Thursday, December 30, 2010

Grace and Love (and some other stuff)

I have to love others who have a history of not loving me.

I have to love others who've rejected me.

One of the first things a professor said to me that hit me really, really hard was this: "You can't be in ministry unless you love people." and then one step further... "If you don't think people can change, just leave right now".

This seems like it should've been a "duh" kind of thing, but for me, it wasn't. When I first felt God calling me to the kind of ministry I am training and studying to be, I just didn't know about the "hugeness" of it all. I honestly hadn't processed everything that ministry meant. I had (to an extent) - in fact, read this post to see what I mean by that.

God made some big changes in my during 2010. A lot of it was through this. Best. Study. Ever. A lot of it was simply the transition time of my life; after several years in one town moving out of state and attending seminary. God did all this work in me to help prepare me for the ministry to which I am called right now.

I have learned....
1. Coercive power won’t lead to change. You can't force others to do what you want them to do. You can offer wisdom and perspective, but manipulation will do nothing but tear down and rip apart the relationship.

2. Though we can't deserve or earn grace, it's imperative you give it to people anyway. A fellow student at seminary asked in class "But what about the person who continually fails and takes advantage of you? When do you stop offering them grace?" The professors responded with "You take advantage of God every single day." I do worry about lines being crossed and about the importance of boundaries in relationships... of course I worry about those things. But there comes a point when you either decide that's it's more important to be right or more important to have the person who needs the grace in your life. Every day we make choices like this. It's hard to think about getting beaten up all the time. But I think it can be equally hard to not forgive. For in that unforgiveness comes a heart laden with burdens we are not meant to bear. I have had that burdened heart. There isn't much worse I've experienced.

3. This pattern of the rejection I've faced from others in the past has significantly influenced how I treat others today. I assume that people who want to know me only do so because they need something from me. I assume an agenda on their part, rather than trust and simply think they just want to be in a relationship with me. There was quite a bit of trauma from my childhood that caused this in me today. But I've also learned that's why I'm comfortable being a leader, because it allows me a certain amount of emotional distance. Whether or not I've hit a healthy level of this is something I'm still unsure of.

4. I've learned to be better at rolling with the punches, especially to more I work with people who can't. I find myself frusted with these, but knowing full well I can be that way too. I'm working on that.

5. I've learned the process of being called is a holy one. It's scary and frustrating and knee-shaking kind of painful. But it's holy and made me full of awe at God's providence and will at the same time.

6. I've learned that even after you're called, the process of being in ministry is also holy. I've had the privilege of sitting in my office and crying with people who are wounded. I've had the joy of praying with and for an elder starting a new business. I've had the pain of hearing a friend cry on the phone because her daughter needs surgery. I've had the ache for my seminary friends as we've lamented and worked the process of ministering to others on opposite sides of the nation. It's all hard and it's all holy.

7. I've learned that I am blessed beyond all measure and wish I realized that every second of every day.

Happy New Year, everyone. Blessings to you all in 2011.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

The Problem With Being an Adaptor

So last year I took this really long leadership test here: for my Leadership and Administration in the Church class. According to this company, there are 16 different types of leaders, and I (story of my life) am the rarest one: the Adaptor.

The Adaptor leader steps into a situation and adaptors to whatever is needed. If the church is failing at Communication, I'll see it and try to fix it. If they need a better Children's ministry program, I'll build it up and get it going again. If I'm sitting in a meeting where everyone is talking, I'll be quiet (even if I have something to say.) If we need a confrontational leader, I'll be the one to do it.

Some of the other leadership types are: Director, Motivator. Stylish innovator, the Harmonizer... and many others.

When I first took the test, my professor told me he'd never met a true adaptor. There are two parts to the test and usually he could tell from the second part where someone who scored as an adaptor (in part one) actually fell based on the results of part two. But, of course, not me. In his 23 years of administrating the test, he'd never met an adaptor until me. So naturally, I was wondering if I really was one based on his comments. Now that I'm several months into a job where I'm basically the head honcho... I absolutely know it's true.

And I hate it.

So far, a lot of the stuff needed at the church is stuff way outside my "sweet spot". My sweet spot is also stuff that's needed. Eventually. But right not there are more pressing needs I must attend to in order to make it through. But what this is doing to me is causing me to burn out faster than I should, because I am spending a lot more time out of my gifting than I am in my gifting. But I'm still good at the other stuff. So good people want me to keep doing it. 

So right now I'm really struggling to figure out where God's grace is in all of this. While I know there are many aspects of ministry I am not equipped to do, I know there are more I am not called to do. But when I find myself in a culture that lacks commitment and wants to paid staff person to do it, I search for ways to help them understand why I shouldn't do it, and that's not just why I don't want to do it. I firmly believe God wants us to flourish in certain areas of ministry and not all areas. But I find myself pushing against a wall put there long ago by a church that doesn't want to or think they should have to do it themselves.

Is this the death of the lay leader? Sometimes it feels like it is. I am pleading for God's gracious hand to figure out some ways for me to find time, in the midst of simply keeping parts of the ministry surviving in this church, to equip and empower others to do it instead.

God, I pray for a transformation of my heart and theirs. PLease give them the passion to commit. Please give me the spine to say no. Please offer wisdom for me to make this work.


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