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Managing Perceptions in Pastoral Ministry

By Bruce Gordon
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In the middle of the Vatican, there is a hall, called, “The Vatican Hall of Tapestries”. The artist is Raffaello Sanzio who was in charge of the drawings, which he sent to Brussels to be transformed into huge tapestries. It was first opened to the public on December 26, 1519.

I walked slowly down the hall, mesmerized that someone could produce these masterpieces. At one point, I stopped, looked around to see where the guards were, and then leaned over the rope to see the back of the tapestry. It was one color merging into another, with some threads still loose, looking quite disheveled. I actually looked at what I could see of the back and then stepped away to view the masterpiece; what a contrast.

One of my mentors, Dr. Roger Birkman, would often make this statement to me.

“The reality of life is that your perceptions – right or wrong – influence everything you do. When you get a proper perspective of your perceptions, you may be surprised how many other things fall into place”.

I am focusing on managing my perceptions in these challenging days, with Covid‐19, racial and discrimination issues, and the impact of our economy. The following are 5 points, which were recently shared with me and I am processing, as I connect with church leadership.

  1. People have experienced change, and we cannot bring them back to an unchanged church environment as we begin to meet again in person. People have been impacted by Covid‐19, the George Floyd injustice, and the economy.
  2. Leaders need to be those who value relationships and affirm the fact that their staff is also valuing genuine relationships more than ever.
  3. Leaders need to support and encourage any and all conversations that staff and congregants might want to have related to living more closely in alignment with their core values. They will be front and center and no longer are core values going to be kept hidden. This relates to staff as well, for core values will be held true, not only, in the context of their personal or home lives, but also at work and church.
  4. Leaders need to be able to support and accept that staff and congregants are changed enough personally that they are willing to walk away from what they have done in the past, for better purposes and larger reasons.
  5. Leaders need to invest in and listen to their people (resilience, alignment with core values, allowing people to live from their hearts) over the older agenda of listening to and investing in the economy and bottom line. In many ways we now have a new kind of bottom line.

Some of these points relate to perhaps more material things, yet, we need the perspective from the Holy Spirit to be aware of the spiritual things behind them. Lord, help us, who are entrusted with leading your churches to grasp things unseen, to remind our people, this is not our eternal home and only You can satisfy. Give us wisdom beyond ourselves, your perspective, and courage to lead through the grace of Christ our Savior.

© 2020 Bruce Gordon. All Rights Reserved. Used with Permission.

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About the Author

Bruce Gordon head and shoulders photographic portrai
Bruce Gordon

Bruce is the author of his recent devotional book for the 55+ demographic, as they transition in life, Made For More, a book on leadership transition, Strategic Cheriths and currently under contract for a book with Focus on the Family, Colorado, on transitional issues facing the 55+. The Gordons have a passion to speak into the 55+ demographic to resource …

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