I have been in the ministry for seven years. I began my internship in Brixton before pastoring at churches in Battersea, Wallington and South London. Eventually, I moved to Welwyn Garden City and Stevenage churches before working for the Conference.
Currently, I am involved in ADRA-UK’s I AM Urban initiative that provides humanitarian services for people living in urban areas. It is a new and inspiring project, and we have supported 72 food distribution hubs since the outset of the Covid-19 pandemic.
I always knew going into ministry meant having to deal with intense situations such as trying to help someone who is feeling suicidal or couples going through separation or divorce. I had never confronted these issues head-on before, which made me anxious. Thankfully, I had excellent mentors like Pastor Leslie Ackie, the Family Life Director for the British Union. He advised me to get counselling skills training, which is the best thing I have ever done.
I learned it is unrealistic to think you can handle every situation. You will end up disappointing yourself and the members you serve, and in the worst-case scenario, you can hurt people by providing bad advice. You have to recognise your limits and know when to refer people to professionals to resolve their problems.
I remember my lecturers at Newbold saying, “We can’t teach you everything, but we can give you the skills and the tools to be able to handle the unknown in the best possible way.” The advice has helped me in my ministry.
Max Mckenzie-Cook, Director of Community, Diversity and Prison Ministries at the South England Conference of the Seventh-day Adventist Church