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Becoming a Pastor:: Forming Self and Soul for Ministry (Revised, Updated)

Becoming a Pastor:: Forming Self and Soul for Ministry (Revised, Updated)

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Becoming a Pastor:: Forming Self and Soul for Ministry (Revised, Updated)

Lunghezza:
397 pagine
5 ore
Pubblicato:
May 15, 2014
ISBN:
9780829820867
Formato:
Libro

Descrizione

Revised and updated edition of a best-selling leadership and ministry guide! Whether you're a pastor or church leader, says Hamman, you're called to do the following for yourself: develop a deeper sense of inner security; nurture your imagination; embrace your dark side; become aware of your emotions; see others as they really are; and engage in life with a sense of playfulness. Hamman equips you to do all of this and more. Get ready for a transformation in your personal ministry and in your relationship with God—and become the best pastor you can be!
Pubblicato:
May 15, 2014
ISBN:
9780829820867
Formato:
Libro

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Becoming a Pastor: - Jaco J. Hamman

writing.

Introduction

CREATED TO SEEK

TRANSFORMATION

You and I were created to seek experiences and relationships that promise transformation of our sense of self. Most often the transformation is in the service of emotional, relational, spiritual, or even cognitive growth, but sometimes the transformation we seek actually inhibits or undoes holistic growth. The Book of Genesis introduces God as the Creator who formed this world and then transformed creation when God realized Adam was alone. Genesis 3:1–7, a section of Scripture we often refer to as the fall of humanity, plays a central role in how we see human nature. Interpreting these verses often leaves us feeling guilty and in need of salvation (the guilty self) or naked and ashamed and in need of covering our nakedness (the tragic self). Especially verse 6, however, provides a different image, that of being created to seek transformative experiences:

When the woman saw that the fruit of the tree was good for food and pleasing to the eye, and also desirable for gaining wisdom, she took some and ate it. She also gave some to her husband, who was with her, and he ate it. (Gen. 3:6)

The phrase and also desirable for gaining wisdom is a hapax legomena, a phrase used nowhere else in Scripture. We therefore need to pay careful attention to this phrase. Tradition consistently interprets this verse in terms of guilt, sin, temptation, and lust, a legacy at times ascribed to Augustine. However, verse 6 describes Eve as a person wanting to transform herself by gaining knowledge. Her primary motivation was not I want to disobey God; rather, she acted on one of the deepest forces God places in each of us: the desire to transform her self.

By seeking this additional understanding of Genesis 3, I am not pretending that sin does not exist. Becoming a Pastor: Forming Self and Soul for Ministry exposes and addresses many sinful attitudes and behaviors we leaders enjoy, ranging from a pharisaic rigidity to clandestine use of pornography to masochistically working ourselves to death. Scripture says the fruit was desirable (Hebrew hamad). Even though hamad can mean desire or lust, which has sexual connotations, it also means a deep longing. Reflecting on verse 6, commentator Claus Westermann writes that "[Humanity] is created with a strong desire to know, and to enhance its existence through knowledge."¹ Westermann does not develop this thought of seeking enhancement any further, but Adriaan Van Selms, in his commentary, does give us a glimpse of what that enhancement might look like. Van Selms states that Eve sought spiritual growth or awakening.² The transformation she sought was soul transformation. Thus, the allure of the fruit is not to be found in the fruit itself and it certainly does not reside in sexual pleasure. Rather, it is found in the promise that was awakened in the very hearts and souls of Adam and Eve that they can become new beings. Satan exploited this deep desire for transformation within the souls of Adam and Eve.

Some might think that Adam and Eve had it all but wanted more. I see them merely as living into the image of the God who first formed and then transformed creation. Sadly, Adam and Eve—as you and I often do—sought transformation from a person and a relationship that could not offer them what was promised and what they desired. Imagine what would happen to theology and our understanding of human nature if we also preached that Adam and Eve sought self-transformation and that we rightly do too! This narrative reminds us to choose our transformational experiences and agents with wisdom.

