Back in November, I attended the New Church Leadership Institute offered by our Annual Conference. It was amazing, inspiring, reality filled, discernment pushing, powerful learning.... It was taught and led by Jim Griffith. He is amazing- and if you ever have the opportunity to attend anything he is doing--GO! Even if you are not interested in church planting- you'll learn a ton! Since 1996 he’s assessed over 1900 church planting candidates, trained over 9,000 planters, and coached over 1500 projects. He works with over thirty organizations.
I was supposed to attend this back in 2008-but I decided that it was more important for me to get away to write my ordination papers- and that worked out pretty well.
So I went this year- and I knew even a bit more about church development and planting because in 2010 I was asked to be on our Conference's Church Development Team. That's been a lot of fun and I've learned a lot.
So there are like 20 pages of exit interview response questions after attending the event. The questions are really good- and they truly help you reflect! The conference was held mid November- so we went into Thanksgiving, Advent, etc. and the exit interview questions were due last week-- I'm finally getting them in!Agh! (I did take a real- real vacation last week and pretty much did not work)But YAY! I have finally gotten it done. In some ways it felt like writing ordination papers again- but I was definitely more ...free flowing in this. No one is really grading me- this is for me... Yikes- won't it be horrible if it turns out differently? :)
No really- its a good thing- the whole thing was about discerning- are you a church planter are you called to do this... I found some answers that I was not sure I would have and some that were hard to accept. But isn't discernment like that-- when you really do it? You learn you can't agree with yourself like you wanted...sometimes the answer is a "yes, but".... (not like you thought it would be).
So the closing questions are:
1) Had I known you better, what question would I have asked that I didn't ask?
2) If money were no object, describe your dream job?
These are great questions! And so this is what I wrote:
If I am completely honest- I sometimes fantasize about what it would be like to be a stay at home mom… I know I would not last long- or I would just be taking on project after project in ministry anyway… sometimes it comes out of a mom-guilt thing- but mostly it just that I take so much delight in my children. I really love being with them! They are amazing people! They are kind and sweet and funny and smart and loving-- and they love learning and they remind me to be in awe of life and God and the world around me!
When I was a US-2 Missionary I loved everything about my work and was there 80-90 hours a week- I got married and pulled back to about 60-70 and my husband became essentially my biggest volunteer (as his youth director job only was 20 hours a week at the time). When I was a youth pastor I tried to convince my husband that we should move out closer to the church we served so that we could do more for the youth—but he reminded me that our reasons for coming to Atlanta were for school and that I would have plenty of time for full time ministry.
I love ministry still and I am still someone who works easily 60 hours a week. I struggle to not work on vacation! But these days- I have a much easier time saying no to work and yes to my girls—sometimes I wonder if that means I am not as passionate as I should be about ministry. But I have discerned that I am no less passionate for ministry, but my passion capacity is also filled by the greatest and most amazing part of my life—my children. My parents were busy a lot and not always available—I will not do that to my girls.
I want to be with them more than anything. I love and want to be doing ministry. It is never easy and I rarely – (read here) never achieve balance- and I do not believe an equilibrium would be a good thing anyway- that is what balance is - equilibrium taken literally-because that would mean that nothing is driving me.
The house is never clean, the office is never organized- there are papers and piles, and a million things that are never completely done. I am pulled in a million directions and every day is a decision of what matters most and how much can I handle and who and where can I get the help I need to make it happen- who can I delegate to- who can I empower- and how can we work together to make it all happen in the joy of Christ?
That is a very long answer. Essentially- I’m doing it. As long as I am delighting in my family, creating ministry, producing fruit-creating and transforming disciples who transform the world- what else is there?
Yes- there is money… and I need money- I would really like to not have student loan debt, a car loan, or any debt, I would love to someday be able to own my own home. I would like to do bills without feeling anxiety…but I feel confidant that step by step it all will work out and we will be provided for no matter what.
God is always providing for us. I like simplicity and most days- when it comes to finances- I miss the simplicity of our life in Detroit when I made $200/ a month and Kevin made just a bit more- our room and board were provided (although we paid half back to the church since we got married in my missionary term –but that is another story) but we had less stuff and less to worry about.
I do worry about my capacity to keep it up—I used to think I had never-ending energy—I’m beginning to learn I don’t. This time is about tough choices and how to find ways to live out all these calls God has given me and realize God will tell and lead me in it all.
I guess that is the question I would have asked—how do you keep it up? How do you not get burnt out from taking on too much? How do you say no when you love it all? I work on these things all the time—I’d like to see how others do it well. I learn from that.
So that's my answer to the Closing Questions.
I do not have if figured out- but I know that God is here, that God has called me, that every day God equips me, and that God is in control.
When there is chaos- God will create- when there is too much going on- God will take away- when I'm ready to listen and hand it over I will see that God will guide me and I need not worry. I am in the right place.
I can't not be who I am called to be- that means a wife and a mom and a pastor- even when it is messy and crazy- its beautiful and I delight in it. I delight in the joy of being married to my very best friend and the love of my life- I delight in my children, I delight in the joys and challenges of ministry!
And it is all from the Lord! I delight in the Lord!
"Delight yourself in the LORD and he will give you the desires of your heart." (Psalm 37:4)