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Category Archives: Pastoral Identity

Pastoral Identity – Accountability

Dear God, I’m on to the last area of Pastoral Identity as defined by the Community of Hope International. This will be my last in the series–Attitude, Ability, Authority, and Accountability. I’m teaching these lessons tonight. I pray that you will help me to do this well, and help the attendees glean something from these lessons that will ripple your presence into the community.

Here are my notes about Accountability from the curriculum:

  • Accountability is closely linked to Authority.
    • Four areas of Accountability:
      • You are accountable to God–exercising your gifts within His calling
      • You are accountable to your community and its leaders.
      • You are accountable to your peers in the community to maintain consistent standards
        • Important to provide clear and regular reports from pastoral visits
      • You are accountable to yourself to grow into your Pastoral Identity

One of the most dangerous things is when I am totally unaccountable. I don’t care how great of a person someone is, zero accountability will lead to bad decisions every time.

Here’s a benign example. A friend of mine decided to hike the Appalachian Trail by himself. He got in shape and trained for months. He was ready to go. But after a few days he abandoned. One of the things he told me was that after a couple of days he found that the decisions he was faced with from time to time (e.g. where to stop to eat, where to camp, etc.) became compromised and he started to lose confidence in them without someone else there to run them by.

That’s a simple one. I can use examples from every walk of life. From running a corporation with no accountability to a board of directors, to living alone and having no one to challenge your decisions, we all need accountability. In the case of this lesson, if I go out in your name but I do not submit to be accountable to others then I can pretty much go off in any direction I want, be it theologically or behaviorally, and do some real damage.

Father, help me to foster accountability where I work. Help me to submit to being accountable to my wife, my board of directors, my coworkers, and my friends.

In Jesus’ name I pray,

Amen

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Pastoral Identity – Authority

Dear God, this is day three of me going through the Pastoral Identity curriculum from the Community of Hope. Of the four parts of Pastoral Identity that they list–Attitude, Ability, Authority, and Accountability–I am up to Authority. From the notes I took about this a few years ago, this part looks a little shorter. Here is the outline I put together regarding Authority:

  • The awareness of being an authority, under authority, and conveying authority is evidence of growth in your Pastoral Identity.
    • As a Caregiver, you represent a community–The Community of Hope International.
      • You are accountable to this community because they give you authority to minister.
      • When you carry God’s Spirit to others you exhibit authority in your ministry.
      • You are accountable to the clergy and laypersons over you.

Of course, this curriculum is part of a program this particular church is using so they set up the ministerial program as the authority as the agency that gives the individual the right to minister in the name of the church. But we don’t lead with Authority. we lead with Attitude because that’s the point from which we have to start. Going back to the lesson on Attitude, if we don’t have the right one for this work then we will abuse our Authority and make ourselves a burden on the person to whom we are ministering.

Father, as I live my own life, I am not empowered by any church to speak or minister in its name. I am a simple lay person who represents you, and any Authority I have comes from you. You give me Authority, but I am also under your Authority (as well as under the Authority of my local church), and because of this I can live out this Authority when I interact with others. To the extent I do this, please help me to do it in the most humble of ways.

In Jesus’ name I pray,

Amen

 
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Posted by on February 5, 2018 in Miscellaneous, Pastoral Identity

 

Pastoral Identity – Ability

Dear God, I’ve decided to spend each day going through the four areas of Pastoral Identity listed in the Community of Hope curriculum that I’m teaching on Tuesday night: Attitude, Ability, Authority, and Accountability. Yesterday, I did Attitude. Today, I am up to Ability.

Here is what I have in my PowerPoint slides regarding Ability:

  • Ability means developing and practicing the skills for caring.
    • Listening attentively.
    • Setting aside your own prejudices to be accepting and non-judgmental.
    • Using wisdom to know what to say or not to say in return.
  • Your starting point is authenticity and humility. Then you actively live it out.
    • You must die to any need you have to be affirmed or appreciated.
  • Your commitments.
    • Start and continue the process of self-discovery.
      • How have you related to God?
      • How have you interpreted God’s presence?
      • How have you dealt with your fear and pain?
      • How have you related to others?
      • How have your painful experiences changed you?
  • Learn Pastoral Skills that done come naturally.
    • Listening without trying to fix.
    • Listening without telling your own story.
    • Listening without passing judgment or correcting the other person’s theology.
    • Sitting beside the person, trusting God’s presence to be there with and through you, even when there are no answers to fix the situation.

