Tuesday, September 8, 2009

On Completing Denominational Forms

If you're a UMC clergyperson, you will probably be asked to complete an annual "self evaluation." There are lots of forms UMC's complete every year. For example, the year end reports are used for assessment of local church apportionments, which pays for the cost of our general church overhead, stuff we call "connectional" items. But the clergy self evaluation? It's anyone's guess if any denominational or conference exec. ever reads these.

Is the reward the actual exercise of reflective self-examination? Assuming that actual reflection is required, I'd have to conclude that yes, the completing of this most curious form doesn't really "help" cabinets who say they need them. Instead, it can help the clergy by inviting honest self-critique. Again, to the extent that that happens at all, it's worth it.

But being a good grad-grind isn't going to save you- not when you need help in your next move! Like guaranteed appointments, meeting all your deadlines will not come to your rescue if and when you are caught in the happenstance of life or the quirks of one or two antagonists.

Pastors spend much of their time guiding others to accept with grace what cannot be changed, what is out of our control. But when it comes to our own lives, we still think that we can control everything that happens to us. That's an illusion, one from which no amount of record keeping can protect.

So use the self evaluation "due by Advent" as an opportunity to grow this year if you need to. But expect no more.

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