An Interview With Lynn Anderson (Part 2 of 2)

andersonThe following is the second part of an interview with Lynn Anderson, director of MentorNetwork.  Lynn is an author, long time minister, and an encourager/mentor to many.  This interview is simply a sample of his ministry as he reflects on staying fresh for the long haul.  (You can find Part 1 here.)  Next Monday, I will begin posting a series of video interviews that I did with Lynn which you might find very encouraging.  In the meantime, you might enjoy checking out his MentorNetwork website.  Lynn’s own blog is there which you might find very interesting and helpful as well.

 

Jim Martin:    Many of us wrestle with the sheer amount of work to be done, not to mention the overwhelming nature of the emotion involved.  We go from funerals to weddings to a child’s soccer game, all of which elicit different emotions.  What can a person do to remain emotionally healthy while in ministry?

Lynn Anderson:    True, the emotional toll of ministry can gradually erode our emotional and mental health.  In fact, the torque on the psyche can be so distorting that I recommend that ministers periodically go through some sort of psychological analysis — whether through some introspective "self-examination" instrument or book or retreat.  I even recommend occasional sessions with a counselor or mental health professional as a sort of "gut-check."  That can sound unnerving, but possibly the very fact we fear or resist that idea may itself be a red flag.

Of course, by all means I have to get regular exercise — I walk and jog several miles, three to five times a week.  This clears the cobwebs and releases the "happy" endorphins or whatever they are.

In the heat of ministry, we absolutely must find a rhythm between "service and reflection," between "the masses and the mountain," between "giving and receiving."  Between people who are "draining" and people who are "energizing."  I can go flat when I keep "giving out" without "taking in."  But on the other hand, I can also go flat by "taking in and taking in" without "giving out" — become bookish and detached — flat.  Also I find it emotionally and spiritually refreshing to build variety into ministry functions — so I am not stuck on a daily treadmill, but get re-invigorated by a change of pace, scene and task.

Good music and good books feed me as well — even quality novels and the classics.  And, I need time to just plain have fun, with Carolyn or the family, or friends.  Just rare back and laugh a while.

After reading Lynn Anderson’s thoughts about staying fresh, I would enjoy hearing your own.  What do you do to stay fresh?  What has been helpful to you?  Is this a challenge for you?

Question: Have You Been Blessed By a Godly Mentor?

coffee30.jpgI have been blessed by several Godly mentors in my life.  People like James Long, Charles Coil, and Lynn Anderson have mentored me at critical times in my life.  I am thankful for their words, their example and for their influence. 

 
Can you point to a man or woman who has been critical in your development as a Christ-follower?  How did this person impact your life?

A Mentored Life

coffeecup4.jpgI recently read an article in the latest edition (2008) of the Journal of Beeson Divinity School (Samford University, Birmingham, Alabama).  The article, entitled "A Mentored Life," was written by Dr. Russell J. Levenson Jr.  In the article, Levenson describes his relationship with one of his mentors: John Claypool. (Claypool is the author of Tracks of a Fellow Struggler and other fine books.  Claypool died in 2005.)

 
The article speaks of what Levenson learned from his mentor.

This care and love continued throughout my ministry, both when I was under his supervision and when I left to go on to my first and subsequent calls to parish leadership.  John made certain to remember my family and me through phone calls, letters, and on holidays.  He was always willing to talk when there had been a rough week or when I faced a personal dilemma.  A leading author on leadership, Klaus Bockmuehl, writes in his book Living By the Gospel (Helmers & Howard, 1986), "Shepherding people means to help them grow: it demands thoughtfulness about ‘how to make the other one great’ and it implies nothing less than the act of true friendship for others."  Ultimately, selfless friendship is what the mentored life is all about.  Thankfully, that’s exactly what I received from John.  (6)

 
We rarely hear or read of mutual relationships any more.  We seem to laud and magnify the individual and pay homage to "self-made" men and women, rather than recognize the relationships that undergird those successes.  I was often baffled by seminarians who so eagerly wished to begin "on their own."  There is a wealth of knowledge and experience in those who have gone before us, and if we are willing, we will learn and grow by sitting quietly at the feet of others as so many did at the feet of our Lord.  It is crucial in our self-centered world to live up to the call to humbly share our lives with others, while also being willing to receive the lives shared. (8)

Have you ever had such a mentor in your life?  Have you ever desired such a mentor?

Mentoring

coffee16.jpgWhom do you learn from? 

 
I am grateful to have had the opportunity to learn from some wonderful people.  I have been fortunate enough to learn about life and ministry from some very good people.  I am thankful for these people who allowed me to peek into their lives and ministries.  I am also grateful that these people cared enough to ask me good questions about my life and ministry and on occasion provide me with some needed direction.

 
Yesterday, I was reading an article by Luci Shaw in the newest issue of Books and Culture (January/February 2008).  Shaw has written an article in which she reflects upon her friendship with author Madeleine L’Engle, who passed away in 2007.  She writes:

Madeleine and I both loved to trace words back to their origins.  When the word "companion" came under scrutiny, we realized that it referred to those who ate bread together.  She observed that when feuding countries forged some kind of peace accord and shook hands for the cameras, it didn’t mean much.  But if they sat down to a meal together, with bread and salt, it spoke of something more profound.  The Lord’s Table, with Eucharistic bread and wine, was the feast that joined us together.  We regularly walked to noon Eucharist at the Cathedral of St. John the Divine, a few blocks from Madeleine’s home in Manhattan.  And if the weather was too severe we’d stay indoors, thankful for God’s presence in the fellowship of tuna sandwiches. 

 

There can be something very significant about experiencing a meal or even a cup of coffee together.  Again, I think about some of these moments in my life which were very meaningful to me.  A few that stand out at the moment include:
 

  • A long, lingering lunch with my friend Prentice, who at that time was preaching in Dallas.  We were at a restaurant near his office.  This was the first time I had spent any significant time with him.  I was full of questions and concerns about my life/ministry.  He listened thoughtfully and with great patience responded to my questions.  He didn’t seem to be in a hurry.
  • A meal I shared with Lynn, my friend of many years.  He asked me questions about my marriage, my relationships, and my walk with God.  As we drove back to the Pepperdine campus, he challenged me (in an encouraging way) to break a relational cycle which had been present in my family for many years.
  • A lunch shared with my friend John, an attorney, whom I first met with in his office about eight years ago.  Lunch was brought in and for the next hour and a half, we talked about life, ministry, and the Lord.  I was impressed and moved by his genuine interest in me.  I will always remember that first lunch when he closed our time together by praying for me.

Through the years, I have also had the opportunity to be that person for some other people.  A person will call and say, "Could we talk?"  I pray about that moment before I meet with that person.  I pray that the Lord will help me listen and have the wisdom to know how to respond.  I thank God for the privilege of getting to visit with another about that person’s life and ministry.  Who knows?  The Lord may use that time with that person in a significant way.

 
Have you experienced significant moments (for you) like the ones I described above?