I Got This

Shortly after I became a mother someone very close to me in my life thought they could parent my children better than I could, it wasn’t anything personal against me, (took be a long time to figure that out) it’s just that she thought she was the best at mothering, ever.

I would get so upset, she would change the rules for my young children, rules and schedules that worked for my family and my household. I’m not talking about a visit to grandma’s where cookies before dinner were okay, I mean implementing strict household rules in my household. I mean sitting at my dinner table while I answer a question to my daughter and having myself interrupted for her to give her instruction to my daughter.

I would sit in my therapist’s office and cry in anger.

I realized, with my therapist help, that she thought there was not enough discipline in my household, so she was going to fill the role. And who disciplines? The parents, or the leaders. So with the help of my therapist I learned a phrase. One to “keep in my back pocket.” I let the little stuff go, but when I needed to I would pull it out. “I got this.” I would hold my hand up calmly and methodically and say, “I got this, thank you though.”

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It has proved helpful in so many ways.

Years ago when I was working on my pastoral identity (an ongoing process) I painted a picture for my spiritual director of how I worked as a leader. (this BTW is not a perfect analogy)

I come along when the church is in a rut. There’s a leadership (non violent) fox hole (or bunker) with no one or very few people in it and a lot of people standing starring in. I come in and fill it. Sometimes with dirt (things that don’t need to be replaced) or dig out space (for new things) as I have the gifts and the ability to do almost everything in the church bunker. It took a while in my first call learn that I couldn’t do that for very long, without it being soul crushing. So I started pulling people in with me, supporting them and teaching them to take over roles, not just anyone, but the people called, using their gifts. When the bunker was full or someone got tired or toxic we learned to replace or shift them and have a steady stream of people in and out, moving around, and eventually I am no longer needed and am lifted out, off to find a new bunker.

The most important thing for your ego as a leader, admit that all those people that came to replace you, may not do it better than you, but it’s better that they are doing it.

Do you get that? Because it’s kind of beautiful when it works. John 14:12 says that once he is gone, we will do all the things that Jesus has done, and more.

We are not Jesus, but we are better together. This is proven over and over in every leadership book. If I do it all myself (for longer than a short period of time), then when I get out of the bunker, there is still a void. And voids, my friends, is where destruction happens.

There is a catch or two- 1) you MUST be called to THIS bunker at THIS time, it’s the Esther moment. The other problem with this is that sometimes someone or a group of people jump in the bunker and say, “it’s time for you to get out now.” This person/group are the ones who want to be the ones to fill the void, they think there’s glory in it, or just simply don’t understand the process.

When creating a healthy system from a leadership void you almost have to overstay your welcome in the bunker. At my last church I overstayed by about 2 years. I needed to for family reasons and it gave them a sense of security in a rough time. I used to think this was a bad thing for all of us, but now I realize that it was the best thing.

Things aren’t perfect there and some may even be mad at me for “abandoning” them, but I needed to leave the bunker so they could see what they were made of, they knew how to run that church and they hired a pastor who did the things they needed him to do, and ONLY the things they need him for. In other words they said, “We got this!”

If I left earlier then the confidence wouldn’t have been there. God is pretty wise sometimes…

However, my heart breaks for the moments of mutiny. I have been working with several young pastors who really relate to this analogy, and I’ve been there. Either they seal a lid on you leaving you stranded and alone, or they force you out without understanding that important last step, “overstaying”. Because overstaying is where you pretending to be holding on to the seat, but really, they’re riding the bike all on their own without training wheels.

It’s about confidence. Without the last step of perceived overstaying, they never gain the confidence ride freely, to look back and say, “I got this, thanks though.” As you wave them into their future.

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2015: The Year of Shalom

The word of the 2015 is Shalom. Despite the fact that my Brother-in-law was hoping for falafel. But alas, it’s Shalom – Wholeness, Peace. It is both a greeting and a farewell.

Peace with what?

Specifically: Me.

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I’ve lived for a long time in a shadow of trying to conform. Conforming to a world, to another’s expectations, to wanting. I want more than anything to be understood, accepted, beloved, cherished.

