The 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?