SPIRITUAL HEALTH OF CLERGY
There is an ancient tale about the cobbler’s children having no shoes while the cobbler helps everyone else repair their shoes. Too often, there is a parallel challenge for pastors who address the spiritual needs of their congregation but neglect to attend to their own spiritual needs. It is easy, for example, to become so focused on providing a quality worship experience for others that you neglect your own worship needs. Since the spiritual health of a congregation may be directly affected by the spiritual health of the pastor, there is value in occasionally reflecting on how to support the pastor in attending to his or her spiritual health.
THE INTERIM LED DISCUSSION
Being a pastor but also speaking on behalf of the future pastor provides the interim with a unique perspective in guiding this discussion with the session.
1. Can the session agenda include at least on a quarterly basis how the pastor nurtures his or her spiritual health? By including it on the agenda, the session both learns about and conveys the importance of the issue.
2. Can the discussion include what pastoral tasks might challenge a pastor’s spiritual health?
3. Can the congregation be educated to the importance of the pastor setting aside specific time for personal prayer and spiritual nurture?
4. Can the congregation’s budget support financially and verbally the pastor meeting regularly with a spiritual adviser?
5. Can the session occasionally take time in their meeting to lay hands on their pastor and pray for his or her ministry?
6. Can the session take time on occasion to step back from their agenda and spend time with the pastor in prayerful examination as to where God is directing the congregation?
7. Can the session examine with the pastor how they might support the pastor in offering spiritual leadership as opposed to managing a religious organization?
8. In times of stress or conflict, how does the session support the pastor in asking what God is saying to all of them at this time?
9. In order to identify what is working spiritually, can a process be developed for members of the congregation to provide feedback on what the pastor does that best nurtures them spiritually?
10. Is the pastor encouraged to use some study leave to focus on spiritual growth?
11. Consider having both the pastor and the members of the session each make a list of ten statements about what it would mean for both the pastor and the membership to be spiritually alive. Then compare the lists and begin to shape a plan for both the pastor and the congregation.
EQUIPPING THE SAINTS
Consider what it conveys to a potential candidate to receive reflections from the session with respect to the above questions. Consider the impact on congregational life for the leadership to emphasize the spiritual life and leadership of their pastor. How does such an emphasis address the responsibility of the church for “equipping the saints?”