Thursday, June 30, 2011

Well, wouldya look at that... the world goes on without me.

Roughly 10 years ago, my friend Beth spoke words into my life that would stick with me forever.  We worked together at the church and she would often listen to me lament about not having enough volunteers/chaperones/whatever for one of my three areas of ministry.  One day as I was whining about not having someone to ___ (I have no idea what the issue of the moment was) and saying I would just go ahead and do it myself, she challenged me and said, "Becky, if you continue to jump in and do everything yourself, you're limiting God.  Do you really think that He won't send someone else to serve?  If you're doing it all the time, they are never going to step up."

Ouch.... but a good ouch.

I have continued to think of that wise counsel multiple times over the years.  No one will step up as our new Bunko Queen?  No one to answer the question in Small Group?  No one to take care of a minor detail that I am certain only I can do?  Hmmm... maybe I should step back long enough to allow someone else the chance- the blessing- of doing the thing I'm so eager just to "do" and get done with.

Along came VBS at our church.

Now, those of you who knew me back when I was a Children's Minister can attest to the fact that, well, I kinda sucked at it.  It was not in my gifting... and it wasn't done with excellence.  The one thing in that area that I did "well" was Vacation Bible School.  That, my friends, was a party.  I can do parties.  So for a few years in Chapel Hill, we knocked out some good VBSes.  We moved here in 2002 and the church where we landed didn't do a VBS.  Fine.  But I told each of the 3 people responsible for the Children's Ministry over the next 6 years that if they ever decided to do one, I was their girl.  I can do VBS.

2008 rolled around and we were given the go-ahead to put on a VBS at our church.  Unbeknown to me, my friend, Laurie (also a former Children's Minsiter) had been saying the same thing- if we ever did a VBS, she'd be "in", too.  So three of us (the current Children's Minister, Tiffany, at this point was "just" a friend... yet now is a sister) sat down together and talked about what VBS would look like in a church our size.  We prayed about how many volunteers we would need to execute such an event.  We prayed about how we would use our space.  We prayed about who would be our teachers, who would lead games, who would run... well... everything else.

June 2008- Power Lab Summer BLOCK Party happened.  (Vacation Bible School... with a twist!- became our tag line.  We didn't want to be just another VBS- our town has tons of good VBS programs, so we wanted to fill the niche of a "true" Block Party and invite our nearby neighbors to join us.)  It was a glorious, stressful 4 days.  And the idea of SBP caught in the hearts of those at our church.

Of course, the next year I was "back" to do SBP one more time.  June 2009- Crocodile Swamp.  We already had the basic tools and model to be able to execute another super SBP.  This thing was now something that not only our kids, but our volunteers looked forward to.

June 2010- High Seas Expedition.  By this year, we'd increased the number of directors from 3 the first year, 5 the second, to now 8 the third.  We'd realized that over the years we needed more hands on deck to implement the curriculum  for a church our size.  By 2010, our numbers were around 450 volunteers and 500+ kids participating.  By the end of the week we all pried our shoes off, sat down to rest, and enjoyed the favor of God and man at a job well done.

Planning for an event like this doesn't just happen a month before the week of SBP.  The previous year's experience gets debriefed, at least once, shortly after the event.  We try to learn from our mistakes and make note of our strengths.  Still fresh from the exhaustion, we spit out all we can call to mind from the week.  And we begin planning for the next one.  Then, around January, the new team is formed.  We begin meeting every other week for a while, then closer to the event we meet weekly.  This says nothing of the individual meetings a director would have with anyone in their areas of leadership.

So this January when it was time to tell Tiffany if I was going to serve again, I said "no".


My standard line to anyone who asked was, "Three years is plenty!  It's time for a break."  But deep down, I knew that the words of Beth were alive and well in my mind.  If I continued to do this job- even though I could, even though I loved it, even though- by then- I was "good at it"... was that limiting someone else from stepping up?  Was God nudging someone else to be a director who might not do it if I always did?  Was it time for a change from the way I did things?  With all of these things in mind, I told Tiffany I would gladly serve how she needed me, but I wasn't going to be a director.  The beauty of how SBP had been run is that we'd created some fairly good self-sustaining systems and formats that would be easy for someone else to step in and run.

Last night, we ended our fourth year of SBP.  We had a record number of kids.  We had loads of them accept Christ, desire to be baptized, and hear of the love of Jesus in a new way.  I was still able to be a part- I got to hang out with the people who led in the sanctuary.  And, I got to help out with the bullhorn- my favorite part.  There were moments that would have looked different if I'd been a director.  Not better, not worse, just different.  My mark would have felt more like me... and I wonder if that would have gotten in the way.  One tiny example of this was on the workday- there was a great sign up telling everyone what time their groups would be meeting.  Beautifully laid out- beautiful penmanship.  For years, I'd been asked to do the (handwritten) signs because I have neat handwriting.  Funny, though, when I wasn't there to do it, someone else who had great handwriting (but never trusted themselves with it!) was able to make a perfect sign... without my help.

Whaddaya know... the world goes on without me.

It's an arrogant place to live when we think that we have to do something or it won't happen.  That doesn't mean that we're all supposed to just sit back and wait for someone else to do things.  When you are clearly called to serve somewhere, do it.  But, it's a beautiful- FREEING- place to be when you can step back, watch the systems you helped create, the people that you love, and the event that you have passion for run all on its own... and you just get to experience it.  None of us are so important that the world will stop turning if we sit back.  In fact, the view is often much better there.


Sarah said...

I took this post to heart today when I almost volunteered to take on something else for church... so thanks for sharing those very true, important thoughts about letting others do their piece of the kingdom's work too.... xoxo slt

Claire said...

I stopped reading at "bunko" to drop down and comment that I, for the record, enjoy Bunko.

Claire said...

I finished reading and want to say I, for the record, also have unusually neat (and straight) handwriting for things like posters/signs.