Thursday, February 02, 2006

Juggling Balls and Spinning Plates

I had a great phone call today. I have started coaching a high potential second chair leader who is juggling too many balls and spinning too many plates. He is in an environment of expansive growth and his time is in high demand. The problem. . . . . . way too many balls and plates. Such that in a recent staff retreat, the bouncing balls and crashing plates became the focus of the "problems" in the organization. Don't you know he loved going home that night to his wife and expressing to her his frustration.

What happened? The organization grew! He was and is the go to guy so they went to him. Now he is overwhelmed and nearing burn out.

Try another anology-- traffic!

Have you ever been in a traffic jam when you rolled along at 5 miles per hour for twenty minutes? Have you ever thought, "Wow! There must be a bad wreck up there? What could be causing such a back up? I can't wait to see the mangled metal of this one!" To your surprise and disappointment, there was no such wreck. No, the construction crew chose not to post signs about road work and just started narrowing everyone to one lane. Going from three lanes to one in a moments notice isn't all that fun now is it? People get angry, frustrated, and can even get hurt.

This is what can happen if the second chair leader has to have his or her signature on everything. In this type of ministry traffic jam, leaders push initiatives up the line and wait for decisions and approvals. In their waiting, they get tired, angry, even frustrated. The second chair leader feels overwhelmed, under appreciated, and doesn't know how to clear away the bottle neck and traffic jam that is outside of his or her office door.

Sometimes this traffic jam is created by a staff member who isn't pulling their own weight. Other times, it happens because the second chair isn't comfortable giving power away.

My take: Life is too short to have to approve everything. I want to do only that which I can do and empower and inspect that which I am able to delegate and give away. To do this, I have got to be willing to deal with conflict, communicate effectively, and enlist and train other capable people. This too takes time but it will be very rewarding to both the organization and to the people the organization serves. Look for, enlist, train, and use your people. They are your greatest resource!

What do you do to keep the traffic from stacking up too much outside your office door?

25 comments:

Clayton Bell said...

Cry?

Hide?

Run Away?

Well, I've tried all three and none of them seem to work. So I've had to take a realistic look at the things that I'm responsible for, the things that I’m hoarding control over, and let things go to other people, even if they don’t want the responsibility!

I find that I’m coming to my breaking point, or boiling point, with my current responsibilities. I know that there are only so many hours in a day, but they’re the same amount that everyone else has, so I’ve got to honor God with the first fruits of my day, schedule my priorities not priorities my schedule, not be consumed with the tyranny of the urgent, and all the other clich├ęs that are appropriate for time management. So what actually works?

Well, there’s just no substitution for delegation and/or releasing things to other people. Olan Hendrix, one of founders of the ECFA and current church consultant to our movement, told our top tier leaders “Isn’t always funny that wherever bottlenecks occur, they always occur at the top?” One of our founders responded with a smile: “OK Olan, we get it: we’re the problem!” I’ve found that while that may have been true for our movement, it’s also true on a smaller scale in out local church.

We’ve recently had everyone put on paper what they do at the church, sort of creating job descriptions based on the person as well as the position. Well, like all second chair leaders, I was doing more than I realized, and I had to ask…am I the traffic jam? Well, in some areas I am! In my second-chair tendency, and being a perfectionist, I’m willing to take on tasks because I want them done, and done well, but I end up with so many tasks that I either do them poorly or begin to burn myself out. That leads to me being frustrated, less time with my wife, and stops others from taking responsibility for tasks they should be learning to execute.

As second chair leaders, I believe it’s our job to be a traffic cop, not the police escort. We need to help others, allowing them to get to where they need to be without unnecessary impediment and proper direction. Sometimes, when a task is actually ours to do, it’s OK to be a little more hands on, but I know I’ve got to do a better job of helping people get where they need to be, not carrying them there. I think sometimes we’d like to go back of the days of being only one area, but now that we’re in this God-given position, we’ve got to working harder than anyone because of the spirit of God, and build as wise master builders.

Clayton Bell said...

Hello? Is this thing on? Where did everyone go?

DivaD said...

Clayton,

Have been getting ready for this weekend's service. It's now after midnight in Virginia and we've got to get started prepping the local high school at 7am for service...

