Sunday after I came home from a great afternoon and evening of confirmation, Middle School, and High School, my wife had the TV on the Oscars. For me I was not interested because I was ready to watch the new episode of The Walking Dead! But since I have it set on the DVR and I could easily watch it and fast forward the commercials later that night, I decided to sit through it. As I was watching, I thought about the big deal the media makes about the Red Carpet prior to all awards shows.
The BIG Question E! always ask at these events is “Who are you wearing?” followed by “Why?”
All of the big stars spend months getting the right dress, jewelry, and outfit to make a splash and to be noticed on the Red Carpet. They want to be known for what they wear and want to be leading story on the best dressed and be on all the upcoming magazine covers.
Are we seen being clothed in God’s righteous to our friends, co-workers, church friends? If not WHY?
This morning a friend posted an article on the University of Tennessee’s Head Football Coach Derek Dooley. As I read it the last two paragraphs made me think about how the fishbowl of college football coaches is very similar to Church staff.
I know that’s no excuse to keep a coach on staff, but at that moment, I realized something that I’d forgotten. I’d forgotten that every word I write, whether Dooley reads it or not, affects someone. It might be his wife, his family, his parents or his players. I realized that Dooley hasn’t broken any regulations. He hasn’t given the university a bad name or spoken unprofessionally about anyone involved in the program. He’s committed no crime.
Fans would do well to remember the positives as well as the negatives and post facts, not just opinions. Tennessee fans might want to reconsider their hate for a man who has pulled their team through adversity, who came (along with his family) when Lane Kiffin left and who won’t leave unless he’s pushed out.
Too often in ministry I have seen staff members judged by their last failed program, idea, Bible Study, event, and even sermon series. There are “seasons” in church staff lives that they go through tough times, yet do not share it with laity. There are “seasons” of down numbers and down programs. Instead of providing help for the staff, laity talk behind their back, leave the church, do not offer to step up and help. They treat them just like alumni and fans do to coaches. They see them as expendable and look for the next greatest thing instead of supporting them and joining them along side in ministry. They forget they have families they often hear the gossip and negativity. They forget about the small things they could do instead of complaining on Facebook, at Circles, at public events. They want more, but do not help. I’ve seen many great church staff leave ministry because of this. They get criticized, work their tail off, are not fed because of teaching multiple things, they aren’t asked how they are doing spiritually by laity, and are thrown out beaten up from working in the church. I’ve seen others that go from church to church, moving their families over and over and every church they go to ends in the same hot seat due to churches not taking care of their staff.
The latest losing streak for a coach that is labeled on the hot seat is no different than a ministry staff member who has a tough time finding volunteers to help, or gives a bad sermon series. They are human and sometimes need time to build their team and make changes. Laity see the present instead of the groundwork that has been laid for the future of the programs.
In ministry we often feel pressure to make it to the final step of change. We see where we want our students to be or where we might want our program to be. Instead of making sure all the steps take place, we take short cuts, ignore things in order to make it happen sooner. I believe a lot of comes from the pressure of our digital society of getting everything instantly.
As I write this I am downloading the new IOS 6 for my iPhone. Because so many people are trying to download it as well, it is taking sometime to download it. I want to use it now! But there is no short cut to download it faster, I must be patient and let the process happen. Too often in my ministry over the past 14 years, I want students to change how they act and forget that the process takes time for them to download their new habits into their lives. I also have had the same problem when it comes to change in my programming, small groups, sunday school, and other areas in ministry. I want immediate change. I then get frustrated and often just quit instead of letting them develop.
This year we have made a big change in our ministry, by separating high school and middle school. And for the first time in a while in ministry, I’m letting go and letting things work out when it comes to programming. Before I would have already made changes to both groups. But right now, I’m riding it out for a while to see what happens. And it feels so much less stress by doing this.
Last week, we finally closed on the sale of our house in Charlotte, NC. After being on the market for two and a half years we finally sold it! For the past 22 months we have been living in the church parsonage here in Columbia, SC. We have been beyond blessed with having the opportunity to live there as we have been trying to sell our house. It has been very frustrating at times having a house that we thought that would never sell. We dropped the price numerous times, we had two sets of bills every month, we cleared out our savings account, and we were very close to trying to short-sale just to get it off of us. It has also been tough at times living across the street in the parsonage. Living in the shadow of the church and work was tough at times too. Many times it has been hard to get away from work with it being just across the street. Church members know when we come and go. We have people coming to the house all the time asking for things. It was a place to live in, but never felt like it was home.
So now the time has come to move out and move into a house here. We are beyond excited about our new house, except for the packing and moving part again! Right now we have boxes and furniture everywhere, but in two weeks we will be living in our new home! So that is why it has been a while since I have blogged. Just been busy closing, packing, and work!