Genesis 3 identifies at least three paths we can follow: the path of guilt, the path of shame, and the path of the transformation of self and soul. Of course, these paths are not mutually exclusive and Becoming a Pastor follows all three. So a basic premise of this book is that we were created to seek experiences that transform self and soul.

Psychology, which seeks to understand who we are and what motivates us, knows our potential for transformation. Picture this: An infant, merely a couple of months old, lies in her crib and looks at her mother’s face. The mother has a smile on her face. Within moments the baby girl smiles too. The mother is then asked to portray a neutral, still face. Mother stops smiling. Within moments the baby girl’s smile disappears. The infant’s face is now expressionless, if not somewhat uncertain. Then the mother is asked to show a sad, downcast face. Within seconds the baby girl’s face changes from being expressionless to also looking sad. This experiment, first photographed by psychologist Daniel Stern, shows that unresponsive behavior from the mother causes negative emotional reactions, indicative of frustration, depression, or shame in the infant.³ Mother’s responsive behavior, or course, has the opposite effect. The mother’s sense of sense of self transforms the infant’s self-experience. In a matter of moments the baby girl goes from being happy and cooing to being sad and silent, all this merely by looking attentively at her mother. As a mother or primary caregiver engages an infant, gazing into the other’s eyes and responding to basic needs, the mother or caregiver communicates to the infant a way of being that becomes the infant’s sense of self.

Complementing Stern, other scholars of psyche and soul have identified mothers and caregivers as transformational agents, for the relationship between infant and mother forms the relational structure of the infant’s sense of self.⁴ It is this sense of self that determines how an infant relates to her inner world as well as to the outside world.

Born to seek out transformational agents and experiences, you too desire relationships or experiences that will alter your self-experience. It is this very search for transformation that might have prompted your discernment to enter seminary, your desire to be a leader, or your reaching out for this book. You learn from your mentor(s), a supervisor, or possibly a spiritual director; you listen to music and engage culture. You read Scripture and nurture your personal relationship with God. You have experienced many significant relationships and experiences that have transformed your sense of self. Some of us obsessively seek transformational experiences, selling our souls to partners or ideologies. Some of us build our identities around doing things, for when we take action we experience less anxiety. We do this not only to remember existentially the preverbal relationship we first had with our first caretakers, but because our souls constantly seek out transformational experiences.

Yet we should not confuse our search for transformational experiences that alter our sense of self with sanctification. Sanctification is the process of restoration or renewal of persons that follows our salvation and justification in Christ. Sanctification is the work of God in which God’s people can cooperate. The Westminster Larger Catechism describes our sanctification in terms of grace, as the work of the Triune God, and as a process of renewal, strengthening, and being raised to a new life.⁵ With the help of God’s Spirit we become more Christ-like as our intellect, affections, will, soul, and body are transformed. Our becoming and our sanctification have much in common, despite being qualitatively different. Both processes imply a developmental path that does not lead to perfection, and both have moral value and address the inner nature and outward presence of our beings.

The Christian faith, since the time of the Church Fathers, has rejected consistently the tenet that we can become Christ-like by ourselves. As Jesus said: Remain in me, and I will remain in you. No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me (John 15:4). This then is the paradox we have to hold: We seek transformation but we cannot sanctify ourselves. When we try to circumvent this paradox, either by placing emphasis on only one of these processes or by arguing that they are the same process, we diminish both. Rather, through the work of God’s Spirit and through the incarnational presence of Christ in other persons and in the church, we are transformed in body, soul, and mind. We too pray the prayer of the Apostle Paul to the Thessalonians: May God . . . , the God of peace, sanctify [us] through and through. May [our] whole spirit, soul and body be kept blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ (1 Thess. 5:23). The process of you becoming a pastor and the process of your sanctification are inextricably connected, for becoming is not merely seeking transformation; it also describes God’s work of grace in our lives. Many of us are becoming even as we are sanctified. All of us need someone who can listen with authority in our lives.

