10 reasons interim pastors should keep a private journal

Journal and pen

Her Journal: Tonight, my husband was acting weird. We had made plans to meet at a nice restaurant for dinner. Conversation wasn’t flowing, so I suggested that we go somewhere quiet so we could talk. He agreed, but he didn’t say much. I asked him what was wrong. He said, “Nothing.” I asked him if it was my fault that he was upset. He said he wasn’t upset, that it had nothing to do with me, and not to worry about it. On the way home, I told him that I loved him. He smiled slightly, and kept driving. When we got home, he just sat there quietly, and watched TV. He continued to seem distant and absent. Finally, with silence all around us, I decided to go to bed. About 15 minutes later, he came to bed. But I still felt that he was distracted, and his thoughts were somewhere else. He fell asleep. I don’t know what to do.
 
His Journal: Rough day. Boat wouldn’t start, can’t figure out why.
 

[dc]J[/dc]ournaling an indispensable ministry tool, particularly for interim pastors. Journaling slows you down, focuses your attention and affords the opportunity to reflect on the day’s events. It calls on you to identify and name your feelings. It grants you a bird’s eye view of yourself and your activity. And, it creates a record you can consult when you traverse ground you’ve seen before.

Ideas can come from anywhere at any time. The problem with making mental notes is that the ink fades very quickly.

Rolf Smith, “Idea Summit” by Ann Muoio, Fast Company January/February 2000.

Why should interim pastors keep a journal?

Interim pastors often find themselves in unfamiliar territory, literally. Some interim ministries call us to parts of the country where the food, the customs and the connections are foreign. In some cases we’re a Lone Ranger mingling with folks who may or may not be on our side. If you’re in an interim position without a mentor or a coach that journal will be invaluable.

Here are ten benefits you’ll enjoy by keeping a regular (dare I say daily?) journal:

  1. It helps you understand the day’s events
  2. It gives you perspective so you’ll let the small stuff go
  3. It lets you look at where your ego is getting in the way of ministry
  4. It reinforces your skills as an intentional interim pastor
  5. It suggests where you need to work on acquiring additional skills
  6. It allows you to “self coach”
  7. It reminds you how God met you similar circumstances before
  8. It helps you identify and focus on the big ticket items
  9. It keeps you from reinventing the wheel
  10. It is a “mind dump” so you can leave work at the office

Additional Resources

There are an embarrassment of riches about journaling on the Internet. Here are a few that I’ve found helpful.

What is your counsel?

How would you counsel a colleague getting into intentional interim ministry in the matter of journaling?

About Bud Brown

Bud Brown is the president of Transition Ministries Group. He has served churches in a variety of settings, from small rural congregations to mid-sized urban churches to one of the fastest growing megachurches in the U.S. Bud is a graduate of Dallas Seminary (Th. M., 1986) and Western Seminary (D. Min., 1995). He and his wife, Lea, live in Tucson, Arizona where Bud spends most of his days lounging by the pool in their back yard. You can catch him via email or check out his personal resume.

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