Thursday, July 24, 2008

Aspiring to New Heights

My cat, Wylie, is obsessed with heights. As a kitten he'd try and jump as high as he could and grab door frames, holding on for dear life. Then he accomplished the mantle over our fireplace, from the floor to the bar in our kitchen, and my 4' tall dresser. His most recent feats were from the floor to the top of the refrigerator, then from my dresser to the top of an open door (which he stood on like a balance beam for a minute!) and finally from the fridge to the top of the kitchen cabinets. Since reaching what I would think of as the highest point in the house, he's become obsessed with finding something higher. He climbs on things and paws around door frames, trying to find footing to stand on. He looks at the ceiling constantly and meows if he can't get to where he wants to go.

I thought he'd achieved it all (except for an awkward ledge that I hope he never discovers--we'd have no way of getting him down). And then this morning, while getting ready for work, I heard a loud crash. It sounded like the blinds were being torn from a window downstairs. But no destruction, or Wylie for that matter, could be found. A little later, I heard another crash. I went downstairs and once again couldn't find any evidence of his mischief. This time I went exploring. I found Wylie in our office, sitting in front of a tall bookshelf with a box of legos lying next to him. The first crash must have been an attempt at the top of the shelf, only to find himself sliding down the window blinds. The second must have been more successful--if only the legos hadn't blocked his way!

Wylie will stop at nothing to reach new heights, and will try and try again despite failed attempts. During my quiet times this morning, I found myself asking God to help me see through His eyes what would make our ministry GREAT. I feel like we've been doing a good job, but I don't want to settle for that. I don't want to ever get comfortable or complacent in a well-working ministry. Just like Wylie isn't content to settle for the top of a refrigerator, I want to keep looking for new heights.

I admire that once Wylie finds a new jumping point, he practices that leap over and over again to become more confident for his next adventure. It's only been a matter of weeks between discovering the refrigerator and this morning's attempt. How often do we accomplish something in ministry and then say "done," and sit at that place for a year, or even years? We need to make sure that when implementing something new we master it, but once it's working well, look for new and additional things to master.

I'm curious where I'll find my cat when I return home. And, I'm curious where I'll find my ministry when we start looking up and diligently checking for new heights.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

I Haven't Been Rubbed Raw

I recently read a collection of rants from various children's ministry leaders here. As I read the passionate testimonies of frustration I was reminded how blessed I am to be here at Morning Star. I've also been following a thread on the Kidology Network where people share situations in which they were "hung out to dry" by the leadership of their church. Either I'm very forgetful (which I don't think is the case) or once again, I'm blessed.

I've seen enough difficult situations through my mom's experiences as a Children's Director to know that sometimes there's just nothing you can do to avoid trials and tribulations in ministry. And because of those trying times, I can recognize that my work situation is unique. But I've also learned that there are things I must do in order to receive the respect I hope for.

As a woman in ministry, I need to remember that the people I serve under are men, and therefore, their minds and feelings work differently than mine. Just as I need to show my husband grace when he doesn't react to a new purchase (like a purse or shoes) the way a girlfriend would, I need to show my boss grace when he approaches situations logically and without extreme excitement.

I also need to show the men I work for a level of respect that goes beyond politeness. A Bible study I've done recently called Love & Respect taught me alot about giving my husband the respect he desperately needs. While my boss is certainly not in the same category as my husband, the principles can translate quite simply. I show respect for his position by presenting ideas for his input and value his ideas rather than coming with an agenda for him to approve. I respect the wide expanse of his job by recognizing that there may be bigger issues he's dealing with than my crisis of curriculum (which, in reality, could easily be solved at a later date). And I respect his time by coming to meetings well prepared and researched, and able to keep it short if need be by prioritizing my points.

And finally, if I want my voice to be heard by our staff and leadership, I need to have a voice people will want to listen to. If every situation is a high-drama case, I'll just become the girl who cried wolf (or lack of volunteers, or lack of facility space, or lack of recognition, or... you get the picture). I guard my complaints and stress level so when I do say, "I have a problem" or "I'm stressed," the attention I desire will be given. I also need to sound educated and researched, so that when I present an idea, a level of credibility will accompany it.

Granted, I know I'm not the perfect employee, and while it's easy to make a list of qualities and practices to make my job a lot more pleasant, I recognize that I'm not the only party involved. The pastors I serve under are very supportive and are clear about showing their appreciation and support for what I do. I never want to become so accustomed to this that I forget to appreciate it.

Sony Style USA