Saturday, June 19, 2010

Starting Over

I was driving through town the other day, running a few errands. That always take a bit longer when you are getting to know a new city. And this city is kinds of a strange one... it's very spread out with lots of small locally owned places. So a quick glance at signs doesn't necessarily tell me much.

Once again, I am finding myself starting over. Didn't I JUST do this? Having to find new things of nearly everything, like a hairdresser, a mechanic, a bank, a mary kay lady. Blech.(At least I don't have to go church shopping. *Ba-dum-bum*)

"...and he also gave them provisions for their journey. - Gen. 45:21"

I never tire of reminding myself that 'God's work done God's way will never lack God's supply'. The mode I feel I am in right now, though, is "survival". I often feel as though I am moving from deadline to deadline, program to program, event to event, and am unable to work on the theory of building a good support system, of training and equipping those in education, of writing policies and putting some structure in place.

It's as if I am not only starting over in my life, but beginning something completely new in this ministry. I came here not wanting to do that, because I wanted to honor what the previous woman did here, and honor the church's culture, and spend time figuring all that out. But as it seems more clear to me that what was done before didn't work, I am now faced with deciding what to change, how to change it, and when to make that happen. I have a committee of wonderful people looking to me to make those decisions when it feels kind of wrong for me to be the one who does. Not because the Lord hasn't gifted or equipped me. I believe he has. But because I don't know this place the way they do.

My challenge is helping them understand that even though they hired me and I have the expertise and experience they wanted, I cannot be the white knight. I will not make decisions for this church on my own. I don't want to be that leader... the leader that starts over just to start over. The leader that starts over because she thinks she knows what is best.

I don't know what is best for this place. And that may freak some people out. I just need to figure out how to be a leader in the process of starting over, without completely starting over. I need to figure out how to lead adaptively, in a way that not only works, but helps them understand why.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

A Sweet Moment

This afternoon I had the privilege of being part of a sweet and wonderful pastoral moment.

My new pastor and I were at lunch and were able to stop by a congregation member's new business on the way back to out church. This new business officially opens on Monday, and my pastor wanted to see how things were coming along. Ken (the owner) graciously gave us a tour of his new office (he's an eye doctor). Several of his family members were there setting up displays for eyeglasses and things were still in progress.

After talking with Ken about this new endeavor he's undertaking, my pastor asked him if we could prayer together over the building, the business, his family and this new adventure. The three of us stood in the front of the waiting room and prayed together for the Spirit to work and for God's blessing over it all.

These are the kind of pastoral moments I often miss. I'm not naturally wired to think this way, really, and wouldn't have thought to pray with Ken. I am thankful to have a senior pastor who models this and allows me to be part of it. I am in place where my presence and my gifts are not only acknowledged but appreciated and allowed to flourish. It is also a place where coming alongside people is an everyday occurrence; where mentoring and learning are greatly valued. I never thought I would find a place that fit me. And maybe they, after a long time of looking, never thought they would find someone to fit them. But God made that happen.

I am blessed beyond all that I deserve.

Posted via email from stephanienels's posterous

Saturday, June 05, 2010

An Unexamined Life

Now that I am no longer a student, I find myself in this odd time of transition. Where I can't find anything I need (because it's all packed in boxes or suitcases), where I'm not really sure what to do with my time because there isn't something else really pressing due next week, and where I am seeing people new and differently.

I now live in the desert. It hasn't quite hit me yet, and probably won't until I settle into my new home, which won't be until August. I, once again, have made a major life change just as I did almost two years ago. I left all that is familiar to follow a call I did not completely understand but one I was sure of, and everything changed for me. Here I am in, in the same situation, but far less scared than I was back then. When I think back as to why, it all comes down to one simple thing: assurance.

The Lord always provided for me when I lived in St. Louis. I was going to school (an expensive one) full-time. I had 3 part-time jobs, a lot of amazing friendships, and a lot of craziness in my life. But every difficult moment brought deep joy and a great thirst for a deeper knowledge of my Lord. They say pleasure is opposed to pain, but joy is often born out of trial. What I went through these last two years was truly a trial. If I had to do it all over again I would and I would never want to trade the experience I had at that challenging institution for anything, because the Lord taught me things. People taught me things. I would never want to not have this experience.

Socrates said "the unexamined life is not worth living"... and I did a lot of examining in seminary. I now know this is an area I truly fell short in previously. The next phase of my life will be about continuing to deprogram myself so I continue the examining. Donald Miller said in his newest book, A Million Miles in a Thousand Years, "maybe we were designed to live through something rather than to attain something." I now understand, more than ever, that living through something rightly is not just surviving, but experiencing as it happens, and looking back to ask what it all means. I am a character in God's story, and it's up to me to understand the plot he is writing with me. I may not ever fully understand what just happened to me in the last two years, but I am most certainly going to try.