Not Being Understood

Reverend A’isha is the youth pastor of Third Eden Baptist Church. While still in high school she started volunteering at the church into which she was born. Upon completion of her communications degree, Reverend Emmanuel, the founder of the church, offered A’isha full-time employment there. With her mother, she lives with her grandmother, Mavis. Mavis is a founding member of Third Eden. A’isha has no significant relationship with her father, who created a new family in another state. Growing up, the strongest message A’isha remembers receiving from her mom and Grandma was that she is special and destined to be a leader. Because she is saving for a house down payment, she has opted to move back home after finishing college. This has been mostly good, she states. Mom and Grandma know I need space.

A’isha has growing frustration in her ministry. Her frustration became personal during two recent mentoring sessions when first she cancelled the appointment feeling she needed a personal day after an especially hectic week at church. During another meeting she answered an important phone call, which prompted Reverend Emmanuel to question her presence in the meeting. But the frustration is not about how to engage in self-care or meeting etiquette. The sources of frustration are primarily twofold: First, although Reverend Emmanuel has been mentoring her, A’isha feels that he does not understand her. He is in his early sixties and with three sons in their late thirties has difficulty relating to a twenty-three-year-old single woman. She knows he has good intentions, but she does not believe he can help her mature into a leader. He is better able to relate to Grandma, A’isha thinks. Also, Reverend Emmanuel has built Third Eden through prayer and willpower and can be controlling and protective of his ministry. He believes in prayer marathons and Bible studies and community dinners. A’isha has different goals: she wants the congregation to speak out against the payday loan companies around church, find ways to help the unemployed in the congregation, and rethink their worship style to speak more to the youth. Reverend Emmanuel does not think getting involved in politics is important, and thinks that their worship has been blessed for many years and is therefore in no need of change. Recently he told her that he does not appreciate A’isha supporting the younger members of the congregation who fully immerse themselves in youth culture with tattoos, piercings, saggy clothing, and more. If only he knew of A’isha’s tattoos and how she dislikes all-night prayer sessions.

A’isha does get support from her mom and grandma, but she feels that even they do not understand her. They are loyal to Reverend Emmanuel and grateful that he gave her employment that brought her back home. A’isha is wondering how she’ll become the leader she wants to be, the leader she feels called to be, if she stays at Third Eden. She is getting restless but does not know how to tell Reverend Emmanuel or her mom and grandmother that. She also does not know what might be the best next career step for her; the fact is that staying at Third Eden and living with her mom and grandma does have financial benefits. She has no theology degree but wonders whether having one might help her ministry and career. She does not know whom she can trust to speak to. The adults seem too old, and her friends do not quite understand her choice of accepting employment at her home church. Maybe, she thinks, she can call Professor Butler, her communications teacher, and ask for advice. But she has not been in touch with Professor Butler for two years and finds herself reluctant to resume contact.

Like A’isha, you and I want to and should seek out significant people and experiences that offer the promise of the transformation of our selves. We were created with such a desire.

Which of your experiences might be in need of transformation or can function in a transformational manner?

What parts of your self are in need of transformation?

Who are your transformational agents?

What choices do you habitually make that frustrate your emotional growth and spiritual maturation?

For anyone becoming a pastor or leader in ministry these are important questions to reflect upon. For some of us such reflection will bring revitalization to our sense of call and for others it will help sustain longevity of call. José, whom I will introduce next, wonders about his theological education and, like A’isha, does not have great conversation partners.

DO I NEED THIS?

José is a third-career seminary student. He taught English to Spanish-speaking adults, built and lost a few businesses, and then became a student. Now in his early fifties, José wonders whether his latest choice was a good one. Active in his local church, he experienced a spiritual awakening and clearly heard God’s voice one evening in worship. God told him to get out of the insurance business and study to become a pastor. There is no doubt in José’s mind that God called him to be a leader, and his cell group at church affirmed his call. But now he doubts his decision to come to seminary.

