Monday, June 2, 2008

Wham Bam Thank you Ma'am

No, this isn't a post about that. Geez. I'm a pastor, give a woman some credit!

It's just the most appropriate title I could think of for the way I seemed to enter ministry two years ago. A lot of the ways I approached things was in a rapid-fire, get things done fashion. I wanted to see results, and pronto. I was ready for a worship revolution and a ministry explosion, and quite honestly, I was super frustrated when neither of those things happened.

In all seriousness I went through a serious stage of grief upon entering the ministry. Not only was my congregation hurting and fairly caustic, but my dreams and visions for what ministry would be did not manifest. Seminary had built things up to some sort of utopia and I was a bit peeved that no one bothered to be honest about the realities of endless meetings, mind-numbing politics, and infuriating entitlement.

In the midst of so much all at once, a new job, a loss of my student identity, a major move across the country, no close friends nearby, and a very stressful new position I dredged through a mire of depression, self-doubt, and difficulties. Early on I pledged to stick it out for at least 6 months, hoping that something would get better. And gratefully, it did. Slowly at first, and then at about the six month mark things really started improving. My people were seeing hope for their church and its ministries and they were taking ownership for new programs and revitalizing old ones. It was fabulous. Not problem free, but so much better than the early days.

The passage of time brought many fruits and new things happening at the church. It has been an exciting year of ministry working with these beloved people. This year has brought trials of its own, but God's grace, mercy, and truth have prevailed, and by golly, the adage is right, what doesn't kill ya makes ya stronger!

Reflecting last night really showed me the blessing of time in ministry. While the quick turn around, change and results can be inspiring and motivating, they're fairly superficial and there's no guarantee that they will last. But the things that take time to cultivate and nurture, those things will endure, I can see the deep roots, the strong foundations, and the amazing fruits.

All of those things are excellent fodder for making a change. Not that I couldn't have made the change a few months ago and been fine, but this has just given me so much perspective, so much enthusiasm for forging relationships and taking time at Wesley. Slowing down and letting the process of discernment and collaboration work.

I can't say that I won't be chomping at the bit for a least a little bit of "wham bam thank you ma'am" action--meaning seeing new things pop up without having to wait an eternity, but I think I can wait with greater patience this time around knowing how good the results can be if I just give it time.

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