Wednesday, January 25, 2006

Listening for the Most Important Things

Have you ever had one of those days in the second chair when all you were doing was jumping from one meeting to the next and dealing with problem after problem? As a result, you might find yourself at the end of a day wondering what contribution you made that day. If this persists, you can find yourself frustrated, burned out, and wandering through a maze of emotion and confusion about how effective you are in ministry.

This can be a difficult place for those of us in the second chair. It can also be a place where we commit to going deeper to see what God might be saying to us. For me, I believe that God wants me to listen more intently for the most important things.

I don't always listen well in my meetings, as I am often thinking about the next meeting, the emails and phone calls that keep hitting my blackberry, and the struggle of balancing the demands of the second chair. In the last week, I have had to reschedule three appointments because my pastor called me into meetings that I had to be attend. This is a struggle, as I don't always get to handle my calendar proactively. Instead, I find myself reacting to get it all done and the pressure to get it all done makes it difficult to listen to what is really being said.

What is really being said is the key component of what second chair leaders in the church must discern. If we miss what is really being said, we can't advise the first chair, coach our subordinates, properly pray for the spiritual needs of those in our congregation, or see the whole picture clearly. The wide gets confused with the deep and the counsel or assitance that we should be able to give loses its potency because we haven't truly identified the issue--the deep spiritual issue.

I must confess, I haven't been hearing the eternal issues as clearly as I should becuase the noise of the temporal screams out at me for attention. So, in a meeting today (no blackberry in attendance) I jotted this thought: So bombared w/the temporal you can't see or hear the spiritual.

Guilty as charged, but thankful for the Grace of my loving Jesus and the still small voice of his Spirit.


Clayton Bell said...

There we go!

Great talking with you Roger, great post, and I'll see you in Atlanta...

Jay said...

This is such an important topic and probably the paradox that I struggle with the most as a second chair. The balance of deep and wide. I know that there is a part of me that wants to SPECIALIZE in a particular area and knock it out of the park. But, I have painfully come to the realization that for me as the Associate Pastor, I'm going to be doing a lot of different things and I can't let that get me down or frustrate me.

I'm the 2nd Chair of a church of over 1000 people. We just built a building and thinking about building again, we're in the middle of a capital campaign, I'm over our Small Group Ministry with 55 leaders under me, I'm over missions, outreach, benevolence, the office staff, Administration, building and grounds and now hosting a "Second Chair Leaders" Conference in the midwest (its not to late to make the trip bloggers!) Its hard for me to find the balance.

Roger your post of this really struck a cord with me, because I struggle with this on a daily basis. We just had a staff planning day and talked about things we need to change, do better, or make less confusing or get rid of. I felt like, what was supposed to a positive experience of team building turned into, Man you've got to step it up a notch. So much rides on your shoulders and the church depends on it. I left frustrated, rejected, and disappointed.

Because of the complexities of the 2nd chair and the details that you have to keep on top of, I usually end of spending most of time my time on the things that don't matter and the really important things get over looked. How do you find that balance? How do you create margins in the day to focus on ministries when so much of your day is consumed by what happens that day?

I'm axious for more of this discussion.

Clayton Bell said...

Jay, I totally agree with you. I think this is one of the huge areas where we have to work hard to keep a balance between the business aspect of what we do and the spiritual aspect of what we do. We can't think too secularly because of the sphere we work in, and we can't think so uber-spiritually that we don't work hard enough to get certain tasks done.

One of the scriptures that I hold on to dearly when it comes to this is 1 Corinthians 15:10- "But by the grace of God I am what I am, and his grace to me was not without effect. No, I worked harder than all of them- yet not I, but the grace of God that was with me." My pray each day is that I'll be able to work harder than anyone because of the Grace of God, not because of my natural abilities, which would make me begin to rely on myself and not Christ. If I don't cry out for the grace to work as hard as I possibly can each, praying for wisdom and understanding, I'll be just a guy working a job, and probably being overwhelmed by it.

What I've got to remember is that I'm a man of God working in a position to help bring the Kingdom of God on earth, and I've got to cry out to God to do that. When I can remeber that as my motivation, pray and cry out for the grace to work hard and honor God with my mind, I can then focus making sure I treat each situation with the respect and dedication it deserves.