Will respond tomorrow (or later today) after the crunch is over... Have a great book to recommend about juggling a lot of stuff - but it's at home and I can't remember the exact title :o)

Ah - the joys of 2nd chair!!

Jay said...

Clayton...I can totally relate to all the responses you listed in response to Roger's post on "Juggling Balls and Spinning Plates". Crying, Hiding, Running Away...if I haven't done them, I've sure tought about it.

When I entered my position as a Second Chair, I quickly realized that in Ministry there is one interuption after the other and somedays no matter how much control you want to have over your schedule, you'll never have complete control over it.

My job description is a hodge podge of responsibilities that are completely necessary to run the church, but don't fit under youth, children, or music...so I get the rest, so it does feel like, I'm constantly juggling balls and spinning plates. My job as the 2nd Chair must be figuring out a way to my best, give my best, and produce my best and trust that the things I'm not able to accomplish, God is going to give me a way and a solution.

DivaD said...

Currently, I find that the reason that I'm juggling way too many things is because I have recently taken a job that has 7 years of unrealized desires from my 1st chair regarding systems, structure, evaluation, accountability, measuring, policies, and more. Having a reputation for getting things done, it seems that the expectation of some is that all will immediately 'be taken care of' or 'fall into place'.

And, amazingly enough, others... staff members... who know that so many things have been left unsaid and undone since the 'conception' of the church, suddenly want to have all of the say so in how it's done, etc. I have 2 full notes - on an easel, mind you - of 'gaps' that have to be bridges, repaired, *insert proper term here*. I have prioritized them based on immediate needs to help strengthen the foundation of the church, most critical needs identified by my 1st chair and 'management team', etc. And yet, it seems that suddenly staff is clamoring to identify where things aren't going just right (that have been evident and 1st chair has asked for help with for years), wanting immediate changes/results (all the while making sure that THEY have the right to scrutinize, evaluate, and put a stop to anything that they don't personally agree with... or maybe didn't think of), and telling him (1st chair) what's not getting done in their opinion.

Sheesh. What an exhausting adventure!

Add to that the fact that there has been non-stop conflict in 2 areas of ministry since their inception (I'm supposed to be helping develop accountability systems and bridging the gaps here), we currently have a leader who is serving outside her area of giftedness and passion - as an interim, and I am the Programming and Arts Director in a church that believes very strongly in utilizing the arts in any/every possible way, and the juggling act gets pretty ugly at times :o).

Other than the immediate - and I must say unrealistic - expectation that I am going to change/fix all of these things overnight, most of the issues that I have run into with regards to juggling have come from someone else not pulling their weight. There is definitely a unique tension there when that occurs because, as a 2nd chair leader, we believe in the vision and want so strongly to see it come to pass. And, with a drive towards leadership, we can tend to do whatever to 'make it happen' because we know that it is possible. We also recognize the potential for hurt when someone else drops the ball and leaves an individual, a team, a project/task, or a ministry hanging by a thread. So - speaking personally - the tendency has sometimes been to 'pick up the ball' that someone else has dropped in order to protect people, or the vision.

Unfortunately, although it may be an immediate quick fix to a situation, in the long haul it doesn't protect the people or the vision... it can end up doing the opposite. The dependency for more things to happen, or for more people to be affirmed/valued/connected, then begins to rest on our shoulders and each one of us can only carry so much without collapsing under the weight.

In these cases, it's time for some serious conversation to be had. Taking up someone else's slack doesn't help the ministry, the people, or that individual. It sets them up for failure. It allows them to continue either in a place that is outside of their giftedness, or it allows them to continue with attitudes/habits that are not healthy and doesn't expect change or growth from them. Yes we're to bear one another's burdens. However, we're also to spur one another on to growth. Covering someone else's can isn't 'covering a multitude of sins'... it's ultimately enabling dysfunction one way or the other and it will come back to bite!! (Been THERE!!)

Ultimately, if we are going to be the best 2nd chair leader, and do things with excellence, then we've got to know - and identify to others (especially our 1st chair) - our limitations and boundaries. If we don't stick to those, we'll end up hurting the church/organization more than helping.

A word of encouragment to all of us 2nd chair leaders (my Pastor says this to me often)... "God doesn't give a big assignment to a small character". And from 1st Timothy... "I thank God that He has counted me faithful, putting me into the ministry".

