There are those, who to quote Mark Driscoll, are attracted to ministry "because it's inside work with no heavy lifting." But I'm learning that if I'm going to be an effective leader, I've gotta 'grow a pair'. Part of growing in effectiveness is learning how to manage weeks like these. One of the ways I handle serious frustrations is talking with my good friend and fellow Church-planter, Russ Koelzer of Lifestream Christian. Russ is about 10 years older than me, so he can give me good perspective as he talks me off the ledge, which he's done several times. Russ told me at the GEHS game on Friday night, "well, the good news is that no matter what bad stuff may happen in the future, you can always say 'at least it wasn't as bad as that week in October of 08.'"
The week that Pastor Andy has christened "the week from hell" began on Sunday morning with some serious difficulties during set-up and ended with no one showing up for the service project on Saturday morning. In the middle of the week, I tried to mediate and navigate some very difficult interpersonal conflicts as well as handling some serious criticism that came from outside of TFC.
I have to share the one bright spot, though, it was Friday night's Trunk-or-Treat. We had a lot of families there and I heard several conversations about TFC. It almost didn't happen though, it was raining right at the beginning but thankfully, the rain stayed light and eventually let up.
I'm obviously not going into much detail but this week was emotionally and physically exhausting. I'm sure learning some things, though. 1) When you're serious about changing the world for Jesus, the enemy will fight like the beaten dog that the enemy is. As I was warned about by church planters my last year in seminary, the attacks always come from within. Misguided, but usually well-meaning fellow Christians who feel they need to correct your errors. Fighting amongst each other is the enemy's way of keeping us from what Jesus really wants us to be doing. I'm not, by the way, meaning from within TFC but from within the larger church community. 2) God uses these type of difficulties to strengthen my mettle as a leader. I'm learning how to navigate personal conflicts, learn from other's perspectives, own my own mistakes and how to 'grow a pair' and confront when necessary. 3) I'm guessing this week might be a 'worst case scenario' and since I've survived and even grown, I know I'll have the strength to face whatever may happen in the future. 4) I'm remembering to focus on the long term. The pastor who dedicated me as a baby retired last week. In the middle of this week, I was wondering how I could make another year let alone 35 more years. If I'm going to make it though, I need to find ways to de-stress my system and stick to healthy habits that strengthen me in holistic ways. Walking along the river and taking pictures helped me refocus on Thursday. Running, rest, prayer and scripture reading will give me the strength to get up every morning for 40 some years in a row.
As we keep doing the right thing, over and over and over, the positive results will continue to add up. It's going to take some guts of steal, though.