Top 10 “Working Properly” Tips for Commissioners and Presbyters
What will you make better? I just think things should work properly.
“So let’s not allow ourselves to get fatigued doing good. At the right time we will harvest a good crop if we don’t give up, or quit” (Galatians 6:9).
I really enjoy inventor stories. Inventors are people who are crazy enough to imagine that something can work even better. An inventor sees something that could work more effectively. The vision is to clearly focus on what could be. As the vision takes shape, the inventor fails miserably a million times trying to bring about change that works. The solo inventor's passion and vision can catch on. A team of inventors collaborate. The cycle of trial and testing, measuring and assessing, continues. Learning occurs. Its really hard work to invent something of value. Then, the progressive spirit of inventing finally yields results, often with surprising aspects that cascade into new challenges. An adaptive process emerges from a collaboration driven by the spirit of inventing. Hope, passion, mutual respect, and competency are the inventor 's mantra.
Take vacuum cleaner man James Dyson, for example. Recall the Dyson ad? At the end you hear the voiceover by Dyson himself, “I just think things should work properly.” That’s just awesome to me. “I just think things should work properly.” Dyson epitomizes hope, passion, respect, and competency. He is a true inventor. His company exudes that inventor's spirit in its culture, employment practices, and environmental responsibility. (Take a look at the Dyson story for some needed inspiration. Here’s a link to a summary: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dyson_(company))
“Working properly” is a great objective that applies to more than just vacuum cleaners. Most of us know when things work properly. When things are working properly, expected outcomes are realized. When they’re not, we are not satisfied.
The church we grew up with is severely stressed, and has been for decades. A lot of people we care about have experienced pain because the things that we thought would work, don’t. Every day, I speak with ministers and elders who give, and have so much more to give, but have been wearied, distracted, blamed, bullied, or frightened enough to hold it back. They have difficulties managing the stress of ministry. They try to add needed competencies and skills. And they are severely challenged in trying to fund church infrastructure that, even in the best of year’s, is nearly impossible to sustain. These dear colleagues have become victims, or have victimized themselves, desperately looking for that joyfulness they once knew in serving and participating in church. Sadly, ministries suffer and the promise of Christ’s redemptive love having an impact on the world often falls short of its potential.
“Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, they are a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come!” (2Corinthians 5.17). Though sometimes painful to hear and difficult to act on, the old has gone and we need to let it go. The new is coming. It’s time to find a way to move forward.
There is good news. We have a choice. We can choose to stop settling for what’s good enough, or whatever seems to get us though another week, or through to retirement. We must realize that there is a great deal a stake, and we can choose a different future. If not for us, then for our children, and for the communities we live in.
We often say our ministry is about God’s reconciling work in the world, and we’re right! Since it is God’s world, and it is God who sends the church out to bless it, I think we can leave all that with God. What we can do is turn investing in the old into inventing what’s next. Turn what doesn't work so well anymore into ways of being the church that works in more authentic, vital, and effective ways.
We can choose to move forward beyond our well-worn maps. There is no map for what’s coming. We move where the Spirit empowers us to go! Let’s stop asking what’s in it for us and start giving gifts that change people. We can choose to be those gifts that help others grow. Only then will we realize our true God-potential.
Thank you for being a key part of Newark Presbytery. Each of us possess that inventor’s spirit. It just needs some cultivating and practice. Christ “in you” is the hope of glory. You have an incredible contribution to make. Its about hope, passion, mutual respect, and competency becoming more internalized within ourselves and within our culture as a church. Nothing will promote the forward movement of your church, or the forward movement of the entire presbytery, more than hope, passion, mutual respect, and competency. The whole church will be blessed. Our 800,000 neighbors will be blessed, too. You will be blessed. We can choose to change and grow as Presbyterians…as human beings, to love the world in even greater ways in Jesus’ name.
The Apostle Paul urges us to keep focusing on what works. Be attentive to what’s working properly within the presbytery. As you look to the 219th General Assembly, pray with and for the commissioners. Contemplate how you, like an inventor, will contribute value to our denomination’s health and effectiveness through your own lifestyle and ministry.
Your time and attention, along with your unique contributions, are core gifts. Thank you for sharing them so generously.
It is also important for us to practice ongoing self-compassion and self-forgiveness. While aiming for our best, working properly means we must recognize our limitations personally and professionally. We can let go of what cannot change and instead, focus on what we can make better. We can rejuvenate our sense of life and hope with simple practices including spiritual disciplines, enjoyable social activities, moments of exercise, healthy eating habits, journaling, and restful sleep, which all contribute to our working properly on the inside.
I offer you my Top 10 “Working Properly” Tips for Commissioners and Presbyters. I recently shared them with our 219th General Assembly commissioners, General Assembly staff, presbytery leaders, and I hope you find them useful. I look forward to your comments.
Trust. God loves you and the whole world.
Be mindful of your physical, emotional, and spiritual path.
Maintain intentional rhythms of active engagement and disengagement.
Keep your spiritual nourishment and support system fresh.
Clarify your personal boundaries. What works for you? Know what doesn't.
Invent something. Reinvent yourself. Be open to God's preferred future.
Make meaningful promises and keep them.
Deliver more than expected and be proud of it.
Remember, we are all connected. Treat others with respect.
Enjoy life in hopefulness.
(Note: When in doubt, see #1)
We do not gather to make a better vacuum cleaner; we gather to glorify God and make a better world for everyone. I just think things should work properly. How about you? What will you choose to make better?