Amen and Selah to that!

Marie said...

I am learning a lot! In my situation I wish I could be handed a few more balls to juggle and plates to spin but I am limited by my first chair's control. I know...this can't be rushed, nor should it be. I realize there are huge trust issues to be dealt with and it takes time to prove oneself. But...we have dealt with a lot of that. In the situation where I find myself, it seems I am being limited by someone elses issues of anger and envy and resentment. This is difficult to deal with. So, while I spin my plate, I see others dropping around me but I am unable to reach out and catch them. And it often feels that someone else wants to "bump" into me and cause my plate to wobble just to see me fail.

But when I get frustrated with what I see as a lack of use of my abilities...I have to remember that maybe what I see as skills or talents or gifts and the things that I think I should be doing are not really the reason God brought me here anyway. Maybe He has completely different plans for me and I just have to try and listen and be patient and move closer to Him so that I will hear Him and be ready to move in whatever direction He chooses for me.

My first chair sent me a reading from Oswald Chambers a few days ago...find it here -

http://www.rbc.org/utmost/index.php?month=02&day=05

and it says some very powerful things about ministry and being willing to be "poured out as a drink offering". I think if you read the devotionals for Feb 5th and 6th it really speaks to the second chair position. I pray I can be better at this!
Marie

DivaD said...

In a previous post, Jay mentioned that with all the things that fall on his plate he seems to get more criticism than encouragement and asked if anyone else has this.

Jay - just yesterday as a matter of fact, I was listening to some criticism that was coming (of course) through a 3rd party and it was harsh and uncalled for, and to be honest, very hurtful. As I was listening to this, the theme song to "the Neverending Story" was playing over and over in my mind (I have 3 children who have all loved that movie). Unfortunately, the way that I'm wired, it struck me as funny... that NEVER goes over well :o).

So to echo Jay's question posed in his previous post (Sharing Your Leader's Burden), has anyone discovered how to resolve this? I ask because the loneliness that was discussed before, and Jay's question, seem to be the standard (unfortunately). Just yesterday we had the staff meeting from the bad place. Ever had one of those? I sat in awe as another staff member explained, and I quote, "This is not about you personally" but then proceeded to use my name, in conjunction with my pastor's, approximately 10 or 12 times in explaining the 'issue' that she had 'issue' with. The pastor had asked that each ministry leader turn in goals for the year (never been done before except for 1 area of ministry that happened to fall under me for the last 4 years). He had asked me to teach on goal-setting during leadership training (which I did), and then to help develop a system for others to be able to identify what are actual goals versus priorities, strategies, happy thoughts, etc. :o) Her issue was with the fact that he asked me to develop a system for others to use to develop goals. She said, and again I quote, "I don't need YOU (meaning me) to tell me how to write goals".

It was quite amazing to say the least. 'Mature' individuals in a church staff meeting acting like... well, you can form your own opinion about that.

These are the kinds of things that I have CONSISTENTLY run into in just the past month of trying to do this job. No exaggeration... Every system that I am asked to develop (for goal setting - measuring for health - evaluating - leadership training) gets this same type of response... "I don't need YOU telling me how to do anything". And the killer is - it's not about telling anyone how to do anything. It's about enabling others to do what they're being asked to do - by the pastor - in order to lay a foundation for growth. And HE is the one asking that it be done.

Honestly guys, if I'm 100% honest about where I'm at right now, I'm done. I don't see any hope for change, or growth, or unity because of these types of thought patterns. Not only does everything fall under scrutiny, but nothing is ever right or good enough. Now, mind you, that's not according to my first chair. He's thrilled that some of these foundational things are finally being done. But others aren't. And it doesn't matter how much, or how often, or how well it's communicated up front - or how many times it's discussed in staff meeting - once it's in place, (in yesterday's case it wasn't even in place... it was in the works) then these are the kinds of comments that come back.

