationships, and resistance.

“Rhythm” means maintaining the action/reflection pattern as the core of his spiritual formation.  “Relationships” means establishing and developing friendships with his parishioners.  And “resistance” means taking the strengths of the first two words and using them to deal with the inevitable challenges which come no matter where we serve.

As I listened to him describe this vision and plan, I felt that he was enacting a pastoral paradigm that could serve any of us well.  Ministry that is “from the heart” and “in community” will give it an authenticity, vitality, and strength.  When the “resistances” come, any of us will be better equipped to meet them with the resources that “rhythm” and “relationships” provide.

If you’re reading this as a layperson, why not consider taking these three words and have good visit with your pastor about them—asking particularly how you can come alongside him or her to support growth in all three areas.  And if you are a member of the Staff-Parish Committee (or know someone who is), encourage a conversation about these things.  They do not happen by accident, or without support.

About Steve Harper

Retired seminary professor, who taught for 32 years in the disciplines of Spiritual Formation and Wesley Studies. Author and co-author of 42 books. Also a retired Elder in The Florida Annual Conference of The United Methodist Church.
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