Going into ministry we are set up to fail because we are tasked with an impossible variety of tasks - every one of which is CRUCIAL!!!! 100% of ministers out there are inadequate. 100%.
I don't say that just to comfort myself in my own insecurity. Nor to make light of a serious problem or create some kind of universal excuse for why ministers fail, or burnout, or the church is declining or whatever situation needs explaining. Nor do I mean this in some semi-profound theological way to be a message about human brokenness and our need for a gracious savior. Nor, lastly, am I just trying to whine and say that ministry is so much harder than most jobs, when I think it is the opposite.
What I mean is - from a practical perspective we are operating on a failing model for church leadership. We are schizophrenic about what a minister even is, and what they are supposed to do. It isn't that ministers are generalists it's that they are expected to be specialists in 100 different areas. We've no idea what we actually want or need from ministers and as a result we get ministers who only provide useless things.
As an example - here are skills I feel like my congregation, and many others, would like me to have which I do not and which I do not feel ought to be the province of ministers:
- Website design
- Installing/Running Audio-Visual Technology
- Financial Planning/Investment Knowledge
- Computer Expert
- Community Organizer
- Early Childhood Educator
Here are some skills that I am expected to have, which I DO have, which are still not what we probably need from ministers:
- Social Networking
- Administrative Planning
- General Knowledge of History, Politics, Religions
- Life of the party
- Great memory for names, dates, factoids
- Office Management
Doubtless some who read this will think, "Ministry is all of that!" Sure. That's what we've been saying for the last hundred years or so and I think we have gotten lost. Ministry is now everything and therefore it is nothing.
Someone else will say "Different ministries have different needs," which is also easy to agree with, but then why do we ordain everyone to the one office and expect people ordained to that one office to cover all of the different types of ministry? Ministers of Word and Sacrament are expected to be theologians, orators, counselors, teachers, planners, administrators, chaplains, universal friends, and everything else too.
It's impossibly vague. We're all inadequate at dozens of the roles we are professionally obliged to be competent in. Something has to give.