I know all of the scriptures about standing... trusting God... not losing heart. And I have been firmly committed to doing what I felt God led our family here to do - be Aaron and Hur and support the pastor.
Yes, I've talked with my first chair... and with the 2 staff members... and the elders have even been involved in meetings to try and bring some balance. All, quite frankly, to no avail. Still nothing is good enough. And there's no-one that I can talk to because family goes to this church (and already have negative perceptions of church because of the abusive church - extremely abusive - that we came from before), the counselors that I do know and trust either go to this church or are affiliated with another church and I don't want to color their opinion of our church, and all the other close relationships that I have are either IN the church, or with people that I don't want to give a realistic picture of what it can be like.

At this point - I feel the situation or possibility for change is utterly hopeless. Yet, if I quit, it will do great damage to the church because I am the point leader for the entire Arts and Programming Ministry, as well as have been in charge of developing/strengthening teams for hospitality, church-wide events, missions, prayer, and tapes/resources, as part of the Administrative Director job description (which, as I've mentioned before I was doing prior to January 1 but just received the 'title' and the 'public authority' on January 1). I'm completely and totally bound up by this situation.

I don't see hope for change - yet don't want to abandon those teams that have become God-things. Am not willing to give my life to something that, it seems, doesn't have the potential to really reach more lost people and grow because of petty, personal staff issues. And I know this may not sound like "second chair leader" talk, but I'm beyond exhaused. These personal issues I've had to deal with for the past 4 years in the previous position (Arts and Programming Director) as well. It's old. It's boring. It's damaging. It's immature. It's stifling any God-things that could happen.

So - where do you draw the line with regards to saying "I can't do this anymore"? When staff members are obviously against you - as a person - when can you leave? When can you say "God, I want my life to bear FRUIT... to REACH people. Not be spent dealing with constant conflict and criticism from 'peers' that are supposed to want the same thing." When can you just give up and do something else?

Jay said...

Divad...

I've totally been where you at. Even recently. You have to know that you are doing the best job that you can. Can I ask you some questions? When you've talked to your first chair about these issues what has his/her response been? Have you been placed into a leadership position with oversite of staff without clear communication from your first chair to the staff? Were you placed in that position and "expected" to immediately have the respect of the staff?

One thing that has been frustrating to me at times has been communication. Each staff member/leader probably needs to be communicated in a different way. My struggle has been figuring out the different ways to communicate. Now, with that said, I don't think others try to figure how to communicated with you, but I'm finding as I begin to communicate better with other staff members those things that caused tension are being reduced.

You will be in my prayers...I know what you are going through. Keep your chin up. God has placed you there for a reason and has gifted you to serve in this capacity. Know one ever said it would be easy...in fact its hard. When I have moments like that in my ministry, it causes me to really depend on God. It usually when I'm not spending the time I need in prayer and devotions that these stressful times happen.

My pastor always says that satan is smart because in a lot of cases he'll use other christians to cause disunity or problems in the church. It sounds like there are some issues that need to be dealt with that address disunity within the staff. Its ok to feel like quiting...I'm sure we all have and all will. I'm sure my first chair feels that way sometime. You have to know that God has placed you there and will equip to you accomplish your mission from the second chair.

Tomorrow's another day and his mercies are new every morning!

DivaD said...

Jay,
Sure you can ask questions :O). First chair sees these things, and his response has always been one of agony, to be quite frank. Because he sees the issues - and yet his wife serves on staff and is the one who says "I don't need YOU to tell ME how to do anything". It's one heckuva tough situation! They came from a very traditional church background, and moved here to plant a seeker sensitive church designed to reach the lost and grow. It's a real struggle for her to let go of control of anything - especially with regards to doing something different or new from the way it 'used to be done' when they were youth pastors in another state.

With my 'position' it's not even one of being "over" any other staff members... and that was not only communicated up front by my boss and myself, but is one to assist in providing structural administration where there has been absolutely none in the past. Things have been done in a very non-organized, fly-by-the-seat-of-the-pants, deal with issues as they arise vs. planning for or avoiding issues by planning well, manner. The staff and elders are the ones who agreed that this position was critical, and that I should have it.
As for the respect of the staff... we used to be friends. Used to enjoy hanging out together outside of ministry. Used to laugh together. Even vacationed together. Until... the ever looming issue of now I have a different title. One staff member has always had jealousy issues - that she would be quite frank about - because first chair and I became fast friends after our 2nd week at the church (and yes, our spouses were involved and we ALL developed friendships almost immediately - as families). She is the one who had this position prior to me taking it - and she handed it over saying that I work much better with first chair than she does and I can get much more done than she can because of the differences in gift mixes. I didn't ask for it. First chair asked for me to have it.