He knows that his family sacrificed much on his behalf. They sold their house so as not to accrue student debt, left behind friends and their home church, moved from another state, and now live in a small three-bedroom student apartment where most neighbors are nearly twenty years his junior. What has been gnawing at José is that he feels his spiritual life is dying. At school they have weekly chapel, but that does not seem enough to nurture his soul. He has entered field education at a church where he visits shut-ins, teaches an adult education class, and is a worship leader. Prayer and being part of a small group, practices that carried him in years past, have all but disappeared. He feels the peer group at seminary is unsafe and competitive.

José has spoken to two persons at his seminary, a professor he felt close to and the admissions officer who worked with him and his family in the transition to seminary. Both encouraged him to give himself time to settle in. Yet neither admitted that spiritual nurture was not a primary focus of the seminary, something José wanted to hear. He wondered about their personal prayer practices and whether they recognized his Hispanic roots. He decided they have good reason to protect the status quo and receive his tuition dollars. José needs a community that prays and grows together and someone who can listen to his frustration and meet him in his disappointment. He has yet to find these transformational agents in his current setting.

ANTICIPATING BECOMING A PASTOR: FORMING SELF AND SOUL FOR MINISTRY

I trust that you are being pulled into these pages, already engaging the thoughts and possibilities they carry and that you are curious about what is to come. The chapters of the book are all interrelated; for example, playfulness, which is addressed in the last chapter, is impossible without a sense of inner security, which is addressed in the first chapter, since play brings forth powerful emotions we need to hold. Like a web, the capacities discussed here are all interwoven, each a thread that helps support the whole. Even though there is a logical unfolding of the chapters, each chapter is independent and you should feel free to skip ahead if one chapter interests you more than another.

I have spent more than twenty years actively engaged in ministry, primarily in hospital chaplaincy, pastoral psychotherapy, and teaching. Along the way, I met Donald Woods Winnicott, a creative and innovative theorist who introduced me to the capacities that form the foundation of Becoming a Pastor.

Donald Winnicott (1896–1971), a British pediatrician and psychoanalyst who saw himself as an amateur theologian, was a key figure in establishing the post-Freudian school of object relations theory.⁷ Object relations theory focuses on early childhood, primarily the first three to four years of one’s life. Winnicott recognized that we are not so much driven by our instincts (as Freud had insisted) as that we search for and are shaped by our first relationships.

Winnicott observed in infants the gradual formation of the self, a self that is capable of having an experience that is real. This search for the real, I imagine, is something similar to seeking and experiencing the life of abundance that Jesus describes (John 10:10). Winnicott sees this search to be real as a primitive task that is never completed.⁸ With his playful spirit, I can hear Winnicott say: Sir, madam, you are cordially invited to continue your work on achieving the capacity to believe, a task you already started in your infancy. Becoming a Pastor envisions an exciting journey of transformation.

The first chapter, new to the second edition, explores being a member of a specific generation. It discusses general traits of the members of the three distinct generations most likely to read the book: Late Baby Boomers, Gen Xers, and Millennials. The chapter summarizes what generational theorists, business professionals, scholars, and researchers have learned about how members from the different generations function, and also how they interact with one another. The chapter asks: What are the unique aspects of becoming a leader in ministry if you are a Late Boomer? Or an Xer? Or a Millennial?

The second chapter identifies a deep sense of inner security, self-confidence, and general well-being as a core trait of a spiritually, emotionally, and relationally mature person. We meet Jesus as such a person in his I am the bread, the way, the vine . . . statements. This chapter addresses the capacity to believe, by getting you to look at your inner space, the very nature of your soul, that deeply personal foundation that determines your sense of self. It asks: How would you describe your inner space? When and how do you engage your inner space? As a person of faith, believing in God, how do you deepen your ability to hold that belief? The capacity to believe also speaks to a deep emotional and relational hunger some of us have. Typically we try to satisfy this hunger by excessively consuming food and drink, material possessions, images and thoughts, or even the emotional lives of others. Not to be confused with a narcissism that leaves us vulnerable, the capacity to believe describes the true self that proactively and creatively engages reality. This chapter introduces the structure of the chapters to follow. It identifies the capacity that speaks of your inner security; it helps you to recognize your personal and ministerial competencies; and it gives you practical guidelines on how to cultivate and strengthen authentic self-confidence as a core competency.

