When to Call It

Another good juxtaposition from WuMo:

WuMo Boxing(image from gocomics.com)

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Question to Questions

I ended yesterday’s post with a question: what’s a leader for?  It’s more of a thought-question, really, as I think that leaders are important, vital.  At the same time, how things play out when leaders aren’t around can be quite telling.

Four years ago, when I started in on what has become a much longer-than-expected vocational stretch, I thought it best to be a steward and not a change-agent.  Since it was temporary, we would work to hold things together, keep things moving, as we waited for the position to be filled.  And for four years we’ve done that.  As I considered what to do about an obvious “year five,” I came to some conclusions.  First, that year five would also be my last year.  And second, that we needed to try to take some of what we think we had been learning and and put it into practice.  Things continue on when even in the absence of leaders.  The work is potentially harder because “lay people” usually have other tasks to work on.  And even if change is possible in such circumstances, such circumstances make change even slower.

Or consider a church staff that spends more than a year in that interim period between pastors.  You’ve got staff divvying things up. You’ll also got deacons and other church leaders stepping in.  And then the interim steps in for things, too (at different intervals and levels of involvement).  It’s likely unsustainable and unhealthy in the long run.  But it’s also a real learning experience for everyone. (And likely why congregations stand in applause when a new pastor has been found).

So let’s say that you are an organization that has a strong mid-level bench, that steps up to the plate and learns and adapts well.  And the leader of the group, whatever it is, moves on.  Do you (a) hire someone who helps keep the machine running smoothly even if it means a little less obvious “leading” from the front or (b) do you hire someone to “take it to the next level” even if that means working at odds with those who had held things together in the interim?

It’s probably a false distinction, not likely to be such an “either-or.”  But that’s why it’s a thought experiment.  I totally understand the impulse for good, up front leadership.  But I also understand the realities of wisdom and competence on multiple levels.  It definitely shapes the kind of questions to ask of those looking to step in.

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Twice Bitten, Thrice Shy?

Two years ago, I was serving on two search committees.  One was for our high school’s Christian Ministries coordinator, a position that had been vacant for two years and that I had helped step in to partly fill.  The other was for our church’s senior pastor position.  At that point we had had an interim for a good while (after a series of shorter interim preachers).  As the school year turned to a close, both positions were filled.  The CMC would be coming in from one of the Carolinas.  The pastor would be coming in from Texas.  If nothing else, I was glad to have the positions filled with people who were competent and spoke well of the faith.  By that November, our Christian Ministries coordinator had called it quits.  This past Sunday, a couple of months shy of two full years, our pastor announced he would be going to the mainland in view of a call.

Turns out I don’t have a great track record with search committees.

And so second verse same as the first.  We’re still without a Christian Ministries coordinator at the high school.  I’m doing what I can to hold onto my teaching line while adding a faith integration assignment while also working with the chapel team each week.  I assume the next few weeks will bring some kind of “wrap up” to our current pastor’s time on the island.

There is one difference this time around, something at play that wasn’t on the radar two years ago: our high school’s principal is also moving on.  That’s a good thing, first for her.  She’s been at it for a long time and has more than earned an opportunity to rest and redirect.  I have often joked that when she retires, I retire.  Either way, it adds an interesting twist to my own current situation.  I did, a couple of months ago, let the powers-that-be know that I was not planning on continuing in the “5-year vocational stretch” with Christian Ministries beyond the 2021-2022 school year.  Five years is a long time for something so significant to be so temporary.  And so, if anything, this next year will hopefully be about putting “things learned” into practice.

It’s odd.  After last week’s announcement at church, it felt a bit like a story that had stalled was moving again.  That’s true on multiple levels and is more of an observation than a judgment.  What’s odd is that it’s coming so quickly.

And so a summer pastor-less, with a principal in transition, continuing a long-term temporary task.  If nothing else, it is a time where God can continue to show His faithfulness.  I definitely have questions for Him.  And I’m glad He is with me, with us, at all times and not just in times like these.  It’s a real reminder of where hope should reside.  And it is also a very powerful reminder of the significance of this question: what’s a leader for?

