Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Odd things that are ministry normal...

Let's face it; sometimes living in the ministry exposes you to situations that would be considered odd anywhere else, and yet, they're just a normal part of this life. I thought it would be fun to call out our odd normalities...
This week's odd normal happened at Walmart. I was doing my weekly shopping for groceries, household supplies and miscellaneous junk when my husband called asking if I would like to join him for a quick lunch. Between finishing up a massive building project, beginning a renovation of the former space, all the celebratory holidays/moments in May and a late Easter, moments together are a rare commodity, so I told him I would finish up quickly and meet him. That's when it happened...I spotted a sweet older lady in the church...not one of the frustrating of the dear saints of the church, supportive, precious, deserving of a full conversation. But, sigh, I just wanted to shop quickly and make it to lunch. After successfully bobbing and weaving around her, the unthinkable happened...another woman I didn't know from Adam looks up, a huge smile of recognition spreading across her face...

"Hey there, I LOVED what you had to say in the Mother's Day sermon yesterday! I love New Hope. We moved here from Georgia six months ago. I've really felt that...blah, blah, blah..."

Insert my smiling face hiding the internal dialogue that goes something like this... "Crud, who is she? Should I know her? Did she come to Newcomer's night, cause I got nothing... I'm trying to get shopping done. Shoot, she's lonely and is so happy to talk...guilt, guilt, guilt. But I really need to wrap this up. How do I let her know she's important and valued, but I need to keep moving?"

I seriously doubt this happens in most people's lives. At least not getting trapped by complete strangers who know every detail of your many kids you have, their names, ages, interests, etc... I love this life, but you gotta admit, sometimes it's a weird one.

Next aisle over, guess who I bump into? I resigned myself to another long conversation when she smiles, warmly greets me then says, "I'll see you later, dear. I really need to finish my shopping." Have I mentioned how much I love this precious saint of our church?

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

When positivity is a bad thing

I would venture that all of us have experienced the fallout of dealing with negativity...someone in your church just doesn't like you and doesn't feel the need to hide that fact. Maybe they don't like what you're doing; maybe you remind them of someone they couldn't trust...someone who hurt them deeply at some point in their life. Sometimes, I really think it can be as simple as a personality mismatch. Whatever the reason, we probably all have stories of someone who seemed to step on every nerve we have. However, sometimes I think the overly positive people in our churches can be an even greater hurdle for us.

Whoa; hold up a bit. Hear me out before you scroll on to the next thing.

 I'm not talking about those God sent battle ready mature Christians we would make parishioner of the week every week if we could. This is a whole different situation... This is that woman who catches you at the door and says, "pastor, we came from x church or x community. They were so cold and just didn't care about people at all. We LOVE it here! The people are so friendly and your sermons are the best I've ever heard in my whole life. The worship should be on the radio it's so good! Where we came from people didn't even notice when we were gone/had surgery/moved. The worship just wasn't real; they were all fake and the preaching didn't feed me..." Cue the music for when you're x church they're talking about at their new church.

Or the new staff member who gushes about how it's the best job they've ever, ever had and sometimes even gives expensive thank you gifts in the first six months they're on staff. These things are extremely flattering to hear and stroke the ego well, but I've learned to groan inwardly when someone gets overly expressive about how amazing the church/their job/I am within the first weeks/months of joining us. I can't remember even one positive staff experience that started this way.

Why is this? I haven't a clue...maybe those who wait to settle in before thoroughly attaching base their attachments less on emotion and more on reality? Maybe those who understand real loyalty and commitment are more careful about where they give it because they know the true, long term cost and are willing to go there? It's just an observation I've made. Thoughts?