Wednesday, April 20, 2005

What I Have Learned

Note: the imperatives are meant for me: this is a list from me to me. Not to you. So when I say "be aware" it's a reminder to me. Third edit to fix spacing. Third time's the charm?

I am finishing my second year of Contextual Education (similar to Supervised Ministry, Internships, many other things at other seminaries.) I've written my self-evaluation -- not in the format that is desired, but it's a little more authentic.

What have I learned this year?
1. Behavior does not exist in a vacuum. Including my own.
2. It’s really hard to do Con Ed in my own congregation.
   a. It’s hard to have a friend as my Con Ed Site Supervisor.
3. Criticism should be taken seriously, not personally.
4. Listening never hurts.
   a. Learn to bite your tongue.
   b. It’s easier to just listen than back up and try to take it back.
5. When you become church staff instead of church member,
   you get to go under a microscope.
   a. Things the members will criticize:
     i. Your earrings.
     ii. The way you speak to your children.
     iii. The way you treat your spouse.
     iv. The way you make Chicken Salad Sandwiches.
6. Criticism should be taken seriously, not personally.
7. It was a good thing to put my kids in childcare that isn’t my church.
8. Family is more important than anything at church.
9. For most people, the perception IS the reality.
10. I can’t make everybody happy. Get over it.
11. Remember the parable about the lead, rubber and glass balls.
   Know which ones can be dropped,
   know which ones should be let go of.
   Know which I should protect.
12. Boundaries sometimes are bad,
   knowing the location of the foul lines is good.
   a. Be prepared to handle the fallout if I cross the foul line.
   b. Small course changes done early can save large course
     changes later.
13. Spaces between people, if not filled with useful communication,
   will be filled with garbage.
   a. One person’s passing on a prayer request is someone else’s
     gossip. Be careful.
14. A church is a network of relationships.
   a. It starts with my relationships: with God and my family.
   b. The best ways to create relationship is by teaching small groups,
     hospital visits, home visits and social events.
   c. The best way to know people is not to talk, but to listen.
15. A church member may not remember your sermon or prayer,
   but will never forget your hospital visit, or your care
   for the family at the nursing home and funeral home.
   a. Don’t worry about what to say at these times.
     My presence is what matters.
16. Meaningful worship is a lot of work – but a large part can be left
   to God.
   a. Some people sweat the details – take care of their anxiety.
     Some people don’t sweat the details – they need to keep lists.
     i. Altar Guild is really big into details.
     ii. The music minister is big into details
     iii. The senior minister is not. Nor am I. Don’t forget it.
   b. It’s hard to hold a volunteer or lay person responsible.
     Time critical things for worship need to be taken care
     or followed up by me personally.
   c. I now know how to properly clean paraments and fill the
     altar candles.
   d. There is a fine line between providing guidance and leadership
     and the perception of “taking over.” Be aware of it.
17. Any and every committee meeting can be and will be improved by
   starting with prayer and devotional.
   a. Especially if it is the Prayer Ministry committee meeting.
18. It’s not my job to fix people. That’s God’s job. Thank God.
19. I love to preach. I love to teach. I love hospital visits.
   I love serving communion.
20. I hate details. I fear being bored. I do not sit still and listen
   for the voice of God. I need to become more disciplined,
   not in my study of the Word, but of my listening in prayer.
   Attend to the holy, and it’s all holy in one way or another.
   Even putting the raisins in the bread.

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