...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

Thursday, May 12, 2016

Does the Pastor Have a Pastor?

Let your mind wander through your life, and let it notice what is hasn't noticed yet.
 L. Roger Owens

In his book, Abba, Give Me a Word (2012), L. Roger Owens tells the story of his journey in spiritual direction. The volume is one of a kind: I know of no other practicing United Methodist Pastor who has authored a book on his or her work as a directee.

Does the pastor have a pastor?
Let the tremendous benefits to personal well-being and ministry outweigh whatever barriers you have.  Begin, Owens, suggests, by writing a "longing list," noting what you want, the things you are longing for. Do this for three days, writing for five minutes each time without over-thinking. "Just write." Eventually, we will probably move from a new roof or car or suit to things like peace, quiet, healing, God.
The fuel for spiritual direction is our spiritual yearning for more of God. This longing is more important than the obstacles we might construct to seeking spiritual direction.

Thus, in the "Finding" chapter, Owens addresses the process of finding a spiritual director, what can make for a good fit, and whether or not we "pay" for it. This chapter may be the most useful in offering practical help to Protestant clergy who are new to spiritual direction.
The excellent chapter, "Offering," covers the reluctance we feel in offering to God the messy fragments of our life. "Just bring yourself," God says. "I've taken care of all the rest." Owens counsels:
Where in our culture do we have a safe place to offer even our worst, where that offering will not be rejected? At church? Not many. At work? Certainly not. And that might be the reason you are longing for a spiritual director because you've heard someone say, "It's one place I can offer everything without fear."
Spiritual direction is that space where I can be myself,  where I learn to let God take what I have to offer, even if what I have to offer is a mess. How I need this space cannot be overstated, especially if I am charged with the care of souls. This care is impossible to offer when my default is to attempt spiritual formation and ministry all on my own. But, I can become more credible in my life and work as I seek out spiritual direction.  


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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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