Eileen Campbell-Reed, Pastoral Imagination

Exhaustion affects us all differently. For me, it is a building effect, usually displaying itself in an inability to fall asleep at night because my mind is racing with all the worst possible scenarios of how the incidents leading to my stress will play out. 

What about you? What about when everyone is experiencing a similar causation of stress? That’s the strange thing about the worst parts of the COVID-19 pandemic. We all shared the burdens of it, with some affected more acutely than others. 

For ministers, already ranked as the 5th most challenging leadership role in America by Forbes, the pandemic experience had its unique burdens. I remember thinking in the first few months of the stay-at-home order that this could lead to the dismissal of our staff due to catastrophic budget shortfalls, how are we going to stay connected as a church, how many funerals am I going to be leading in the coming months, and on and on.  

But pastoring through a global pandemic merely sheds light on the greater reality of ministerial training. Seminary certainly did not prepare me for this. Maybe those amid their divinity school years now will benefit from an overdue shift in equipping ministers. 

“Seeing ministry as a practice that is learned by trial and error, through recognizable stages of growth, and through many rounds of experience allows us to take seriously the reality that learning ministry is a lifelong endeavor and not a three-year process of seminary and internships,” urged Dr. Eileen Campbell-Reed on the CBF Podcast Conversation. 

Eileen is the visiting pastoral theology and care professor at Union Theology Seminary in NYC. She is the founder and host of Three Minute Ministry Mentor and the Co-director of the Learning Pastoral Imagination Project. We sat down to discuss her latest book, Pastoral Imagination.

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Andy Hale is the creator and host of the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship Podcast. Hale is the Associate Executive Coordinator of CBF North Carolina. He’s also served as CBF’s Church Start Specialist, the founding pastor of Mosaic Church of Clayton, and the senior pastor of University Baptist Church of Baton Rouge. Follow on Twitter @haleandy.

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