Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Zucchini Tubs and Other Things...

Have you ever said or done something, and wondered why folks were laughing at you? Yeah, me either. I was just checking. Ok, confession time...yes I have...alot recently.

We've been painting our new to us parsonage for the last couple weeks and the other night I noticed my beautiful bride beginning to show signs of exhaustion. Our new to us parsonage is going to spoil us after we make it our own because of one thing...a huge corner jacuzzi tub in the master suite. We've never had one before and at first, I thought, "What a waste of space." I no longer think that.

After a long day's painting, I looked at Steph and she looked plumb beat, so being the wonderful and caring husband that I am, I said to her in my most compassionate and loving voice, "Hey hon, why don't you rinse out your paint brush, let me pour you a glass of sangria, and fill up the zucchini tub for you. You look like you need a break."

She started laughing. I started getting mad.
"What? Why are you laughing at me? I'm just trying to help."
"Did you hear what you just said?"

I said, "Yeah, I said, 'Why don't you rinse out your paint brush, let me pour you a glass of sangria, and fill up the zucchini tub for you." She started laughing again. Then what I had said clicked.

Two days later we slipped off to St. Louis for a couple days. We left after church on Sunday and got back late last night. It's the first vacation time we've taken as a couple in over four years, and evidently I needed a break more than I thought I did.

As we sat in the Drury Inn in Arnold, Missouri eating breakfast, I looked around and noticed that the place was packed with kids. I love kids, don't get me wrong, but it was loud. They were running around everywhere, bumping into folks, and spilling drinks, and I looked at Steph and said, "And why are all of these kids here? Shouldn't they be in school?" She started laughing. I started getting mad.

"Honey, you need a vacation. It's July. School is out for the summer." (Facepalm)

Before we left for vacation (even if it was only 2 1/2 days) I had ordered a DVD. It was from a Willow Creek leadership institute and the presenter was Wayne Codeiro, pastor of New Hope Fellowship in Oahu. The title of his presentation was "Dead Leader Running," and it humbles me every time I watch it.

For the first time in my career, I actually saw the signs of what Wayne was talking about in myself..."Shall I fill up the zucchini tub for you?"

I've talked about this before, but I have to admit, this time it kind of scared me a little. I'm one month into a new appointment and having a ball. The schedule is crazy busy, the stress level is a little higher, the expectations are greater, but I'm absolutely loving it. Zucchini tub was an eye opener for me, though. I need to pay attention to my health and my family's well being if I'm going to be able to be a shepherd for the kingdom.

Wayne said that we, as pastors, never forget we are pastors but we do forget that we are human. I had forgotten that. He went on to talk about how to prevent the breakdowns that sometimes come with the profession: find things that fill your tank and do them; find the fulcrum in your life so that balance can be maintained; lead out of rest; find a lightening rod to help keep you grounded; and discipline your daily devotions. I used to do all of those with a fair amount of regularity. Lately, not so much.

I confess that my devotion time has slipped. I must and will get that back on track. I confess that my fulcrum, my heart, has not moved to maintain the balance I need between ministry and family. I confess that I have not met with my mentor in a month or more, it's time. I confess that I have not led out of a spirit of rest. And, I confess that I have done very little to fill my tank recently.

Maybe it's feeling guilt at taking the time needed to do those things, or feeling that other things are more important and pressing at the moment, I don't know. But I do know that most kids do not go to school in July, even in Missouri, and that you can not relax in a zucchini tub. At least I know that now.

Dead leader running...I don't want that to be me.


Thursday, July 14, 2011

Would Jesus Post Office Hours?...

I have an office. A real, honest to goodness office. I have a huge desk and it looks great. The top is a little cluttered but I know where everything is. I have a whole wall full of cabinets behind me with a great little countertop, and my set of Interpreter's Bibles takes up two whole shelves. My guitars are on stands in the corner, well, one is on a stand, the other is waiting for me to remember to bring its stand. My coffee maker is perking as we speak. The church has a great computer for me to use, sitting right here on my great desk...and the chair...oh my goodness. I'm getting one of these for the living room in the parsonage. I've got a great gig going here.

That's right, you know you're jealous of my office...but...

I don't remember where I heard it, but someone, somewhere, at some point, told me that Jesus wouldn't have had an office.

I know! Can you believe that? Why would anyone not want an office like the one I have? I mean, Jesus could have set office hours and the twelve could have had their own cubicles just outside his big corner office, and you know it would have been a corner office. I mean, just picture the sign out front..."J. Christ and Co." That's marketable. Folks could have made appointments and come by to see him, or visit, or complain, or cry...whatever they needed. Just think of all he could have gotten done. The Sermon on the Mount? Could have been written on a Dell. Kona coffee must pale in comparison to the coffee that would have been in Jesus' office...and I love me some Kona coffee.

Still, the thought that Jesus would not have had an office kind of bugs me. I love mine, honest. I can come in here on the days I post office hours, and my folks know they can reach me. We have a group that will be by in a bit, just like they do every Thursday, to pray over every name that was lifted up in the last few days. I can come in here on the days I'm not supposed to be here, leave the doors locked, and write or pray or just listen. I stream K-Love on my Dell desktop while I'm working on the teaching for the week on my laptop. (Yeah, two computers in my office.)

But...can I be an effective pastor from behind a desk? To some degree, sure. I can write great messages here. I can take care of the CEO part of the job and never leave my chair. I can kick back and listen as folks come in to talk, but ultimately, if I'm going to lead the people of God, I will have to spend some time outside with the people of God. office hours...Wednesday and Thursday from 8:30 to 11:30. I'll be in one more day, at least, so that I can really focus on writing, and I'll be here for the meetings I need to be here for. But I think that after I get settled in, two mornings each week blocked out to sit behind a desk are enough.

My prayer is that I always remember that just because I have finally arrived at the point in my career where I have a great office, and it is a great office, I never, never use it to hide from my calling to go out and make disciples of all that I meet.