Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Lest Confusion Reign

Today, as my husband and I are working side-by-side, we occasionally stop to share our work, our thoughts, and our questions with one another.  I know we take this for granted.  Yesterday we sat in a room for hours, listening to ourselves and some others do first run-throughs of summer sermons.  Later in the day, as we continued to process what we’d written, what feedback we’d received, and what work to do next, I thought about how fortunate we are to share in this work.
When we sought out ministry positions in the same church, we looked forward to days of ministering alongside one another.  In many ways, that hasn’t worked out like we thought.  My husband does not even go to church with the kids and me.  He’s at a different campus several miles away.  We don’t get to do church together, and we don’t get to see each other in action.  It’s hard, but he loves the work he’s doing there, so I pray it’s worth the cost.  It’s much easier now than it was a year ago, and in a couple of years, our son will be able to choose going to church with Daddy or Momma.
So, we don’t get to worship, study the Bible, or work with teenagers together as I’d imagined.  But we do get to work on sermons together.  That’s pretty cool.  Granted, it’s handy to have a walking, talking Bible and Bible commentary as a husband.  But it’s more than that.  It’s comforting and comfortable to be able to talk through the Bible, its interpretation, its application, and its communication with someone who gets me, my personality, my style, and my audience.
The Reverends Frame at a wedding we jointly officiated.
Today, I’m working on plans for the next student ministry program and a summer book club for women at church while he’s prepping for an important leadership meeting and a lecture on the Baptist Controversy of the 1970’s and 80’s.  I turn my computer around and get his opinion on which graphic to use for marketing.  He reads quotes from Baptist leaders on both sides of the controversy.
The quote that had us cracking up was from the announcement in 1983 when the Southern Baptist Convention decided with 58% of the vote that women would not be ordained or allowed to have authority over a man.  This decision was made “lest confusion reign.” 
I asked my husband if I confused him.  “Every dad’gum day!” he replied.
I guess we women are confusing creatures.  Just this morning I went from being a put-together, ready-to-tackle the day working mom to a blubbering mess…all because of one innocuous e-mail.  Of course, it wasn’t the e-mail that was the problem.  It was the incessant, interrupting, overlapping, agreeing, contradicting, questioning, self-doubting dialogue that the e-mail started in my head.  I’m sure that dialogue is confusing to my husband; it’s confusing to me, too—hence the tears!
Do women leaders sometimes cause confusion in the church?  Sure.
Do male leaders sometimes cause confusion in the church?  Sure.
Shame on us if confusion reigns in the church.
Shame on us if strategic plans reign in the church.
Shame on us if women pastors reign in the church.
Shame on us if male pastors reign in the church.
Shame on us if anyone or anything other than the Lord, the King, reigns on his throne, over his church.

Monday, April 2, 2012

All I've Ever Wanted

I’ve been parked at Starbucks to work most of today.  This is my favorite way to work—in a coffee shop with a White Chocolate Mocha, my laptop, my Bible, and a notebook nearby.  Earlier a song was playing, and the line, “This is all I ever wanted from life,” played over and over in my head.
That’s how I feel.  At the old age of 30, I have all I’ve ever wanted from life.  I’m married to the only man I’ve ever wanted to do life with.  I have two beautiful, loving, smart kids.  I have a rancher on a 2-acre lot, and we own two vehicles.  Okay, I’m a cliché, but I couldn’t be happier to be one.
This weekend I hated to be away from my family, but I got to retreat with some teenagers and other adults who love teenagers.  Saturday afternoon I sat on a dock with two sophomore girls who are in my small group.  Our toes were in a cool lake while the warm sun hit our faces.  We talked about boys and shaving our legs.  They talked about how rare it is for them to have a Saturday that’s free from school activities, babysitting jobs, and other responsibilities.  I gave them a Sabbath, a retreat.  I guess sitting on that dock with those girls was part of my “responsibility” as their youth pastor.  But all I could think was, “This is what I get to do for a living?!  Seriously?!”

We had a great weekend on our retreat, “Leave Your Fears Behind.”  We conquered our fears with a climbing wall and a giant swing.  (The name doesn’t do it justice; you wear a harness and get pulled higher than the pine trees, and then you let go and fly through the air.)  We conquered fears of eating baby food, ketchup-covered M&M’s, and pickled pig’s feet.  We identified with a man who approached Good Friday knowing the rejection, ridicule, pain, and death that awaited him.  We laid down our fears at His feet and remembered Him with communion.
Saturday evening I instructed everyone to represent their fears on a piece of paper.  As I sat down to follow my own instructions, I realized that my greatest fear is that I’ll mess it up.  I have all I’ve ever wanted from life, and I just don’t want to screw it up.  I see limitless potential in my husband, my son, and my daughter, and I don’t want to impede their growth or success. 
On the way home yesterday, I was riding shotgun with a friend who has been a partner in ministry for many years.  Most of the others in the vehicle (Molly, Sarah, Tanner, Daniel) work with me on a weekly basis to make our student ministry happen.  They didn’t have any responsibilities on this retreat, except for Tanner playing drums.  But they still showed up to services early offering to help, and they stayed late to clean-up that program and set-up for the next one.  They sent me texts offering their help with anything.  They welcomed me onto the volleyball court, even though I’m 5’2” and not much of an athlete…and we had a blast. 

As I sat in that vehicle with that group of people yesterday, my eyes welled with tears.  “This is my life?!  Seriously?!  I get to do THIS work with THESE people?!” 

I am overwhelmed.  I am grateful.  I am thankful.
This is all I’ve ever wanted from life.