You know, it’s hard to remember all of this at any given time, but I think it simply comes down to a spirit of humility (going back to Attitude). “As I sit here with you and minister to you, I am actively dying to any need within myself to look good in your eyes.” If I cannot do that then I cannot listen without trying to fix (here, let me give you my solution and have you be impressed with me), listen without telling my own story (here, let me tell you about my suffering so you can feel sorry for me and/or be impressed with how I came through it), listen without passing judgment or correcting the other person’s theology (here, let me show you how you are wrong and what you did wrong), and sit beside the person and trust that your presence will be there to comfort, even when there are no answers to fix the situation (here, let me insert my solution and wisdom here instead of allowing you to work this out with God).

I have been trying to walk this line with someone lately, and it has been hard. I care so much. I see problems that scare me. And I feel some amount of responsibility to help this person because I’m not sure they see some of the dangers ahead. At the same time, I know that this person will not accept my solutions, nor should they without coming to a point where they are actively seeking your will for their life and discerning what you have next for them.

Father, help me to embody your pastoral presence in ever situation. Whether it be with friends, coworkers, family members, or simply people in the community with whom I interact. Help me to decrease so that you might increase. If I am telling my own story in a humble way, which I think is important for all of us to be willing to do, help me to do it in a way that is dead to my own ego and how I hope it will affect what others think about me.

In Jesus’ name I pray,

Amen

 
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Posted by on February 4, 2018 in Miscellaneous, Pastoral Identity

 

Pastoral Identity – Attitude

Dear God, I am supposed to give a talk to a church group on Tuesday night, but it isn’t about the work we do at our nonprofit. Several years ago, a man asked me to come and teach his “Community of Hope” class about the topic of Pastoral Identity. Frankly, the first time I read the materials from which they wanted me to teach, I was overwhelmed by their vocabulary and depth. To put it bluntly, I didn’t understand them. So I took each paragraph and tried to make an outline of it. Then I turned that outline into a PowerPoint presentation. It ended up working pretty well, but now I am supposed to give it again, and I feel like I’m at square one.

I opened the PowerPoint this morning and I found these words: Pastoral Identity is the deep understanding that Jesus lives, breathes, and ministers to others through you. The it lists four aspects of Pastoral Identity: Attitude, Ability, Authority, and Accountability. It’s the slide about Attitude that I want to pray through this morning. Here are the bullet points under Attitude.

  • Willingness to see ourselves objectively and acknowledge God’s grace in our own stories.
    • We will only be able to see ourselves objectively if we receive God’s grace for our failures.
    • Coming to terms with our weaknesses helps us have compassion for others and connect to them.
    • The suffering in our own lives (past and present) helps us connect with those in difficulty.
  • The first trick is to have an Attitude of being honest with ourselves about our weaknesses.
  • What role does fear play in how you or someone else is struggling through a trial?
    • Be careful to not use denial to avoid fear.
  • Walking with someone through their trial requires you to be humble, honest and tender.
    • You cannot take away or fix the situation. Your role is to simply be there.

Oh my! That is pretty good stuff. I cannot minister until I have dealt with my own stuff. I certainly have my failings–too many to enumerate. But your grace released me from the guilt from those failings. you took a knife to the knot in the rope that ties you and me together in our relationship with Jesus’ death and bridged it back through His resurrection. Freedom! I have freedom, and it came through my being willing to let go.

When I pray for others, whether it is friends, family, or my children, if I know they do not have a relationship with you, one of the things I always pray for is that they will be able to let go. Let go of the pain they are hiding and holding on to. Let go of their shame. There is so much freedom to be had, and they just don’t know it.

I guess I’ll close with this. It’s the chorus of a song by Dennis Jernigan called “Song of Hope.” It works for not only non-Christians, but also for Christians who are holding on to their secrets and their shame:

And I wish I could take you heart into my heart
I wish I could show you just how good it feels to let go
Of the things you know are killing you
And cling to the only one who can heal
But I know if I did then it wouldn’t be you
Cuz you, you’re the only one choosing for you, it’s true

In Jesus’ name I pray,

Amen

 
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Posted by on February 3, 2018 in Miscellaneous, Pastoral Identity