I'm working on how to communicate differently with each of them. Although it is frustrating, because that didn't used to be a problem because of the friendships, now it seems that everything said or written has to be so guarded. I guess when you get down to it that's the bottom line issue... because I have this title the friendships have gone out the window. THAT's where the loneliness comes in.

I can't stand for someone to feel sorry for themselves. It sucks the life out of me. So I don't want to get stuck in that rut :o).

I do, however, much appreciate the encouragement and the prayers! I got in my car yesterday afternoon and "How Great is Our God" was on the radio. I cranked it and sat there simply basking in the worship that song inspires. I need to do more of that through all of this - and spend some time sucking carpet (my phrase for 'getting on my face before God in prayer'). I am very aware that that particular part of me is at the empty well point... Not a good place EVER to get. And yet, as much as I treasure my relationship with God and am so in awe of Him - I find myself running in that self-reliance squirrel cage quite often... What is UP with that? :o)

Yes, tomorrow is another day! And thank God that His mercies ARE brand new every morning! And that He is always faithful and just. And that He saw fit - way before I was even a thought in my parents' mind - to call me to ministry. I still see that as such an awesome thing (sometimes I wonder what on EARTH He was thinking), and am honored that God put His finger on my life in this way.

Jay, Marie, Clayton.... you're in my thoughts and prayers as well!

Clayton Bell said...

It's amazing what Mike and Roger have tapped into, isn't it? This whole underground subculture of leaders who aren't quite sure how to lead when they're in between the rock and the hard place...

DivaD, I'm not sure if you've read Good to Great by Jim Collins, but one of the best points in there talks about getting the right people on the bus, and then getting them into the right seats. The author of BREAKOUT CHURCHES says the same thing, but that with churches it's important to line up with the philosophy of the church as well as the other people working there.

It sounds like you've got a great relationship with the first chair in terms of freindship, but that he's not providing what you need as an employer. This alludes to what I was asking about earlier: What happens when your pastor is your boss and friend, but isn't good at all of them, just a few of them? Your first might be a better pastor and friend, but a bad boss. The good friend and pastor part might detract from you addressing the boss issues, even if they're killing you. Sounds like they might be.

Are you with the right people, and is there a seat on the bus for you that you want to be in? Have you talked through the possibility of leaving with your first chair? I'm not talking about threating to leave, but talking through some of the issues before it gets too bad?

I don't know what your financial situation is, and I'm not about life being as easy as possible, but you sound like it might be time to make a change before you have to make a jagged break.

DivaD said...

Clayton,
I haven't yet read Good to Great - however, I devoured Breakout Churches and keep it in front of me right now trying to determine if it's possible for us to be one of those.

Financially, it would be a disaster for me to not have a job. And although ministry experience is almost 20 years overall - my 'education' is mostly from experience and individual mentoring relationships/training. That makes it difficult when looking for another position somewhere (the degree that I do have is in social work).

I have talked through these issues and when I try to talk about whether it's time to 'get off the bus' for the good of the church, it's not a pleasant conversation. Same with the elders... They all say that it would be destructive to leave, for one reason or another.

My boss is learning how to actually be a 'boss' and, honestly, that's part of what's causing the conflict. He's leading from a different place - and growing in leadership. His time with God is bringing some clarity and confidence - as is him having a 'second chair' and some elders that will support him strongly when he makes a good decision... whether it's unpopular or not. (Now mind you - I'm not, by any stretch of the imagination, a 'yes person, but I'll get behind strong leadership decisions that are obviously God-things and are for the best of the church. And I'll support them through the storm.) He's more definite about things and is making more sound decisions - and sticking by them. It's causing great waves...

Difficult situation any way you look at it... So - I need wisdom more than anything at this point :O).

Still listening...

Marie said...

Hi Divad...

