Ministry is a journey, but one not meant to be walked alone. As we start blogging again, the members of the Masterin’ the Pastorin’ blog decided to solicit the wisdom of other Presbyterian pastors who’ve walked the journey of ministry. We asked different folks the same set of questions and over the course of the next couple of weeks we’ll share her/his answers. Today you can read the wisdom of Rev. Dr. Brian Blount, President of Union Presbyterian Seminary in Richmond, VA who graciously offered to answer our questions.
- What was a memorable moment in your first year of ministry? Realizing that just spending time with people, especially when someone just dropped over to my office to chat, wasn’t distracting me from my work, but that this was my work!
- What was some helpful advice you were once given? The advice I think we give each other now. Make sure to provide time for yourself. Schedule it as if you were scheduling an obligation for work, so you know you’ll keep it.
- How did you (or didn’t you) feel seminary prepared you for ministry? I was well prepared academically to do biblical studies and theology and to use church history and practical theology. But I was not prepared for the practical aspects of ministry like doing administration or performing weddings or funerals or celebrating the Eucharist. Those were things I fortunately was able to learn on my own quickly and through conversations with colleagues who had been in the ministry longer, and from remembering how such things were done in my growing up in my home church. As a solo pastor, I didn’t have the ability to learn from a senior pastor.
- When was the first time you questioned going into the ministry?
Probably the first time a significant number of people questioned my decision on something. I don’t think I really remember that happening in a significant way until I was just about ready to leave my church to go into a Ph.D. program. I loved my ministry. It probably still remains the most satisfying part of my journey overall.
- What would you recommend for the continuing education of young pastors? Finding a way to develop strength in areas like administration, fundraising/stewardship, conflict management, strategic planning, and evangelism.
- What books are you currently reading? I have just finished reading commentaries on the Book of Revelation and other books related to it to prepare for teaching a course on it.
- What would you like to say to your 30-year-old self? Enjoy the journey. Don’t worry so much about getting there that you keep missing the joy of being on the journey. The journey is actually really memorable.
- Any advice for pastors feeling depleted? Find friends with whom you can express your feelings and not worry that those confidences will be broken. I think keeping a journal as a way of talking through issues with God helps, too.
- Any tricks or tips for congregational ministry? Having been out of congregational ministry now since 1988, I think there are probably better persons to answer this question, those who have been serving through these past years.
- What do you love about the church? The people. Their love, their faithfulness, their desire to find in their relationship with God their better selves and their ability to help shape a better world.
- What trends are you watching in the church? Its decrease in size, its struggle to find a way to share the story of Jesus Christ and what that story can mean for a struggling world.