Chapter 3 addresses imagination as a core competency for ministry. This is a chapter that looks at how to live imaginatively in the in-between world, the one between subjectivity and objectivity, between your own thoughts and the thoughts you receive from others. It describes a way of looking at things. Imagination is hearing the mother complain that her teenage son is rebellious and seeing that the son is rebellious as a way of crying out against a mother and father’s distant relationship. Imagination is listening to a person describe the details of her chemotherapy and envisioning empathically the helplessness and loneliness she is experiencing. How does imagination inform your preaching, teaching, and caring? How do you nurture your imagination? What is the cost to you personally and to your ministry if you can see only the objective, rational world?

The fourth chapter calls on you to have concern for persons and creation, even as you embrace your own dark side. It is a chapter on loving and hating and repairing relationships. For us as Christians, who often are called upon to love, embracing our own aggression and destructiveness is a difficult process of maturation. So the chapter asks: In close personal relationships or in community, how do you stay emotionally connected when tension enters the relationship? What angers you, and how do you manage your anger? What boundaries do you find difficult to keep? The integration of love and hate is named as central to achieving the capacity for concern, that potential that fuels a desire to help or rescue. Lack of this capacity comes forward in someone who does the emotional/spiritual work of others, since not doing so is experienced as causing hurt. This of course is the high road to burnout. When we allow love and hate to embrace in our own selves, it helps us remain in a covenant relationship with a prodigal people.

Chapter 5 describes the ability to recognize and contain powerful emotions in a one-body relationship (your own) and to enter into appropriate and responsible two-body or multibody relationships when needing to do so. This chapter addresses the paradoxical capacity of being alone in the presence of other people. Ministry is impossible without relationships; persons always surround you, yet you are fundamentally alone with your thoughts, actions, and desires. The capacity to be alone is about knowing something but keeping confidences and not telling. Or it is about knowing something and telling, because that is the appropriate thing to do. The chapter asks: How do you contain juicy bits of information, those nuggets of knowledge you so desperately want to share? How do you discern whether to share information or to intervene or not? What do you do if sexual chemistry muddies a relationship with someone you lead or serve? How much spiritual, emotional, and/or relational hurt will you carry before you reach out to someone who can become a transformational agent to you? In leadership, gaining the core competency to be alone in the presence of others is essential to becoming a pastor.

Chapter 6 addresses the difficult challenge of entering into relationships mindful of the preconceived notions of the other person that you bring to the relationship. All of us carry such beliefs and we rely upon them to protect ourselves in relationships where the other person is essentially autonomous and an unknown mystery. What preconceived notions do you have about the kid using drugs, the single adult, the victim of interpersonal violence, the gay couple who parent, the homeless person you encounter . . . ? Whom do you see as us and whom do you see as them? In the words of the Jewish scholar Martin Buber, do you experience others as a Thou or an It, a subject or an object?⁹ The capacity to discover the other/Other, discussed in this sixth chapter in the metaphor to use or be used, is crucial for the experience of intimacy and mutuality, to relate to another person or God using your innermost and whole being. It calls for openness and an attitude that invites dialogue with others as they educate you about their joys and hopes, their fears and concerns.

Chapter 7 addresses the core competency of being playful. The capacity to play relies on all the other capacities. Becoming a Pastor invites us to be playful—not to be confused with being childish. Playfulness is suggestive of a secure inner space, imagination, comfortableness with the strong emotions play can induce, the ability to contain those emotions in a one-body relationship, and more. Where and how does a playful spirit inform your leadership? When does the playful child in you become childish and egocentric, or engage in rough play? How can you maintain a playful spirit amidst the seriousness of life and ministry? To have a playful spirit will enable you to live into your call despite the inevitable changes that will occur within you and in your ministry context. Such a spirit, of course, is also central to experiencing longevity of call.

