Thursday, December 02, 2010

The Ten Best Ministers I Know

This appeared recently in a source I regularly read and gives insight into the arts of ministry, as they were seen by the author at the time it was written, many decades ago and before many of the awarenesses we now have, with women, sexual minorities and racial minorities more strongly among us. It's by Clarke Dewey Wells, one of our UU "Oaks of Righteousness". (I'm hoping someone writes an updated version soon.)

The Best Ministers I Know
by Clarke Dewey Wells

I ask myself what men in our denomination do I admire most? I wrote down ten names. Then I ask what these ten have in common, why I like them. They range in age from their 30s to late 60s. I've known them from 6 years to 20 years. (It takes time for cream to rise.) Here is what I discover.

1. All of them have enormous egos, but most know it and pray about it and every day try again to shape up and fly right.

2. All are married, fathers and masculine; big, fine voices, strong and athletic of body, but free to express their feminine component and maternal impulses.

3. All are great talkers but, with the exception of 2, can greatly enjoy hearing other great talkers. All have wide-ranging enthusiasms, intellectual depth, and some scholarly interests and pursuits.

4. All are sinners. I mean, to my surprise, that all of them have been wrong on some important denominational issues over the years. None is afraid to be in the wrong with two or three. Most are slightly narcissistic and compulsively energetic.

5. All are saints in their love of life and dedicated to making it more humane. 7 of them even know how to go about doing it.

6. Seven of ten will answer your letters; 4 of them will give indication in their reply of having read yours.

7. All are outstanding preachers, that is they speak with conviction, literacy, power.

8. All have balanced ministries; personal-social, science-art, tradition-novelty, pastor-prophet.

9. None is guilty of the following: sentimentality--though each pours on the
sentiment; manipulation, though none is ashamed to use powers of
persuasion; sanctimoniousness, though each is deeply religious; betrayal of
confidence, though each knows more than any gossip in town; bitterness,
though each is capable of wrath; and colored-socks, though each acknowledges
the right of others to wear them.

10. All are sharply defined, idiosyncratic, individual, unique. They have
presence. They stand out. While co-operative, gregarious, social to a fault,
they don't blend in. As a matter of fact, if you put one in a blender he'd
break the blades, crack the glass and bounce around like a steel fork.

I hope you are always fortunate enough to have ministers like them, and help
to keep them that way.


Dan Harper said...

Thanks for this. It's partly endearing, and partly embarrassing. My UU minister when I was in my teens was probably one of these ten, and he was a pretty good minister. But we certainly do have a different understanding of ministry today -- these days, I would not want a minister who matched all these ten characteristics.

ms. kitty said...

Me either, Dan. Thanks for your thoughts.