I typed a fairly long response to you earlier but it seems I must have hit a wrong button because it is not here! The long and short of it was ...don't give up..not yet. Now, when I read your response to Jay's last email, I realize that our situations are far more similiar than I ever could have guessed. Confidentiality issues make it hard for me to be more explicit here - but what do you do when the person closest to your first chair is the person who is the hardest on your ministry? I have no answer for this at this point. But I do know that last weekend I was ready to walk away from my ministry, my church, everything that I have worked SO hard for, because of the pain caused by criticism directed at me in such a personal, direct and pointed way.

But, something...some One, keeps me from leaving. I cannot explain it myself.

Maybe your "season" is over where you are at...but what I have had to consider is that maybe God has plans for me in this place where I am that have nothing to do with what I think I am here for...and maybe its the same for you. There is a quote in the second chair book...page 154, talking about when it is time to leave..."when it is right for you, it is right for everyone. If the Lord is in it and He leads you away, then it will be right for everybody." It doesn't say it will be easy for everyone, or that it won't hurt, it just says that God will handle it. Please be as patient as you possibly can be about such major decisions. Ask God..where does he want you? And don't make a move until you believe you are really moving in the direction He has planned for you. Now, realize I am typing some of this to me!!! I need to listen to myself as well.

And your point about not having enough time to just worship, to just dwell, just linger, just feel the presence of God - how empty we get without that! And last weekend as I struggled...I found myself almost running from the bible - instead of running to it! And that time with God alone, that precious presence that keeps us all moving in the right direction is SO important just at the times when we are most apt to avoid it. I thank God so much that He is SO much more faithful than I could ever be.

So - I will be praying for you. No situation is ever hopeless with God involved in it. Things can change! I have to believe that or I would hit the door running. But...maybe God's idea of hopeless it totally different from our own. If God put you where you are...and God is not opening another door and smoothing a path for you...maybe His plan for bringing hope involves YOU.

I'm pretty tired so I hope all this makes sense. Thank you SO much Mike & Roger. We need this group and this place to vent. Just knowing that there are others out there who feel the same frustrations, the same loneliness, the same deep pull towards something greater makes a huge difference.

Good night everyone!
Marie

DivaD said...

Yes... most definitely Thank You to Mike and Roger!!

Clayton Bell said...

DivaD, I don't know if this is a prompting by the Holy Spirit or just a crazy idea, but here goes:

Take it out of the business realm. Right now.

Take it to the spiritual realm. When you're in these meetings, or in a side conversation where you're about to burst from the criticism or attack, ask them if you all can pray about the issue. Cry out to God, TOGETHER, for the wisdom and grace to solve the situation. Of course, this is conditional to gender issues, as I would never encourage people of the opposite sex to pray together in a private setting. But, if you can, grab a third party and pray right then. We don't wrestle with flesh and blood, so go after the spiritual forces manipulating both your emotions and theirs. If they resist prayer, after persistant attempts, well...you work for a church attempting to expand the kingdom of God, so prayer is a perfectly normal thing to do in the course of the day. PRAY, pray often, pray until something breaks in the spirit. Hopefully, that's from God, and it helps.

DivaD said...

Hey - Now THERE'S something we definitely don't do near enough of... pray together.

And I haven't been bold as I used to be about doing just that... First chair said in yesterday's meeting that "when you pray for someone you're much less likely to criticize them or harbor ill will toward them". Wouldn't that just stump the attack of the enemy!?

Thanks for the reminder, Clayton!

Roger Patterson said...

WOW!!!! You guys blow me away. This is so humbling to read the depth of your struggles, and I can only give our king the glory that He is due!

Thanks for thanking us, but God is the one with the amazing plan. We just sit back and are humbled again and again with what the Lord is doing. Thanks for leading the way in transparency around these issues. I will be praying for each of you and let me add a little to the conversation.

Go back to the definition of contentment in the second chair: the choice to stay and grow for a season no matter the circumstances. We intentionally put chapter 8 before chapter 10. Our counsel, stay and grow until you know you absolutely have to go.

I began this year with, "Lord, grow me into the man you want me to be." I have since questioned my prayer, as this season has been intense. But if God is going to have His way in me, He is going to have to put me through a refining fire. This fire deals with sin, with pride, with tough situations in the church, with the enemie's attack, etc. You name it. I have learned over and over these last six weeks how uncomfortable the second chair is.

So, Divad, my prayer for you is resolve to stay and grow, no matter the circumstances, for this season.

