The author is the Rev. Canon Kevin Martin, Congregational
Development Officer in the Diocese of Texas. I have always found him very
insightful and helpful. This is part of a regular email column for clergy of
Clergy are often baffled by what I would call "the Mitred
Mind." This is the different way that Bishops often see things from the way
other clergy and lay folks do. John or Sally was a decent sort of person, a
real colleague. Then he or she gets elected to be a Bishop and soon this person
changes. The change is slow at first, different colored shirts, different
vestments and standing last in every processional line. After a few years
though, the change is clearly noticeable. The reason people can't figure this
out is because they haven't had the experience of the Mitred Mind. This is the
often-traumatic series of revelations that come to Bishops as they "learn" the
Remember that in America we assume that election to an
office automatically equips a person with all the gifts and abilities to carry
out that office. Hence we don't allow for this learning cure to take place.
This usually takes place with a series of questions that come to a Bishop in
the early years. Since I've worked with a number of Bishops and have had a
close up opportunity to observe the changes, I thought I might let others have
a chance to savor the questions. I am not saying that Bishops don't ever figure
out the answer to these, I am just saying that the office brings moments of
insight that to causes the individual to ponder these as only a Mitred Mind
The Mitred Mind: Questions that transform the new
1. Why is it that Episcopalians love Bishops until we act
2. Why do clergy treat me exactly the same way that they
complain about their lay people treating them?
3. Why are so many clergy either in a state of rust out or
4. Why do clergy continue to repeat behavior long after it
has proved ineffective?
5. Why do congregations try to run off clergy in their third
year for carrying out the job description they gave to them in the first year?
6. Why do some congregations seem to have a history of an
incredible ability to love and respect their clergy despite the varied changes
in personalities that have served them?
7. Why do some congregations seem to have a history of
conflict with their clergy no matter the varied changes in personalities that
have served them?
8. Why do some congregations have an uncanny ability to call
exactly the clergy person they deserve?
9. Why do my large churches exempt themselves from the great
10. Why do my small congregations exempt themselves from the
11. Why do my congregations that have experienced growth and
health always show up at opportunities to learn while the congregations that
are in decline and are unhealthy never show up at events planned to help them?
12. How did my spouse go from being a person who is loved and
valued in a parish community to a person who can't find a church home?
13. Why does the absence of my spouse during a parish visit
create such tension, was she elected too?
14. Why does having a General Convention always sound like a
15. Why is it that no matter how prayerfully and cautiously I
proceed with a decision, 49% of the diocese will disagree, 37% will call it
"hasty" and 17% will call it demonic?
16. Why is it that the clergy who quietly tell me that "they
are with me" never say anything when people complain publicly about me?
17. Why is it that a telephone call asking, "who is eligible
to vote at an annual meeting?" always proceed a parish crisis?
18. Why is it that clergy quote the canons only when they are
absolutely convinced "this" is what they should say?
19. Why is it that "say something about stewardship" is the
only request clergy make about my preaching when I come for visitation?
20. Why do the colleagues who elected me and celebrated it
with such joy now look forward so longingly to my retirement in just my third
year? (This is sometimes phrased as "How did my much disliked predecessor reach
sainthood so quickly?)