Relationships In Ministry

Posted: May 12, 2014 in From Me To You, Referrals
Tags: , ,

chain LinkLast Thursday, I spent about three hours talking with the other worship pastor at my church. He went to school for counseling and has worked professionally as such, in addition to being a worship pastor and touring on fiddle with artists including Rascal Flatts and Alan Jackson. Having that sort of background, he has a unique perspective on ministry, and we have a lot to share with one another from our differing histories. One thing that we have in common, however, is we have both experienced considerable pain from church life.

Our conversation came around to the point where I noted a parallel between ministerial relationships and marriage relationships. Here’s a joke I heard a while back about how men communicate (or rather, don’t communicate) their love for their wives:

A wife comes to her husband flustered one day and says, “Why don’t you tell me you love me?” Surprised, the husband replies, “What do you mean? I bring home money, I pay the bills, I do yard work, and so much more!” The wife cries, “But you never tell me that you love me!” The husband nonchalantly retorts, “I told you I love you when we got married. If that changes, I’ll let you know.”

I know, right? That’s a little bit insensitive of the husband. But that’s actually how we often act toward others, consciously or not — and that is not constrained to our wives. See, in rehearsal just last night, he made a suggestion to me that I pause for just a second from his song into mine because of the dissonance (his last chord = E; my first chord = Eb). I thought through it and decided I wanted to go straight in. Because of the particulars of the moment and my own experiences, I just kind of responded with a “Well, I might pause, I might not.”

That felt odd to him, so we talked it over Thursday. In doing so, we realized that the two of us never told each other that we are all for each other, that we will support one another in ministry and seek the other’s success. It was kind of a given going into our positions, but to merely do things the way they should be done and to actually vocalize your intention and desire for the other’s good are two entirely different things. I did not intend to be gruff or churlish when my coworker made his suggestion, but because we did not have the explicit assurance of support for one another, it came across as a slightly hostile retort.

Yesterday being Mother’s day, you might think of yet another application of this principle. True, your family may understand that you love them — but if you never tell them directly, the assurance of that knowledge may fade after a while. I struggle to keep on top of this myself, but I know the value that comes from telling your loved ones that they are indeed your loved ones. Do yourself a favor and be more vocal about your love and support for those around you.

One more thing: If you are in ministry or are anticipating an entry into ministry and would like a resource on the subject of staff relations (pre- and post-hiring), there is a book you should read called How To Thrive In Associate Staff Ministry, by Kevin E. Lawson. I read it while I was in college, and I highly recommend it for anyone who would like to better navigate associate staff life.

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