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?

An Interview With Lynn Anderson — (Part 1 of 2)

sheepThe following is the first part of a two part interview that I did recently with Lynn Anderson of MentorNetwork.  Lynn Anderson has been a significant mentor to me for many years.  From him I have learned so much about what it means to follow Jesus, live with authenticity, and live out my calling as a minister.  I encourage you to visit his new website, MentorNetwork which is a wonderful resource.  By the way, the books that Lynn mentions below, They Smell Like Sheep (Volumes I and II), are both very good and have been very helpful to me.  Part two of this interview will be posted next week.

 

Jim MartinLynn, you’ve written two books on shepherding: They Smell Like Sheep, Volume 1 and Volume 2.  Many ministers, and church leaders in general, are reading these books.  What kind of response are you getting?

Lynn Anderson:  Jim, the response to my shepherding books is beyond anything I might have imagined.  Volume 1 is still selling well 10 years after publication.  And, Volume 2 is steadily gaining altitude a year and a half after release.  Almost every day I hear from readers.  Of course, many readers are pastors and other church leaders but, Jim, I get regular feedback from ordinary folks in the pew as well: moms and dads, small group leaders, even Little League coaches, and even some business managers.  People  are very kind in their feedback.  And we can’t even begin to accept all of the requests for seminars and retreats on these books.  My prayer is that God is using these books to encourage Christian leaders.

Jim Martin: It seems that many ministers get into a rut and become stale in their ministries.  How does a minister stay fresh?  What have you done through the years to remain fresh and vibrant?

Lynn Anderson: What an important question, Jim, and one that I hear very often.  Honestly, I wish I had a silver bullet here.  Truth is, I cycle between flat places and mountain peaks myself.  Possibly it’s the way some of us are wired.

However, along the way I have found that some very ordinary things "feed my freshness."  I can’t guarantee they will fit everyone.

  • Sabbaths help me a lot.  Not specifically meaning classical weekly "Sabbath keeping" — "remembering the Sabbath Day and keeping it holy."  Rather, my Sabbaths are mostly merely intentional periods to unplug from demands and action to just be quiet and try to pay attention to God.  I am not talking about recreation here, or hobbies, etc. but rather about focused quietness.  Maybe an hour in the early morning, before phones ring and doors swing.  Possibly a long, quiet walk away from streets and highways.  Maybe a weekend with a couple of good books.
  • A homely thing like journaling always helps too.  It forces me to slow down and reflect and to re-prioritize on the move.
  • And, of course, prayer.  My prayer path surrounds the Psalms.  I try to pray a Psalm a day and to memorize a Psalm a month.  Keeps deepening and stretching me, keeps my prayer life fresh and keeps me "in front of God."  Frankly, prayer has never been very "automatic" with me.  But the longer I live, the more "spontaneous" it becomes, and the more I love it.  Without prayer, my world grows cold and empty.
  • Plus, I must have significant "face time" with soul-enriching people — people who read and pray and think a lot.  People who give fresh perspective and insight.  People who listen and encourage.