The pastor of the “Mayberry” Presbyterian Church/ First in Mt. Airy, NC, Steve Lindsley encouraged me this past Sunday to start blogging again. I was there to preach for morning worship and had the added bonus of connecting again with my college and summer camp friend Steve.
Well, Steve is right: it has been almost a month since my last entry. I apologize to you faithful readers out there. On January 20th I wondered about a “new way forward.” With the financial crisis hitting our seminaries I was very concerned about what would be our next steps. Some plans are being put into place, but it will not be easy. I guess I needed a mini-sabbatical, of sorts, from writing. So thank you for your patience.
Well, I did have some time with my a cohort group of mine that began with the Union-PSCERehoboth Project in the Synod of the Mid-Atlantic and my presbytery, Coastal Carolina, in particular. A Sustaining Pastoral Excellence project, Rehoboth, gathered presbytery staff, pastors, educators and college staff together to rest and reflect in a wide open and freeing way. Although our grant money provided by the project and the Lilly Endowment has run out, our group continues to gather no less than annually. It always feels like a mini-sabbatical… one I needed. I believe all church leaders need time away with a cohort of colleagues.
So after preaching at First Presbyterian in Mt. Airy, I was able to easily make the transition into another SPE project of the Office of Theology and Worship: Reforming Ministry. A group of Presbyterian seminary and college folk along with presbytery executives and pastors gathered for three days of intense reflection on a Healthy Pastoral Eco-System. I and others were renewed by the forward thinking ideas discussed.
It's teacher conference time at our house and my eight year old son’s teacher asked my son, Garrison, to fill out a report on his progress. Last night I reviewed that report. He marked areas he felt he had mastered and other areas where he needed to grow. The last question asked about what he wished he had more time to do. He responded in this way: “Read, write, and look out the window.”
This morning I asked him what he meant by looking out of the window? Although he is fairly introverted and able to stay quite focused on any given project he answered in a profound way. “When I look out the window, things are not moving so my thoughts are not interrupted.”
Take time today or soon… for a moment or for a few days to “look out of the window” to “get in the balcony” as Ron Heifetz says… to rest, reflect, and imagine… to take a mini-sabbatical. It is not an act of laziness; it is a practice of leadership.
Lee in Louisville.
PS. The picture above was taken today from my desk chair... my place to look out a window and see the real world, a crumbling warehouse building behind the Presbyterian Center. I, for one, hope it is not renovated when the new arena goes in a block away! It is a symbolic reminder of where ministry is needed.