Every interaction with the church leadership required careful battle planning. How to explain this? What part of their spiritual immaturity was most likely to explode? How to deal with that ahead of time, if at all possible? Who do I need to talk with before it’s brought up in council?
Any time we had a meeting of the leadership of the church, I would stress out. It was a cause of ulcerous concern. I really would call it battle planning, and it would start weeks ahead of every meeting. And considering we usually met about monthly, that meant a lot of my time was filled up with just dealing with church leadership. So much mental and emotional space was crammed with all that.
I would feel the pressure building up weeks and weeks in advance. I’d pray that this person or that would simply not being at the meeting, so we could just get the thing done or addressed and move on. I hated it.
I tried to build bridges. More than once we had the church leadership over to the house for just a friendly meal… and though it wouldn’t turn into an argument, it did turn into a business meeting. The leadership couldn’t just talk about how their lives were going with each other; it had to be about the church every time we got together. Not about Jesus, mind you – about the congregation.
The stress grew and grew. I dreaded the meetings. There were parts of ministry I looked forward to, but it rarely had anything to do with anyone in leadership. As the pressure built, I hated that part of the ministry more and more.
And then we moved.
I’ve been here two years now. And things are so much different here. There’s still plenty of sin. I don’t see eye-to-eye with my council all the time.
But… I don’t have to battle plan anymore. I do have to plan, but it’s not strategic moves to make sure we don’t have explosions in a meeting. We still will argue in council, but it’s not a concern that the church is going to tear itself apart.
And today we got to celebrate that.
I’ve been here two years. Last year at the anniversary of my service here, my Bride and I hosted the church leadership for a cookout at our home. We’ve decided to make that an annual thing. The church leadership and their families descended upon our house after church. Most families carried a side with them. (One family known for their sumptuous desserts brought an amazing cake that… ooooo… so good!)
And there was laughter. There was talk. There was discussion about golf and children and grandchildren and dark pasts and deep things and silly things and…
And it was good. Truly, it is so good when brothers live together in unity.
Can you hear the relief as I type this? How much pressure is just… gone from my ministerial life because this is possible here? I feel almost like sobbing in that sudden freedom of weight lifted. It is so, so good.
I don’t think the leadership here realizes what it is they have. They don’t understand what a blessing it is. Again, yes, it’s not perfect. We still dwell in a broken world. But to be able to sit back and be confident that… I don’t have to worry.
I am amazed.
After a few hours enjoying time in the backyard, everyone went on their ways. My Bride and I cleaned up and then napped, because even though it was good, it was an awful lot of peopling. And now this evening, I dwell in the afterglow.
I’ve gotten a few texts from some, thanking us for hosting a meal. While there are solid friends among the leadership team that get together, we don’t often get together like this as a team in such an informal environment. They enjoyed it, too.
I’m in such a different place, and I hope I never lose this since of wonder and gratitude over it. If I am called to a different location like the last, or something happens here that leads to that kind of environment, I pray I’m strong enough to share God’s Word confidently and lead well. I never want to go back, though.
I am blessed to be able to host the leadership here and enjoy the time with them. I’m blessed to have been here for two years.
I hope for many more.