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  • Writer's picturesonnyholmes

The mentoring thing...screams

Screaming is emphatic regardless of the venue. In social media you can scream by doing ALL CAPS or hitting the bold tab in the font menu. In verbal communication screaming at someone is a way to place italics around or an asterisk beside your main point. When I use the scream in mentoring relationships it's metaphoric rather than actual. The advice isn't really delivered in fear, anger, disappointment, or with a raised voice or distorted face. If I say, "I'm screaming at you" it's just to mark this counsel as something important.

So, some matters are whispered, others related in normal conversation, and some are delivered with the impact of a punch in the gut or a two-by-four up-side the head. For an old retired guy the scream sounded a little more civil.

1. Learn the old song, "I only have eyes for you" and sing it to your wife three

times every single day. I say this partly in jest. But, not entirely. Sexual sin is a

destructive force in the lives of ministers and spiritual leaders. Something

tangible is needed to remind us whose we are. You laugh, but Harriet and I had

two songs over the years that were our love anthems. One was "Only One" by

James Taylor and the other was The Temptations cover of "Night and Day You are

the One". It may sound silly but they were reminders of the commitment we

made at 2:00 p.m., Saturday, March 10, 1973. Church ministry frequently

invades the life of a pastor and his family. They are often short-changed when

time and energy are distributed through busy weeks. These songs were small

expressions that she was always my first human love. And, there really is the

sexual thing. Peter reminded his readers that the devil is like a roaring lion

seeking someone to devour. Ministers are often targets and sexual temptation

is very real. Find a way to keep yourself focused on the Father and his choice

for your life.

2. Grow the fruit of the spirit so the works of the flesh won't rule you.

When the Apostle Paul contrasted the works of the flesh and the fruit of the

spirit (see Galatians 5:19-24) he was comparing our greatest human

weaknesses with what humans are capable of under the Lordship of Christ.

Ministers often act as if ordination or an office in the church gave them an

automatic immunity to these human temptations. Growing the fruit of the

Spirit is the only way to conquer the physical, emotional, and spiritual

temptations that stalk every believer, especially those called by God to ministry


3. Visit your calling frequently. Remember what God said to you then.

In a first meeting I yell for pastors and ministers to verbalize their calling. I want

them to tell me what they experienced and interpreted as God's call to

vocational service. Ministry, even in the best circumstances, is a never-ending

tussle with doubt, discouragement, feelings of inadequacy, unmet

expectations, not to mention the isolation and loneliness that is characteristic

of many in ministry service. Reviewing, reflecting on, and rehearsing God's call

is a way to discover purpose and mission when these down times appear. So,

write it down. Memorize it. Visit it often.

4. Pray for and discover someone to talk to.

As mentioned in #3 above, isolation and loneliness always appear as common

negatives in minister's personal survey data. Even beyond a formal mentoring

relationship just knowing another colleague with whom to discuss the ups and

downs of ministry is a healthy way through what often seem to be impassable

obstacles. In this process you'll no doubt meet someone who needs you as


5. Don't count your critics. Weigh them.

Two things must register here. One, I know there are critics in your church.

You're not the last guy, the legendary guy, the guy in the church across town,

or the guy on television. There's always some measurement going on. Two,

every member of the church is important and to be fair, they are the same in

Christ. But, in reality, you must learn to weigh your critics. Some church people

weigh more than others. There are some who are deeply grounded, spiritually

mature, growing disciples. Others are shallow and immature. Learning to weigh

critics and criticism is a way to sustain your own spirit and remain focused

even when ministry is hard.

Loving other pastors and church spiritual leaders should give each of us the heart to scream some hard stuff to those who share calling to his work. We must constantly pray for wisdom so that we can discern the times when a whisper is the order of the day, when we can relate truth , and when something must be screamed to those with whom we relate.

Jesus whispered some things (see Matthew 26:34). He also related things to his followers when he taught and instructed them. And, he screamed at the two blind men that were healed (see Matthew 9:30). Since we're supposed to follow in his footsteps, we should learn to communicate in the same ways.

Sometimes we have to scream.

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