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Varieties of Gifts

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Table of Contents

Introduction 1.Witness and Wisdom of Pastoral Narrative 2."That was Somebody Else": Multiplicity and Ministry 3."Something was Missing": Multiplicity and Pastoral Identity 4.Adaptive Change, Conflict and Transformation: Multiplicity and Ministerial Practice 5.The Perils and Possibilities of Multiplicity: the Care and Feeding of Multiple-mindedness 6.Multiplicity and the Renewal of Congregational Ministry Notes Annotated Bibliography of Further Reading

About the Author

Cynthia G. Lindner is director of ministry studies and clinical faculty for preaching and pastoral care at the University of Chicago Divinity School. Rev. Lindner is also a pastoral psychotherapist at the Center for Religion and Psychotherapy, where she works with clergy groups, individuals, and couples. She has served as a parish pastor and hospice chaplain.


[W]e need Cynthia Lindner's study of 21st-century pastors, which demonstrates the value of pastors drawing from multiple internal energy sources in order to exercise their gifts in multiple forms. Lindner...examines the stories of pastors serving mainline congregations, many of which are now small but not long ago were bursting at the seams. Lindner draws on the tradition of autobiography as theological narrative from Augustine to Dorothy Day, the psychological category of multiplicity with roots in Eakin's How Our Lives Become Stories, and the work of several other contemporary psychologists. But she doesn't dwell on theory and moves quickly to the best part of the book, the stories themselves. Her storytellers- female and male, gay and straight, old and young, African American and Caucasian-talk straightforwardly about the challenges of contemporary ministry and the need for multiple strategies...These thousand eyes represent the multiplicity that is necessary to the pastoral life. They also remind us that in ministry we are never alone...Varieties of Gifts testifies that God is not done with the church. The Christian Century If you are a pastor, or a pastor in training, or are a voyeur and interested in how pastors think, feel, and act from Monday through Saturday then Varieties of Gifts: Multiplicity and the Well-Lived Pastoral Life is for you. Varieties of Gifts will certainly help you ponder the various identities and roles that pastors exhibit in their life. I know I did. Most of the books that I review are quick reads, but not this one. I kept stopping over and over again pondering the numerous vignettes and stories which Dr. Lindner includes. These stories were not just filler to keep the narrative moving forward, but are essential components for the book and which made me think of my own multiple identities that I carry around with me... If you want to give one book to your parish priest or pastor, I encourage you to get a copy of Varieties of Gifts for them, they'll love it. Walking with God Cynthia Lindner offers hope to those called to or already in the demanding pastoral role. Pastoral multiple-mindedness is a way through the perils of being all things to all people, or, equally ruinous, trying to be only one thing all the time. Here is a way to be authentically who we are, doubts and gifts hand-in-hand. -- Gil Rendle, senior vice president, Texas Methodist Foundation; author of Doing the Math of Mission: Fruit, Faithfulness, and Metrics When a life-or a program, organization, community-really works, we become curious. We ask: "What's the secret sauce?" Lindner's book-grounded in careful research and steeped in rich experience-gives us a great big clue about the secret sauce that transforms the complexity of human life into the essence of faithful and effective ministry. This book is a must-read for understanding and re-thinking the lives of ministers-past, present, and future. -- Sharon Daloz Parks, author of Leadership Can Be Taught: A Bold Approach for a Complex World What does the 'well-lived pastoral life' look like, and how might we understand it differently today? Through the lens of 'multiplicity,' Cynthia Lindner turns to the source: pastors themselves, who open up their lives and vocations in revelatory interviews and give us a rare look into the interior spaces and diverse personal capacities that foster creative, faithful ministry. Both seasoned and starting out, these ministers thrive as change agents, border crossers, contemplatives, dreamers, lovers, organizers, scholars, midwives, and gardeners. When their gifts match their context and community, something divine happens. Lindner's finely attuned qualitative approach is an engaging addition to our understanding of ministers and congregations thriving in a time of turmoil. -- Mark Miller-McLemore, associate professor of the practice of ministry, Vanderbilt Divinity School A much-needed text, bringing fresh insight to the actual lives of pastors. Lindner explores the mystery of the multiple selves pastors bring into ministerial practice. She explodes the myth that shallow coherency is essential to ethical work. Instead she paints vivid stories of effective loving pastors who juggle multiple selves with integrity. She has listened deeply to her students and to diverse ministerial narratives. She unlocks new understandings of how we prepare for ministry and engage creatively in this most relational of professions. It is obvious ministers relate to others; Lindner brings to light the less obvious but equally significant reality that ministers relate various interior parts of themselves as they engage with real life situations. Her deeply insightful telling of the contemporary ministerial scene combines realistic description with faith-filled hope. That hope for the future is frequently grounded in historical realities: from Paul's New Testament narratives to various theological storytellers, Lindner weaves a new story into the age-old tapestry of Christian ministry. -- Emily Click, Assistant Dean for Ministry Studies, Director of Field Education, Harvard Divinity School

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