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Resilience for Ministry - Part 2
By : Keith Ridge (Minister to Ministers, SA & NT)
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Roy M Oswald in Clergy Self Care (Alban Institute) encourages ministers to set a balance in their lives between our internal resources and external resources [between doing and being]. He would encourage us to balance our dependency upon our internal resources, that is, our self-sufficiency through the roles in life we fill, our developed skills and abilities, our energy levels and accomplishments, with those resources of life that we draw in from beyond ourselves that allow us to play, to experience our true self in the absence of our role[s], and to experience grace or Sabbath time to just BE. It is by moving into this arena of external resourcing (extra-dependency) that we are able to reinforce our internal task oriented resources.

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Comments / Feedback
Harold Hayward
Stress in ministry is not a new phenomenon but has undoubtedly intensified because of the vastly different needs of the four generations now represented in our churches. Ministerial stress, however, cannot be separated from the rise of stress in the workforce which is impacting families. Community reactions to stress may be reflected in the growing popularity of worship as entertainment, and preaching as inspiration.

Keith has usefully identified some ways of dealing with stress but we ought to be more vigilant in identifying and dealing with its causes. Ironically the appointment of ministers-to-ministers is one such response to symptoms. Once, we appointed evangelists and home missions directors to counsel and develop churches, now we appoint minister-to-ministers (bishops?) to counsel ministers!?

There are many causes of ministerial stress. With love and grace, role conflicts can be negotiated away. But too many seem to be entering ministry with inappropriate perspectives of what ministry entails. This is not helped by the constant holding up of adaptive, entrepreneurial role models which do not fit comfortably with the essentially maintenance nature of core pastoral care. Not all have the necessary personal and leadership skills for ministry and they should be counselled out and assisted financially to relocate.

We need to have a closer look at theological education and its failure to address the real situation in churches. Some students seem to exit from college uncritically believing that we now live in a normless, post-modern world. But they seek to address this normless world with a missional view which they hold normatively (i.e. as “one best way”). With a fundamental contradiction between their world views and their ideas of ministry, it is no wonder they’re stressed.

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