Saturday, March 29, 2008

(spring) Break

These past two weeks have been a change of pace. With the kids on spring break, Steve and I have danced a fine waltz of schedule rearranging and child entertaining. In the end, I worked less hours at the office, turned my eye toward warming up this white box of an apartment, and relished my role in this beautiful, dancing family of mine. I painted walls, arranged art, dusted, played Sorry and Old Maid and Memory and Labyrinth. I took long walks along the Hudson, listened to Rob Bell on my ipod, and encouraged the crocuses and daffodils as they reached for the sun. (I also chased away the squirrels as they ate the crocus blossoms. I didn't know they did that, did you?)

I ate well,
slept well,
was well.

Oh, I needed a break. I knew I needed a break, but I hadn't realized the magnitude of my need.
No one ever said this work (and by that, I mean all of it--moving the family, adjusting to city life, working full time in a challenging position, and the small matter of facilitating a Christian community from scratch in the middle of Manhattan) would be easy. No, in fact, everyone said it would be very, very hard. And it is.

Here's the most difficult part: every single bit of it. You see, it's all tied together. We meet people, we get to know them, we eventually invite them to be part of this great community, this thing that we believe in so very much... and if we aren't looking at it the right way, it's easy to think that the success of this plant is based solely on our personal likability and charisma. Or maybe it's based on our ability to plan an insightful worship service, or pick the right book for book club, or design the right logo. If a church planter isn't careful, and wise, their sense of personal self worth will become inextricably linked to the success of the church. On a large scale, that becomes a formula of: Church Success = Personal Value Increased.

But on a smaller, every day, scale, it could become a manic depressive roller coaster of something like this:
"Good" attendance at our gatherings = Great day, this church is great! I'm great!
Lower attendance at our gatherings = This is never going to work. What was I thinking?
Encouraging, full of praise email at 10:00 = Great day, this church is great! I'm great!
Email with one sentence of mild criticism at 10:01 = This is never going to work. What was I thinking?

We once visited a church that had an absolutely fantastic room for their youth group. It was full of video games, pool tables, comfortable furniture, and good music. And across the entire back wall, scrawled in letters 3 feet tall, were the words
It's not all about you.

Thanks for the reminder.

This church is God's church. He calls us to be obedient, to use the talents He's given us in the best way we know how. He will build this community in His way and in His time. The people in it are God's people, holy and dearly loved by the Almighty Creator of the universe. It's not all about me.

That being said, I can take a deep breath. I can celebrate the many, many joys of building a community, and I can face the challenges with the absolute certainty that my value lies in Christ's love, and that God's kingdom is being built. That's God's kingdom, not mine.


diane said...


i love it for so many reasons that i can't even unpack it.

Continue to Breathe, girl.

chelle said...

I am so happy you had a glorious break. Thanks for reminding me where my value lies.


MiniMe Mom said...

Sometimes your courage and wisdom astounds me.