Angela Shier-Jones has a great post on the difference between supervision and pastoral care. Part of what she says scares me because I had no idea that the church was moving in this direction – perhaps I have missed something in the connectional mailers. Anyway, she writes:
As a line manager and the person designated to conduct the annual supervision, the Superintendent ceases to be a colleague, a fellow minister, the ‘first among equals’ described in the ‘What is a superintendent’ report. Instead the Superintendent becomes the boss, the record keeper of a minister’s attempts to measure up to some unwritten ‘measurable outcomes’ of ministry – and the (potentially unqualified) judge of their performance. So who will pastor to the pastors – because supervision is NOT pastoral care. There is nothing ‘pastoral’ in supervision, nothing ‘gracious’ or deliberately of you God – supervision is a performance indicator – nothing more and nothing less. And I doubt that it will be too long before annual supervision reports are held in the new personnel files for ministers.
In none of this does she think that pastors are perfect people and acknowledges the growing number of discipline problems, but at the same time wonders why we don’t move to get at the root cause of it – likely handled better than making a superintendent a supervisor.
Her article made me reflect on my unit of Clinical Pastoral Education (CPE) that I took part in 7 years ago. We had a chaplain named as supervisor, but she certainly didn’t supervise as Shier-Jones defines it. My chaplain supervisor lead as Shier-Jones defines pastoral care. My chaplain supervisor encouraged and challenged me, all in honesty with what she saw in me. There were no results to measure against! As a result, I grew in the process, though it wasn’t easy. That there are no measurable targets does not mean that it was fluffy and easy. On the contrary, there were times when it was excruciatingly difficult. But the supervisor, the other intern chaplains, and I worked hard at it.