Wednesday, February 07, 2007

Brian McLaren General Session

Of course I love Brian McLaren. See my earlier posts on that.
Here's what he said just now:

       A leadership lesson: becoming a friend to myself

o       Lincoln: I desire so to conduct the affairs of this administration so that if at the end… I have lost every other friend on earth, I shall at least have one friend left, and that friend shall be down deep inside me

       How do I talk to myself as a pastor? Meaner than I would to anyone else?

       What do I expect of myself? Do I allow myself grace?

       How do I respond to my failures? Do I speak to myself with any kind of grace?

       If you’ve got a lot of people criticizing you, and you join them, you’ll be outnumbered.

1.      Acknowledge your pain to God

a.       When you take a lot of pain in, criticisms, etc., acknowledge how extinguishing it can be to the soul – and that you have a soul

2.      Find some non-utilitarian friends, friends who aren’t dependent on your sermon, work, or care. Take hold of the power of generative friendship – it’s worth getting on a plane to spend an afternoon with people who help you rest in the grace of God.

3.      Give yourself permission to create or find safe places – boundaries for protection from toxic people and situations, time and social space to think (plausibility structures).  (Sometimes when people catch your faith, you catch a little of their doubt.)

a.       Thinking is a social action … the more on the margins you are, the harder it is to think – you’re stretching and the margin is stretching… it requires connection and space. When you think with others, the center of gravity shifts (and then a countermovement happens). 

b.      Get a cohort.  And if you burst from the pack, find a new cohort.

4.      Know what recharges you .. and do it religiously. Beauty, laughter, rest, sport, art, stupid movies.

a.       And when possible, delegate or drop what drains you.

b.      Realize that ministry is not life – You have to “smoke what you’re selling” (Rob Bell). If you’re telling people to be grounded in God and care, if you’re telling them that work is not life: remember.

c.       Being a pastor is your job, not your whole ministry, not your whole life.

d.      Give yourself permission to have a life.

5.      Do pre-emptive communication: communicate clearly and redundantly and wisely – even if you aren’t certain, communicate.

a.       Do not answer a badly framed question: reframe them or deconstruct them.

b.      Ask needed questions.

c.       (“I have defended myself, but I have never regretted being kind.”)

6.      Expect criticism

a.       Prepare for it in solitude (with God)

b.      Process with friends

c.       Respond in solitude (with God)

7.      Lean into God. Believe God is for you. Stay in touch, even in doubt, maintain first order disciplines (the praying, the reading, the giving, the serving, the friendships, even when your theology about it falls apart and you don’t believe anything you’re ever preached about it.). Rely on your friends’ faith while yours is in pain.

8.      Admit what you must do, what you cannot do, and what you cannot not do.

9.      Allow yourself to be human – boldly: strengths, weaknesses, work, rest, intensity, latency, public, private, sexuality, intimacy, money, family.

a.       The great martyrs of the faith didn’t ask their spouses to go with them. Garrison Keillor

b.      A special note to young men: there is something in us as men that wants to conquer and compete, to prove yourself. In the ministry that thing can get very twisted. So that what looks like passion for God is really just a passion for marking trees.

c.       A special note to women: it’s still pretty closed to women (95/5 in evangelical churches, 85/15 mainline) – dropout rates for women are still high (and they’re higher for men than they used to be): the systemic stresses still get in the way.

d.      It’s not all about me. It’s also people, systems, change.

10.  Spend time, intelligence, money, or energy, you choose, in your professional development – consultants, good books, conferences, vacations, therapists. Invest in yourself.

11.  You don’t have to do this – to be a leader in times of transition – and it’s okay to leave. It’s not evil to leave. But you are needed, and this is a great adventure. Challenging times can destroy us, or they can elicit from us actions and virtues we didn’t even know we had.


Our culture has been orphaned. But maybe the times have changed, and some latent sociability may be elicited from us to nurture the culture, the orphaned world.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I feel nourished already. Thanks for spreading the word. It's good stuff.