Thursday, October 23, 2014

Taking Things Personally in Ministry

Don't take it personally.

Whether it's business or the church, not taking an action personally is the prevailing wisdom regarding any response that could be seen as negative. Taking things personally means that emotions obscure clear thinking, leading to problematic or even dangerous decisions. Taking things personally subverts good business, rational processes, and sound theology.

Is taking things personally a problem?

Coming from a Lutheran Christian tradition, I have been warned regarding appeals to emotion and faith. This was easy for me to do in 10 years of interim ministry. Detachment was the name of the game. I would not get entangled with the emotions of the congregational system, lest I get caught up in waves of anger and pain that had nothing to do with me. These emotions prevent seeing a clear path for the faith community. I was never asked to be a robot--I still offered compassion and pastoral care, but I was also asked to look at the relationships and organization of the congregation as a social scientist. I enjoyed this approach; it was the best of both worlds for my interests.

Since I've been in a congregation where there is no apparent finish line to my time of service, I find that detachment is more challenging to implement. When a ministry falls flat or there is discord, the emotional pull is stronger. I am more invested in the relationships. The people in my congregation are my neighbors. 

"It's not personal, it's business."
"Don't take things personally, this isn't yours to take on." 

While I have learned the value of these approaches to ministry, there is merit in caring. This is a world where too many people deal with too little caring. Maybe taking more things personally will allow me to be a better pastor in this congregation and community.

I don't know. I'm still learning. What do you think?

1 comment:

  1. It is time to stand up to the Fundamentalists in the Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod.

    I do not expect to change the mind of even one Christian fundamentalist by my online campaign against gay-hate-speech-promoting Lutheran Church, Missouri Synod official, Paul T. McCain and Patrick Henry Christian College provost, Gene Veith. I do not expect that any amount of reasoned argument will convince them of their vicious, hateful, "un-Jesus-like" behavior.

    My goal is to expose them.

    My goal is to have their Churches, Universities, Associations, and Websites added to the list of Hate Groups loathed by the overwhelming majority of the American people; so deeply loathed and reviled that these groups are marginalized to the sidelines of American society, politics, and culture; their opinions and views held in no more regard than that of other sponsors of hate, such as the KKK and Neo-Nazis.