...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

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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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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