When The Ego Dwarfs The Heart

Sitting this morning, small respite from dog-walking…no, put more accurately Mark-walking. Faith and Caleb prefer the “being in leadership” mode.

Am taking some time to think over the years since ordination. What makes for effective ministerial leadership. What makes for an absence of same.

I’ve never assumed an authoritative position on this. However. My first ministry, for 3 plus years at St. Pauls Church on Chicago’s Northside, was perhaps more shaping of the manner of ministry than seminary itself. Hard to measure but not hard to realize. How MUCH Fred Trost and Herb Davis impacted my ministry.

In my mind…even more in my heart…it was precious. Fred is the consummate pastor and Herb the consummate prophet. And I realized. It is virtually unwelcomed for a pastor not to incarnate both.

Woody Allen is no theologian, yet he was very theological when he offered, “Being there is 90% of any relationship.”

My serving as pastor in churches and judicatory minister in conferences has made it clear: the most effective ministers are those whose egos NEVER dwarf their hearts. They are those who have their windshield larger than their rear-view mirror. And they are those who learn without ceasing.

These days I’m pondering ministry in a very specific way: to help churches strengthen their stewardship…which is to consider ALL of ministry, not just the dollar sign. Actually there is a sign of stewardship…it’s the cross…that reaches up and down and left and right.

In large part the effectiveness of a church’s life resides significantly upon the leadership of the minister. That’s not self-serving. But. It does become real that as goes the minister, so does the congregation.

Not to name names. The purpose of this statement is not indicting. But. It is illustrative. The churches who have been the bitterest have all been led by ministers whose attitude reflects that. Some ministers literally believe there are two kinds of leadership: those who are democratic and those who are effective. They are ministers who will do almost anything to maintain control. They understand leadership as being the one who holds all the keys of the church—not just doors and closets, but programs also. They are also ministers who find the back door of their church is wider than the front door.

Thankfully, though, those ministers define the word paucity. They are few and far apart.

The ministers for whom I have the highest regard are those who share energy and love WITH their people. Not FOR their people. But, WITH. They understand covenant is when the pastor and the people give their fullest for the good of the relationship. Not primarily the good of the self. Although self-improvement happens. It does.

So. It’s Thursday morning. Time for reflection.

And also a personal note. Please continue prayers for Brian. The battle with his brain cancer is ominous and onerous. Yet. We are people of faith. We are people of hope. And. Most of all. We are people who will neither give up nor give in. Because life itself happens. And. No matter what. God never gives up. And. Is ALWAYS with us and for us. This day and the entire future. And even, beyond that.

About Mark H Miller

Diane and I live in Leander, Texas. This past June 17, 2015 I celebrated the 49th anniversary of my ordination. We returned to Texas after three years in Washington, during which I served as interim minister in Bellevue/Eastgate and Mercer Island. Am planning to begin a 5th novel that will have my protagonist, Tricia Gleason, serve a year in licensed ministry in Snoqualmie, Washington. The novel, "The Lemon Drop Didn't Melt," will find Tricia wrestling with ministry challenges. None of which more daunting than someone wanting her breathing to stop. All the published novels are available on Amazon and Amazon Kindle under Mark Henry Miller. A primary goal in our return to Texas is to make sure grandchildren get lots of attention--here and in Chicago and Washington, D.C. Traveling is definitely an activity that will not slow down. With that, of course, fishing will happen. To that the t-shirt is apt, "I fish; therefore I am." In addition to novels, the book of Blogs, "Voice Of My Heart," is also available on Amazon.
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