Saturday, January 02, 2010

I'm Glad I'm Not Out Here By Myself

I remember starting out in ministry, when Sundays were painful.  By painful, I mean they were extremely difficult.  They usually included 14 hour work days with a short break in the middle.  I had to wear multiple hats and had to change them on the fly.

I was burned out, over stressed, and struggling.  One thing I didn't recognize at all was how little I was actually worshiping God.  I was doing so much and being pulled in so many different directions that Sundays were anything but a time of celebrating God.  Though we had musical excellence, we weren't a singing church, and that was an extremely hard transition from seminary.

When I first started there, I was there for one week, and then the senior pastor left for his three week vacation.  Then the church secretary left for a two week vacation.  I was left in charge for three weeks with little to no help.  That was awful. I got the impression (and was told outright) that if I wanted things done well, I had to do them.  Later at that church, I was told that I wasn't doing things well enough, so I needed to do everything and I needed to do it all differently.  But that's another story...

So I moved on to another church, and I was the solo pastor.  Something I guess I'd learned by osmosis was that the only time someone other than the pastor preached was when the pastor was on vacation.  Only then would he relinquish "his" pulpit.  I lived that out in New Knoxville, only giving opportunities when I was gone.  That was a mistake, and I am sorry for doing that, because we had a very able retired pastor as well as a just-as-capable (and homegrown) certified lay speaker who could preach whenever I called on them.

One value I've been trying to live out since is something I learned by not seeing it practiced is that it demonstrates to other on my team that I support them if I show up.  Yes, that means listening to the sermons of those who work with me, even though I am the lead pastor.  Quite honestly, I enjoy sitting and listening to Chad or Rudy preach.  They bring the Word of God through the power of the Holy Spirit, and I get to support them and listen to the words God has given them.

But that isn't even the most important part of not being on my own. I think about a crisis in the church and having to come back early from vacation (after thanksgiving) but honestly Rudy was doing so much work behind the scenes that it made my work a lot easier (not that it was easy, but it was better having someone working with me).  And then there is the factor of bouncing ideas off one another and leading in different areas of gifting and handing off other responsibilities (this "handing off" doesn't just go "down" the chain - if there's something that Chad or Rudy can't or shouldn't be doing, I'll pick it up, too).  Like when one of them preaches, if I'm there, I will do other aspects of the service to allow them to "just" preach (I'll do the greeting and announcements and prayer, so they don't have to worry about what comes next, which is incidentally why I've always got the bulletin/program in my hand, because I don't remember what's next even though our services look pretty similar every week).

Above that, though, the most important reason I'm not out here by myself is prayer.  We try to pray together weekly as an office staff, not a "staff meeting" where we are discussing what's going on in the church and office and so forth, but prayer for each other and for the world.  We have established an openness and honesty on staff where we can (and do!) support each other prayerfully and that carries over into the ministry.  When the church staff is praying for one another, it does great things for the church.  I think it's probably the most important thing that can go on behind the scenes in a church.


Big Mama said...

How very right you are: prayer should be first (and last too)it is so different and wonderful when you can pray for and with each other in your work setting--be it church or whatever! Miracles come that way!

Anonymous said...

Your blog keeps getting better and better! Your older articles are not as good as newer ones you have a lot more creativity and originality now keep it up!

Rudy said...

Chocolate covered turd. I am really glad that we are a team too!