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Sunday’s Best: Rhyme and Time

There were a couple of good strips in the Sunday funnies, but today’s Frazz by Jef Mallett twists and turns really, really well.

Frazz Rhyme and Time(image from gocomics.com)

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Sunday’s Best: Quick and Easy

Another spot-on Nancy strip by Olivia Jaimes today:

Nancy OpinionsIt’s an unfortunate effect magnified by contemporary culture.  People have always made quick judgments.  Now it’s even easier to settle into them with even less reflection and with more comfort.

(image from gocomics.com)

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Sunday’s Best: Natural Reversal?

Lots of great Sunday funnies today.  This Nancy stands out as a great picture of how we tend to disorder things and illustrates how “we shape our tools and then our tools shape us.”  It’s funny- earlier daylight brings out some of the nicest birdsong in the neighborhood.  It’s nice not resenting that.

Nancy Nature(image from gocomics.com)

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Out the Door with 44

For what it’s worth, tonight is my last one as a forty-four year old.  A sobering moment at the gym today, now that I’ll have to put that button for age one time more than I have this last year.  Ah well.  Them’s the breaks.

The days have been packed, of course.  It’s Spirit Week on campus, so we’re averaging one assembly a day this week (one per grade level).  Beyond that, there’s chapel prep, along with scheduling and planning for meetings that are geared towards planning next year.  Oh, and there’s also class.  Today was a down-day, which was nice.  Did some classroom cleaning, had one meeting with students, took care of some emails, and prepped for tomorrow’s two assemblies.  Tonight has been for sketching out the chapel talk that we’ll record tomorrow.

It’s my second birthday in Covidtide.  This one will allow us to go back out into the world for a good barbecue dinner, I hope.  It will be a full day, for sure.  Friday, too.  And I’m hoping to use the occasion as a chance to start some shifting and moving things around with greater intention.

+ + + + + + +

This past December, I took a little retreat at a local (barely open) hotel to do some reflecting and some preparing for 2021.  It was a good time.  But it’s been almost four months and I still haven’t really been able to settle into the flow that I had hoped.  Things just keep popping up.  And then they aren’t popping up, I’m kind of tired.  So with 45 I need to carve out some space and work on some kind of balance.  (And yes, I well remember a speaker back in my college days who suggested that balance is a gift of the Holy Spirit, something I still believe on some level).  These last few years have been years of imbalance, of taking more at work without letting anything go.  And church, while there, has been more about “doing the work” than about anything that looks like relationship building and community.  Beyond that, there are bigger changes in store at work that I need to be ready for.  The managing of time at work has gone about as well as it could, but the rest of the time is just unproductive (actually a good thing, I fear).  In fact, it’s probably the productivity that is the key.  It’s been more of a hot house than a garden for me, and I’m hopeful that maybe 45 will help me smooth things out.

+ + + + + + +

A couple of Sunday’s ago, the classic Peanuts strip was pretty profound.  I saved it for a “later-in-the-week” spot that didn’t materialize because I haven’t been posting much here lately.  It’s a great example of the simplistic depth that Schulz could accomplish with his characters.

Peanuts Marcie Playing(image from gocomics.com)

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Sunday’s Best: A Different Kind of Streaming Service

Today’s FoxTrot by Bill Amend is a nice twist on an everyday reality: the new and different streaming service.  It seems like a new one pops up every few weeks, so something like Jason- is bound to happen at some point.

FoxTrot Jason Minus(image from gocomics.com)

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Sunday’s Best: Revenge of the Easter Chicken

Bill Amend’s FoxTrot takes the title for this week’s best with a slightly absurd but still chuckle-worthy stunt pulled by Jason Fox for Easter.

FoxTrot Easter Chicken(image from gocomics.com)

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Sunday’s Best: A Place for Poetry

It’s good to see poetry having a place in the comics, even if it is as a kind of weapon in childhood games.  Today’s classic Calvin and Hobbes by Bill Watterson:

Calvin and Poetry(image from gocomics.com)

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