Wednesday, March 16, 2011

A New Chapter

This blog was originally written Friday, Mar 4th but I postponed publishing it until the official announcement regarding a change in my job responsibilities was made today.
Today i said, “i have to blog this.”
I haven’t said that in a long time. You see, for the past five or so months our church (where I work) has been in a leadership crises. Our Senior Pastor and our Session came to an impasse and dissolved their relationship. After some mediation he resigned followed by the Session resigning.
I love Pastor Ron. I grew up working under his leadership because he challenged me and I believe because he prayed for me. I hope he still does. And, I believe in the biblical authority of Godly church leadership, in our case, an elder board. So, for me, this has been a very challenging season of ministry. But I learned a lot.

I learned that peoples reaction are really about way more than this situation. We bring our own wounds into our reactions to stress and change.

I learned that people who don’t trust one another misunderstand even simple things

I learned that seemingly conflicting emotions/thoughts can coexist. I can love and respect and appreciate you and believe that it’s time for you to submit, even if that means moving and even if I wish none of this was happening.

And I learned the value of silence. I quickly decided I was going to be quiet. I was going to pray and strive for unity and to be part of a team who created services which could be a sanctuary for our congregation. I felt peace about being quiet, maybe for the first time. You see, I am a lover AND a fighter.

In the aftermath of all of this, our church announced significant lay-offs and staff reductions. And today, 48 hours after the layoffs were announced I said, “I have to blog this.” Because if you look at the decision and how it will affect me you might mistakenly think that it was a bad decision. But, in this case, I want to share with you how I see the fingerprints of God all over this transition.
Here is my side of my story.
We have known there would be layoffs for months. Literally months. And as things got closer I had a strong feeling that it would be one of the 3 full time members of my ministry team. I didn’t feel like it was going to be me, though I know that was an option and discussed several times, as it should have been. So, that left me time to think about how I felt about either of the other two leaving.
Bill Hybels, in a leadership summit talk years ago outlined a process for making big decisions. One point was to make a private test decision and not to share it with anyone, but to imagine it had happened and see if it brought you peace. So, I did that. And, as I imagined myself saying to anyone “yes, I think it was the right decision that I stayed and (insert name) left” I wanted to vomit. I was not at peace.
But what could I do? I was not in the decision making drivers seat. So what is a girl to do? Well, if I am honest, being the take life in to my own hands person that I am, I strongly considered quitting so that they could both stay. And then I was reminded who holds my future. Insert the cheesy 70’s praise chorus “Because He Lives” here.
I decided to trust God for my future at a church I love, in the best job I have ever had. And, when I had the opportunity to speak in to the value of my teammates I took it. Because no one knows better than I what their value is, how they live authentic Christ following lives, how they love our church and how their particular strengths and gifting are needed for such a time as this in the life of that church.
There were definitely times when I wondered what would happen to me. In fact God and I did a lot of talking about that, especially on the day the final staffing cuts were being decided.
A few times in my life I have felt a very strong prompting, the voice of God and this situation was one of those. I felt Him telling me I was not to accept an offer unless it was something I felt called to do. Well, i looked around and no one was offering me anything. So then I began to fret about what i would be offered, and having to say no and what would come next… for instance how it would go when I came home and told Michael, “well, God told me it wasn’t the right offer.”
Within a couple hours, I was told there was an outside chance that I could be offered a different role on our staff.
Can’t make this stuff up.
As the details unfolded I felt dizzy.
The ONLY staff role I would leave my current job for, was being described in great detail for me. It would be challenging and mean changing my focus from some things and a lot of people that I love. But this new offer, this role is in my DNA. I thought it had to be a joke. Like Jay had finally begun to record a reality show at work and the joke was on me. Then I realized what was happening. This was God saying, “I hold your future.” So I agreed to the idea and waited to hear the outcome.
Pathetically, not minutes after this God moment I began to doubt... doubt I had heard the prompting, and was afraid to hope for my future at Sunset. How very human of me. How quickly we become stupid like those who actually physically walked with Christ then doubted His existence.
Days later, as I’m celebrating my eleventh anniversary on staff the day of staff layoffs it was announced that this new role was the official decision. Are you kidding me?
The result is that I am transitioning to a new role on our ministry staff. And, I couldn’t be more exited or stressed out. The road there is going to be chaotic. But I love managing change and chaos.
Brass tax, the transition time means giving up 25 hours of the job i currently do. It means resourcing another team for another ten or so and then it means creating a new role, a new way of doing things, a new adventure.
And, it means I will be home on Thursday nights for the first time in 17 years. I’ve never seen a Seinfeld or a Friends episode on Thursday night. It means that my “producer” t-shirt will only refer to my role as mother and if He and Willow see fit, the best volunteer gig I've ever had, working for the Global Leadership Summit. And it means that I will attend church, more often than not, like a normal person. Whatever that is.
It also means that I am looking for and noticing, even in the past two days, how God has been present and paving the way to this day.
Present, in the fact that one facet of my new role landed me in a room talking with two women who would have been strangers to me two months ago. But, today both these women are friends. You see, God knew it was time for our relationship to bloom months ago so that we would have a foundation of trust to begin a new season from. A season where the only common ground we share is a passion for ministry and general sense that what I’m doing doesn’t make sense to any of us, yet.
Present, in the scheduling of the worship team this weekend, the next to last that I will serve in my role as a Weekend Service Producer at Sunset. Because, two of the three people who invited me in to this adventure, into my first service planning meeting, were in the room when we announced my role change tonight during devos.
Present, and paving a road for me that I couldn’t have created for myself. I don’t remember feeling more like I have no idea what I’m doing while also feeling more in the center of God’s will. And then I remember the lesson that seemingly conflicting emotions/thoughts can coexist.


kathy said...

It breaks my heart and makes me SO excited for you all at the same time. Love you, Lady!

Tyler said...

Loved this.

And it just wouldn't be fair if I wasn't the person who let you know that both Seinfeld and Friends are no longer on the air. That ended a while ago :)

Debbie J said...

I am so thankful for your willingness to listen for God's voice and trust Him to provide for you, challenge you, and surprise you. Your faith and obedience are blessing those around you (and those who are far away but read your blog). Through your example, we are challenged to increase our own faith and obedience. I am excited to see how God uses you in this new position and how he will grow and change you through this process. I am blessed to call you friend. Thank you for your servants heart, obedience and faith!

Bonnie Gorshe said...

I'm having a hard time imagining post-Janet services. All I can say is thank you times a million for all you've done. The church will need to rely heavily on volunteers and I can't think of a better person to mobilize everyone.

Anonymous said...

As usual...I am reading your stuff, not the other way around. :) You made me a better person and leader, and served this ministry and church so well its ridiculous. And though the role my shift, who you are and who He is remains, and that's a good thing for this church.

Anonymous said...

I'm so excited for you Janet! Thanks for the beautiful articulation of these last few months that have been so challenging and painful in our church body. You described the difficutly of it all so well.

It will be strange not to see you upfront by the stage -- coordinating all the numerous details each Sunday. You have done an amazing job along with your incredible ministry partners! I can't thank you enough!!

I love your heart and love who you are. Look forward to watching God continue to work in and through you in this new role. -Lins

Rose said...

beautifully written. what incredible insight into your heart. i love how authentic you are Janet. thank you for having faith like a child. you challege me. <3

Laura said...

J - you have helped me be a better leader, a better worshiper, a more critical thinker. I am blessed to have walked the worship road with you but more thankful that our paths have made us friends. Can't wait to see how you serving in the sweetest of your sweet spots will turn out for such good...hang on Sunset and Portland...God is on the MOVE!!!