Guess what? I’m not perfect, but I am learning to move past rejection and be at peace with me. I like who I am – I’m strong, I’m confident, I’m imaginative, creative, smart, talented. I cast a large shadow myself, thank you very much, and I’m tired of apologizing for it. Truth is there are only a few people asking me to, and you know what? They don’t need to matter as much as I allow them.

I deserve to be at peace with me.

I also deserve to be at peace with the respect that I deserve.

I want to be at peace with the times that I can only be “good enough”. When life didn’t do me any favors I want to be at peace with the capacities I do have. I want to be at peace with the fact that I deserve better. That I am enough, myself, that I am a whole person who has the right to be with someone she loves, and that person not be in love with someone else and trying to decide if he “wants” to be with me.

I want to live a whole life this year.

I’m a good mom, it’s different than I wanted, but I am a good mom, I want to be at peace with the way I parent, for myself and for my kids. I want to be at peace with how excitable they are and how hard I laugh with them. I want to be okay with the fact that we chase each other around stores in superhero costumes. That we sing silly songs to each other, that people stare. I want to be at peace with people’s stares. With the fact that sometimes good enough means that we have hot dogs and watch a movie at dinnertime.

I want to be at peace with the depth of my feelings. My joys and my sorrows. I love with my whole heart. I’m tired of holding back. I’m intense; I need to make peace with that, because if you are in that circle around me, you’ll experience it and it’s like staring into the sun. I can be filled with such love and grace for another human being that I am in awe of this gift God has given me. Yet, I also need to be held, and loved, and cared for, someone to kiss my head and tell me I’m beloved, worth every intense second.

I need to be at peace with the fact that, in order to protect my children, and myself, not just anyone can be this person.

I need to be at peace with the fact that it simply hurts too much to love someone that doesn’t or won’t love me and treat me with respect. That living a whole life means saying goodbye to the people who hurts me and subsequently, my family.

I need to be at peace with the fact that I need and I deserve reciprocation of my love.

Mostly, I want to be at peace with the unknown. I want to receive the unexpected gifts of each day, I want to rest more, play more, wonder more, sing more in public, dance more. I may even want to go on a date, and be at peace with that, and I need to be at peace with the fact that the man I was in love with for half my life probably won’t care that I do.

In order to do that I need to live Shalom. I need to live into the Shalom of life and not the anxiety of it.

What’s this year going to look like? I have no idea. But it starts here, today, it starts by not compromising myself. It starts by being at peace with myself. It starts by not apologizing for who I am and not submitting to who you think I should be.

It starts by calming the inner voices of “not enough” and “too much”.

It starts by embracing that Shalom is the way God intended life to be. That my hope rests in God, that I am fearfully and wonderfully made.

Hello 2015, Thank God you’re here. I’ve been waiting for you.

Fret Not, It Tends Only To Evil

There is plenty in this world to worry about. “Why worry about tomorrow when today has worries enough of its own?” Jesus asks.

Because it’s what I do, I worry.  I worry that I am not living up to all the expectations.

Who’s expectations? I am asked.

Mine, the world’s, I don’t know.  My family, my congregation, the drive inside me that pushes me to do better, be better, do everything well and perfect.

But I am not perfect. And I find comfort in the idea that God did not create me “perfect” for this world. This world and I don’t get along so well sometimes.  I fit the criteria admittedly, I am “successful” in Western terms of the word but I don’t always fit the mold.  I like that about myself.

There is a joke by those who know me best that “she’s humble too” in my confidence, but the reality is yes, there is a humility in a certain kind of confidence.  God gave that to me.  I think about David who walked out without armor to meet Goliath, there was a humility to his confidence.  A humility in being God’s follower, knowing where his power lay. He could have died, he either knew this and didn’t care, or he there was a beauty in his confidence (or stupidity…).

What we do not hear is that he worried. Why worry about tomorrow, or this next moment?  Tomorrow will have worries of its own.  Today however, I shall live in a humble confidence that I am a child of God, loved and claimed to do the work of the Spirit in this world.  Thanks be to God. Amen.