Returning to the Well: Why Pastors Need the Nurture of Supervision, by Amanda Peterson and Teresa Blythe, Southwest Conference Blog, United Church of Christ

Returning to the Well: Why Pastors Need the Nurture of Supervision

by Amanda Petersen and Teresa Blythe

Pastors are some of the bravest people we know. As spiritual directors we have the privilege of walking alongside these brave men and women.

In a time when people are in fear of shrinking numbers and budgets, pastors burn with a desire to sit in the fear and preach the Gospel. With fears high, they are often rewarded by being stoned by the crowd.

Pastors are some of the most isolated people. The system is set up for a work week of 50+ hours, where the people you spend the most time with are not and never can be your confidantes. They work in situations where admitting feelings of failure, doubt and challenge in front of a colleague sometimes doesn’t feel safe.

Pastors often put their own faith time on hold for the sake of someone else’s. There is nothing more satisfying that watch a life change because of the grace of God. Yet, churches frequently want a CEO to run the facilities and programs who is on call 24 hours a day 7 days a week.

Pastors are the most passionate people we know. Despite the odds there is this crazy sense that sharing God’s love and message is not optional no matter the circumstances. They will walk through any mine field for the sake of Christ , God’s people, and this inner call.

As the church is changing so also is the expectation that this is a journey the pastor does alone. It’s not enough to gather with other overworked pastors and complain about the issues. One quickly discovers doing that actually leads to more isolation.

It’s time for a new paradigm in which pastors come together to be honest about the extreme challenges and the amazing blessings of a job where the focus is on where God is alive and at work. It’s time for a safe place for pastors to share struggles and celebrations where the focus is on the God journey.

This safe place is called supervision, a reflection process led by experienced facilitators who help the pastors build community and have a safe, confidential place to process the movement of the Spirit through a variety of work and home-related circumstances.

We call this “Returning to the Well: Reflecting Spiritually on Pastoral Experiences,” because scripturally the well is the place where the brave and passionate return to the Source to refresh and remember why they left the well in the first place.

We are inviting all the clergy in the Southwest Conference to consider allowing us to help them “return to the well.”

As experienced spiritual directors and supervisors, Revs. Amanda Petersen and Teresa Blythe offer monthly group meetings in central Phoenix for this supportive environment. We also offer individual sessions of 30 minutes per month by phone or Skype for anyone attending these Phoenix groups or for anyone living outside the Phoenix area who wants this assistance on an individual basis.

It is important to note that Returning to the Well is not therapy. It’s not the typical support group. It’s a contemplative blend of spiritual direction and guided introspection, led by two UCC specialized ministers who have years of experience caring for pastors. Our first cohort found it enormously helpful and life-giving.

We have openings for 2 to 4 pastors for our next session Monday, February 1, 10:00 am – 11:30 am at Pathways of Grace Spiritual Life Center located at 1500 E. Bethany Home Road Suite 101, Phoenix, AZ 85014. Call 602-315-5723 to register.

Cost is $40 per month if paid monthly or $105 for 3 months (a 3 month commitment is recommended).

We plan to have the Phoenix group meet every first Monday of the month, same time and place.

For individual phone sessions, contact Amanda Petersen at 602-315-5723 to Teresa Blythe 480-886-3828.

In order to be sustained, Clergy need constant Living Water. Let’s all work to make sure the well doesn’t run dry.

Amanda Petersen is a UCC minister specializing in spiritual direction and supervision. She is Founder and Director of Pathways of Grace in Phoenix.

Teresa Blythe is also a UCC minister specializing in spiritual direction and discernment. She is Founder and Director of the Phoenix Center for Spiritual Direction at First UCC Phoenix.