This week’s question is from a Rev who has found online support for her ministry in the RevGalBlogPal community. Now, she is looking forward to relating to come colleagues in real life.
In the first years of my ministry, I served a rural congregation with no nearby clergy colleagues. The RevGalBlogPals online community was my lifeline. Still, I longed for a local clergy group or some in-person colleagues. I felt like one of those “lone ranger” pastors, and that’s not a good thing, right?
I have recently moved to a metro area to accept a new call. Here, there are many churches and pastors. I have every opportunity to develop professional relationships with other pastors.
I hope you all can give me ideas:
What makes colleagues good colleagues?
What is important to do/be if I am to be a supportive colleague?
Are there any pitfalls to avoid?
If you’ve been part of a clergy group, what structure or agenda was most helpful?
I am open to all of your ideas.
Our Matriarchs have some ideas for you, Rev.:
Dear Rev. Colleague-Ready,
RevGalBlogPals is our lifeline! Even for those of us who are in metro areas. I am excited for you and the future opportunities for community which will come your way.
I have several communities of support. Each of them special in their own way.
Within the support structure of my denomination, PC(USA), we have a women clergy support group. We share lunch and conversation and ministry ideas. We also commit to be there for each other for pastoral coverage when we are on vacation and when there are personal needs.
I am also part of a covenanted Spiritual Support Group. We pay a Spiritual Director to lead us and we meet once a month for four hours. We are made up of clergy from several denominations and we have intentional study, prayer and sharing time. This group works well because we have a paid Spiritual Director who keeps us healthy and accountable.
I also have several close clergy friends with whom I have lunch or dinner on a regular basis. These are valuable relationships because the give-and-take is healthy and balanced.
In all of my support groups, I value the honesty, the accountability, the friendships, and the spiritual connection.
Blessings on your new call and new relationships.
Rev. Kelley Wehmeyer Shin
Dear Rev. C-R,
To make a good colleague — ENCOURAGE*.
to be a supportive colleague — ENCOURAGE*
pitfalls to avoid: do not assemble with colleagues IN ORDER TO COMPLAIN. NOT EVER.
somewhere on the agenda there should be FOOD AND DRINK (not necessarily strong drink).
*In the category of ENCOURAGE, I include PRAISE. Somebody said, “Remember that to be stingy with praise is a sure sign of personal mediocrity.” Maybe it was La Rochefoucauld. We can blame/credit him for the time being, anyhow.
If you would like to read the Long Version of the above, I recommend Doris Kearns Goodwin’s Team of Rivals (it’s about A Lincoln and his cabinet, and i think it should be required reading in seminaries).
blessings on your collegiality!
The two Matriarchs above are some of my cherished colleagues. Thank you for your wise counsel.
How about you, dear reader? Are you looking for a good colleague? Have you developed some good collegial relationships? Share your ideas below.
Are you facing an especially tough ministry challenge? Could you use some advice on a possible next step? Send your scenario to askthematriarch (at) gmail (dot) com for the Matriarchs’ ideas.
Rev. Sharon M. Temple is a United Church of Christ pastor serving in Nashville TN. She is a contributor to the RevGals book, “There’s a Woman in the Pulpit” and blogs erratically at Tidings of Comfort and Joy.
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