Ministry in Context

Taking a longer look

I was in my bank, a supermarket branch, sitting down and doing some simple business. Next to me an elderly woman (even older than me) was conducting banking business. She was the very picture of the elderly lady: a tiny thing with carefully coiffed grey hair, precise make-up, neat clothing, wrinkled skin, a pleasant smile on her face. I could see her baking cookies, drinking tea, watching “Downton Abbey” with a cat on her lap, giving generous gifts to grandchildren and maybe even great grandchildren.

“How is the new year for you?” the friendly teller asked her.

“Wonderful,” she answered. “The NHL is playing again. I get all the games on cable TV. I watch one every night and record another to watch the next day. So far the Minnesota Wild are doing great. They’ve finally got a good enforcer. They haven’t had a good fighter in several years but now they’ve got somebody to protect the boys.”

So there. Not quite what I expected. Don’t judge a book by its cover and all that.

I think of the interns serving in congregations now. What was your first impression of your supervisor? The congregation? Has that changed? If it hasn’t done a total 180, I’ll bet it has at least evolved a bit. The same thing holds true for supervisors and first impressions of interns. As we get to know each other better, new understandings emerge. That person you thought cold and distant at first turns out to be warm and loving once you get to know them. (Or, perish the thought, just the opposite!) The congregation which at first looked like a mess turns out to be a smoothly operating machine, insofar as congregations are ever smoothly operating machines.

I think also of some “new readers” of our blog, students who will be going out on internship next year. You’ll be doing some interviews in February. Keep an open heart and an open mind. Your first impression of the supervisor you meet with might not be the whole story. You’ll have an impression and you should. But do not etch that impression in granite. You might still have a few things to learn.

Granny might turn out to be a hockey fan.

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