...self care is never a selfish act- it is simply good stewardship of the only gift I have, the gift I was put on earth to offer to others. Anytime we can listen to true self and give it the care it requires, we do so not only for ourselves but for the many others whose lives we touch.

Parker J. Palmer, Let Your Life Speak

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Spotted Owl or Lemming?

Without commenting on the actual recruiting efforts or the various studies that have been touted regarding younger pastors, there is a sense in which every generation needs to be reached and who better than folks from their own generation? Remember the plethora of workshops on reaching baby boomers 20 years ago? There was a sense of urgency about reaching these folks then, many of which were baptized but never confirmed. But most clergy are now baby boomers. Second career, older clergy have been, in part, very functional in the system because they could be better equipped to pay their tuition, depending on their former employment. So for a long time, older, second career men and women seemed to be a very good fit for the system.

The x'ers as well as the millennials want and need a different church. In a few years, it will be all theirs! Too bad most churches are already comprised of many AARP-ers. Dwarfing the ordination process will help. If Annual Conferences really want control of clergy effectiveness, then why not sponsor the best blue chippers and pay for half (or more) of their seminary tuition? UM seminaries could offer more paid tuition for UM students, such as Brite Divinity does for its denominational students (Disciples of Christ). Is it unfair to expect young pastors from various income brackets to shoulder the expense solo for such a community endeavor?

It comes down to being the kind of church that values and respects others for who they are, not their sense of entitlement. Entitlement is one of the deadliest, costliest, and most pervasive forms of spiritual dis-ease we have today. It blights spiritual health and its harbingers, gratitude and appreciation. It ruins harmony and peace in the community and destroys personal well-being, and happiness. Cedric the Entertainer says in Barbershop: "You've got to give it to get it." He is talking about respect. We don't get much of it until we learn to give it, genuinely, in community. Whether "spotted owl" or "lemming."

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Having been in ordained ministry in the UMC for 34 years, I've experienced the truth that although, clergy are frequently present for others, no one can offer what they don't have.That's why if you're a clergy person, you need someone who will listen to you. Not the random next closest person available, but rather someone like a spiritual director, a therapist, a peer who can be fully present to you. I hope the links and posts you find here will give you ideas, humor, hope and encouragement. Scott Endress

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