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Headshot Todd Macdonald with title of blog: Cultivating ResilienceJesus, Spirit-filled, had a great purpose that informed all that he did:
…Preach good news to the poor
Proclaim release to prisoners
And recovery of sight to the blind,
To liberate the oppressed
And to proclaim the years of the lord’s favour
(Luke 4:18-19; Isaiah 61:1-2; 58:2)

Today I want to talk about taking pleasure in our work. Over November and December, my colleague Dale Hildebrand and I have been reading the annual assessments for ministers sent to us from across Toronto Conference. This year we have been noticing that ministers are asked to work in increasingly anxious systems. We are all aware of the remits and proposed changes for our denomination. Some of the churches that ministers are called to serve are also anxious: they may be asking for help with their stewardship or for ways to grow their church. Anxiety can be a great spark to begin thinking about change. But working in an anxious system requires a lot of emotional labour.

For me, resilience when working in an anxious system comes from finding pleasure in my work. I have a purpose that has informed my call to the work of being a conference personnel minister: to help build healthy pastoral relationships; for when a pastoral relationship between a congregation and minister is healthy and vital, they are more open to God’s mission (good news to the poor, proclaim release to the prisoner…) and greater vitality.

I live out this purpose for my work imperfectly, all the time. Sometimes I sit at my desk and wonder if what I am doing is helping at all – those are soul searching times.

There are times when I get a glimpse of how the Holy Spirit has used my work to bring a healthier pastoral relationship. I pay attention to those times because those times fill me with pleasure, great pleasure. I write them down, share the pleasure with others and store up those times for down the road when I need to remember, especially during those soul searching times.

Purpose and pleasure are great gifts of God’s Spirit.

3 responses to “Resiliency in Ministry: Taking Pleasure in our Work

  1. Hey Todd, in case you are interested, a classmate of mine from Princeton Seminary has done research and teaches on resilience. Her name is the Rev Dr Laurie Ferguson. She served as a pastor, now a teacher with Auburn Seminary (New York) and psychotherapist. I heard her speak at a coaching/mentoring course a few years ago. She was really good. She’s Presbyterian. Warm regards, Michelle

  2. Thanks for sharing Todd.
    Important to remember this is almost impossible for the depressed brain to do; and, one of the most taxing tasks for the brain is none stop care giving. So important to remember when caring for what many would call a depressed church.
    The other thing I find helpful to remember is negative experience sticks to our memory like velcro, while positive experience slips off like Teflon. Thus your wisdom to write the good experiences down to look at as reminders.
    The more we can de-stigmatize depression, the more we can live into the call of the Christ with your opening scripture.

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