Church workers and their households lack helpful models and mentors as they navigate their way through life’s transitions professionally and personally.
The biggest myth about being a mentor is the assumption that to qualify—you have to have life all figured out. In truth, all that is needed is a listening spirit and a humbleness about being just a few twists and turns along the path, ahead of those you get the opportunity to come alongside, for a time. The most important rule for a mentor is: “When in doubt—just hang out!”
Unfortunately, the notion of mentoring has taken on the mantra of: Objects in rear view mirror appear to be losing! In ministry, this means that if you perceive yourself to be a bit ahead of the curve—keep quiet about what you wrestled with, the doubts you had, and how you trusted God to work through it—just let them think you’ve got it all together. Or just tell them the “one secret” to getting there—and enjoy watching them fail.
Every original research reveals questions thought pretty straightforward, that result in profound discoveries—and this one is no different. This group of questions were asked in parallel form of the church worker, and married by their spouse (or on a path that might lead to marriage by their fiancé/significant other). The original purpose was to gauge the work climate in its degree of supporting their current or future family home life. Here they are:
My [spouse/fiancé/significant other's] supervisor(s) is (are) sensitive to church worker family’s need for a healthy balance between work/ministry and my home life;
My [spouse/fiancé/significant other’s] supervisor(s) has (have) a healthy marriage that serves as a model for me; and
My [spouse/fiancé/significant other's] supervisor(s) values and models an appropriate balance between work/ministry and home life
Upon pasting the SPSS output numbers into the graphing matrix, the favorable response options of “Always” and “Most of the time” was unexpectedly low for both church worker and spouse—the sum in the 50% range. The plotting lines were except for the “Does not apply” for the first question of this group: 19% for the church worker; 38% for the church worker spouse. Checked the other two items—smaller difference, but still there.
How can this not apply? On running the SPSS outputs again, I decided to run the numbers from scratch looking first at the ordained minister—and out popped an “ah-ha”. The perception of not having a supervisor, was revealed as .00 (no response ticked) or “Does not apply”.
Tired eyes often reason, try the next question—this can’t be right. Instead the no perception of a supervisor was even greater.
Why not—run the last of the group. Smaller numbers—but still the majority of the Ordained ministers.
In the non-professional world—everyone has a supervisor. Supervisors are uniquely positioned through direct daily employee contact to respond to employee needs, problems, and satisfaction. Supervisors are the direct link between organization’s management and the work force and can be most effective in developing job training, safety attitudes, safe working methods and identifying unsafe acts.
What do supervisors do? Supervision of a group of employees often includes:
Conducting basic management skills (decision making, problem solving, planning, delegation and meeting management)
Organizing their department and teams
Noticing the need for and designing new job roles in the group
Hiring new employees
Training new employees
Employee performance management (setting goals, observing and giving feedback, addressing performance issues, firing employees, etc.)
Conforming to personnel policies and other internal regulations
In the professional world—the assumption is that the standards of education and training that prepare members of the profession with the particular knowledge, skills, and attitudes needed to perform their role within the profession are self-managed by way of standards and practices agreed upon and maintained through recognized professional organizations. Put another way for lead pastors—everyone is their own supervisor.
As such, the above list of functional benefits of the process of supervision are often viewed as “something others need and takes up all my time—and I will get around to my self-supervision when there is a gap in the urgencies.”
The role of supervising professionals is more art and craft than nuts and bolts. It is about leadership—and since the late 1990’s—the task of managing highly qualified and highly effective church workers has almost become a preoccupation, at the Pastor level. The more professional the staff—the more professional the leadership style is pressured to become. This tends to show itself as “the problem of isolation”, which the response, “Does not apply” to me, reflects.
OH, HOW CRUCIAL is it that pastors love their wives. It delights and encourage the church. It models marriage for other couples. It upholds the honor of the office of elder. It blesses the pastor’s children with a haven of love. It displays the mystery of Christ’s love for the church. It prevents our prayers from being hindered. It eases the burden of ministry. It protects the church from devastating scandal. And it satisfies the soul as we find our joy in God by pursuing it in the joy of our beloved. For pastors, loving our wives is essential for our ministry. It is ministry.
But consider this, what has been the professional church worker’s preparation in life-long home life?