One thing I’ve noticed about being a minister is that the
longer you are in a church the harder it is to separate your own thoughts about
the church situation from your own sense of identity.
In the early day’s it easier to see things because you
approach them with fresh eyes; though you have no idea of the reason why things
are the way they are. Years later, you are part of the history that makes
things the way they are.
In some ways this coming together is a good thing. People
have argued it is the essence of incarnational ministry and probably arises
from the fact ministers care about the church and its people. But I also suspect it has some less healthy aspects:
1. If your sense of identity is so wrapped up in the church
and your ministry there, it can become hard to help the church make changes
which are not ‘enhancements’ to your ministry and its success.
2. Over time the church reflects more of your own strengths
and weaknesses, or at least your limitations as a minister. If you are too
close, it is hard to help the church make use of others who bring other gifts.
3. Your own sense of wellbeing is intimately tied up with
how well the church is doing. Which when things are tough is detrimental to
A healthy ministry keeps some differentiation between minister and church.
Neil, isn’t this why we need others … being part of network, association, union … why perhaps we should be unafraid to ask others to help us see ourselves – both minister and church …