The conclusion asks: What now? In exploring this question, I hope to empower you as you embark on a journey of formation, transformation, a journey of nurturing the six core competencies from which every leader can benefit. This journey is an exciting and life-long process and makes a life of ministry worth living!

The book’s final pages contain an annotated glossary of terms of core constructs used in the book. Added especially for this second edition, readers unfamiliar with D. W. Winnicott and object relations theory might even find it helpful to read the glossary first.

AN INVITATION THAT DEMANDS COURAGE

Many of us live most of the time as strangers to ourselves. Poets know the importance of discovering oneself anew, of coming home to oneself. As Derek Walcott wrote, You will love again the stranger who was your self.¹⁰ Becoming a Pastor is an invitation to befriend the stranger who resides in the depths of your soul.

The Christological overtones of Walcott’s poem are obvious. What an invitation, to nurture yourself and to discover a new you! Walcott reminds us that we hold lovely memories and moments in the form of love letters and photographs, but we also have some desperate notes of hurt, fear, anxiety, and abandonment. He knows the stranger we are to ourselves.

Strangers to Ourselves is the title of a thought-provoking book by the French linguist and psychoanalyst Julia Kristeva.¹¹ Kristeva argues that we remain strangers to ourselves and thus a foreigner or alien lives in each of us. It is our relationship with this stranger, she contends, that fuels hatred and rage to the stranger we meet from a foreign country or a different group. Besides the strong emotions of hatred and rage, we experience mental impoverishment when we deny the stranger inside ourselves. Such denial further opens the way to act out an inner anxiety. How do you hear Kristeva on being a stranger to yourself? What might be the price for you if you decide to continue to live not knowing yourself? How will your preaching, teaching, and caring change if you no longer live as a stranger to yourself?

Kristeva sounds a serious warning for us who lead and rely mostly on words in doing so. Talking about the plight of a stranger, she states that a stranger experiences void or baroque speech. The community, Kristeva writes, has no interest in the contribution of a stranger:

Your speech, fascinating as it might be on account of its very strangeness, will be of no consequence, will have no effect, will cause no improvement in the image or reputation of those you are conversing with. One will listen to you only in absent-minded, amused fashion, and will forget you in order to go on with serious matters.¹²

Imagine a ministry where words are often used, words that tradition once showed as powerful, now only to be experienced as words that hold little sustaining power, even if they initially stirred the interest of listeners. This, of course, is the reality A’isha is experiencing. Imagine welcoming new members into your community when you remain a stranger to yourself.

When we meet the stranger who is us, some of us lose our voice while others hide behind formalism. Some of us speak with excessive sophistication that no one can follow or we speak with dazzling eloquence, under the illusion that the audience is captivated by what we are saying. Some of us become a dominating presence, rarely empowering the body of Christ to function as a body. Some of us choose to live a disembodied life, prizing the life of the mind and dismissing as irrelevant or secondary physical, bodily work and ministry. Yet others of us become a mere presence from whom no contribution can be expected. And some of us welcome the stranger home, enriched by the new relationship.

Of course, full knowledge of self is not possible in this life, and ordination implies being set apart, a sort of stranger within the community. Yet, by writing this book, I am inviting you to strengthen six core competencies of ministry and to become aware of your own strengths and weaknesses as you seek to learn and grow in what you do. I invite you, as a member of a specific generation, to become a pastor and leader in God’s world, to be becoming of a privilege to serve the Triune God. If you accept this invitation, I have no doubt that you will benefit greatly. The transformation, however, will be much richer if you invite a few colleagues with you on the journey.

ONE

BEING A BOOMER, AN XER, OR A MILLENNIAL

Today’s Pastoral Leaders

Come, follow me.

—Jesus of Nazareth

It is true that the continuity of all cultures depends on the living presence of at least three generations.

—Margaret Mead, Culture and Commitment

We live our lives from then until now By the mercies received over the

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