Thursday, December 29, 2011

Equip, Encourage, Exhort

For the last few weeks, I have been struggling with a growing exhaustion and dissatisfaction in my role in our apartment ministry.  We have been doing this for 7 years, and this last year we placed 10 new community teams, 7 at brand new partner properties, and 6 of those teams were placed just between October and December.

Some teams I have really enjoyed training, some I feel like I either have to call all the time because they won't check in and tell me how they are doing (and usually have the most challenging managers/clients) and others are constantly calling me.  I have other teams who still haven't gotten to a point of success in their ministry, and I am continually trying to coach them to success.  I can't say that it has been the most enjoyable season.

I have been faced with soul searching as to why I am feeling exhausted and dissatisfied.  Much time has been spent in prayer, asking God to show me if it is my own heart issue, or something that requires a change of some sort, such as stepping away from the ministry.

I know part of it is that I am gifted as a "starter", and in my current role, much of what I do is not starting, but is maintaining the ministry.  When working against your gifting, it can be really exhausting and discouraging.  I do enjoy teaching, but I need to be more of a coach.  This requires patience and lots of question asking.  Not necessarily my strong suit.  It is important that the new teams aren't made to feel that they are bothering me.  That's part of my job.  They need a coach.

Part of it is that we rarely have time off where we are completely free, this vacation included.  I've had to check email every day, which has been lame.  We are still looking for a new team for a current client, and I have had phone calls from new teams needing wisdom.  Our entire leadership team is out of state, including us, and someone needs to be available.

On top of this, I long to spend much more time in our community, investing and spending time with the lost or new believers.  I long to be "on the front lines" of ministry.  I always encourage teams and others to involve non-believers in what they are doing. But for me to do that would be mostly inviting them to come watch me type emails, make phone calls or drive to meetings.  Not so fun nor effective discipling.  However, in writing that last sentence, I feel challenged that there must be something I can involve others in. (Note that we eat out 4 or more nights a week due to meetings with teams and/or accountability partners.)

Oh yes, one more do I raise a little boy, be an amazing wife, eat healthy, get exercise, and maintain all of the things for my own home?

Tonight, Eric and I talked about these things, which in itself allowed some release.  However, he said something that made me think.  He reminded me that we are called to equip, encourage, and exhort the team members, which allows them to be reaching out to thousands of people.  If we don't do this well, we will have 19 failing teams, meaning we are fully on the "front lines" of ministry.  This was encouraging to me in many ways, and I feel like God is calling me to embrace those three words as a theme for this year.  I also feel that God is exhorting me to not dwell on all of the downsides of leadership and to just focus on obedience to Him.  Basically, just do it and quit complaining.  If He desires for me to give up this role, he will make it clear.


The next step is to pray over, study the scriptures, and explore these three words this year.  Would love your input on all of that.  Will you join me?

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Cleaning with love...

Do you have the same struggle as Eric and I do?  Keeping our house clean for our own sanity seems almost impossible, and then the thought of a friend or neighbor dropping by without notice, just down right scary.  Okay, maybe not scary, but on those days/weeks when you have been crazy busy, it can be embarrassing.  Even putting in a work order can feel overwhelming.  I don't want anyone to see my mess.  But yet, when we do have people over, those are often the sweetest and most spiritually deep interactions.  So my struggle is finding that balance.

Another confession: Eric really struggles with feeling at peace when our home is messy.  I dislike dirt, but can handle piles to some extent because I almost always know where it needs to go, but just haven't gotten around to putting it there.  In our marriage, this has been the number one fight for us.  I have come to realize just how much it means to my husband to come home and feel peace.  It is now a much higher priority for me, although I still struggle with it on a daily basis.  I understand his need much more now, and can clean even with love for him.

My ultimate goal is that I want my house to be a place where people feel safe and comfortable; that it is a place of refuge.  I also want my house to be a place of comfort, purpose and joy for my own family. Since I don't have any great answers besides Nike's famous slogan, "Just Do It", I am opening it up for you to share.  Are there things that you are finding work well for you or for your family.  

My one tip to share with you this week:  I find when people are coming over on a regular basis, it is easier to keep up with the household tasks.  Why?  I think it's because knowing that someone will be here in a day means it is on my to do list as a priority.  It's no longer something I can do tomorrow.  In fact, we are thinking about reimplementing a set night for inviting friends over for dinner.  Have you found this to be true for you?

I'm looking forward to the dialog that comes from my vulnerability.  So when you drop by, and it looks good, know that it was cleaned with love.  If it doesn't, pray for me. :-)