You will know when it is time to go. God will bring that about in His sovereignty. I think the passion that you have for your church, your ministry, and for your first chair are indicative of your heart to stay and thrive in the second chair. The insecure leader in your midst must be dealt with, but your first chair must do it. As a leader, you are going to get shot at. Go to work with your flack jacket on. Go to your knees as Clayton has advised and ask God to knit your hearts.

I know that you are emotionally spent. Take a day or two off, a week or two if need be. But let this season prepare and refine you. Love your neighbor as yourself. Let your soft answers turn away wrath. Give your enemy something to eat or drink when they are hungry or thirsty. This action will be like pouring hot coals on their head. Love them and recognize the battle in the heavenly realm. Put on your armor and stand firm so that when the arrows come, you can stand. Be strong in the Lord and in His mighty power. Let your light so shine before men (and women) that they may see your good deeds and glorify your father who is in Heaven. May the God of Hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in Him that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.

Sorry to preach, but that is what I do. You are loved by your great and mighty God and by your fellow second chair leaders. We trust that you are going to be filled and renewed and trust that God is working all things together for your good because you love Him and are called according to His purposes. Remember, neither height nor depth, angels nor demons, ... anything in all creation -- nothing can seperate you from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus. He is your rock, your refuge, your fortress. Run to him as a strong tower. May he surround you with favor as with a sheild and may you ever sing for joy. For surely the Lord blesses the righteous.

Finally, do not be discouraged in doing good for at the right time you will reap a blessing if you do not give up.

Lead, follow, serve and bless!

Roger P

DivaD said...

Thank you, Roger.

Don't apologize for preaching. I didn't take it that way at all. I do love what I do... love and believe in the vision for our church... and fiercely love the people that I work with, especially my first chair and the small group that I lead (worship band).

I'm planning to take a couple of days off and remove myself from the fray for sanity and spiritual health. Times like these I identify most strongly with Jeremiah who was not really happy with God and felt that God had tricked him into this difficult ministry and He wanted to 'speak no more' about Him. Yet, he said "Your word is like fire shut up in my bones and I cannot hold it back".

When the smoke clears, that's inevitably how it is. When you're so firmly convinced that God has called you, you get to the place where nothing will force you out of His calling - His place - His leading... That's where I tend to eventually land during a 'war'. This time, the encouragement from each of you has strengthened that resolve and brought me to that place more quickly. Thank you for reminding me that none of us go through any of these interesting, unique, 2nd chair struggles alone!

But enough about me... How can I pray for you guys?

Roger Patterson said...

We have a lot that you can pray for. I have had a hard couple of days, as my leadership got challenged pretty good. It has been a time of examination and reflection. I am praying that God would confirm what He needs to confirm and bring clarity where there is confusion. We are leading our church through a call to prayer and repentance. We are in need of strength, as there aren't enough hours in the day. We are preparing for a few 2nd chair seminars (the reason I am still awake at 12:20 on a Wednesday night)in the next month, and we really want those to be excellent. So, pray against the enemie's attack, for energy to complete the tasks with excellence, for wisdom to know and discern God's leading in the church and then for clarity for me during a brief time of confusion.

Also, I have a paper at the doctoral committee of my school that I am waiting to hear about. Pray for favor as it is read, reviewed, and discussed.

Thanks for showing us love!
Roger P

DivaD said...

Wow! Praying for God's supernatural strength and anointing to sustain you, His wisdom to guide you, and His favor to surround you. Also, that His presence and heart will permeate your church as you lead through prayer and repentance... That His power will carry you through this strenuous time... and that He will provide Aaron and Hur to assist YOU and hold YOUR arms up!

DivaD said...

BTW - The name of that book that I was going to recommend about 'juggling' is entitled "More Balls than Hands" by Michael Gelb.

And for those who haven't read it (has absolutely NOTHING to do with juggling - but everything to do with being radically free in your relationship with God), "Barbarian Way" by Erwin McManus is absolutely phenomenal!

It's 1:47am here on the East Coast... 'Nite all!

Marie said...

Oh Roger...you speak so well and so much to all of us! I am going to "cut and paste" some of your words and put them into my journal today. Please "preach" away! And Clayton your idea of going to prayer immediately with the people you are with when the battles begin is wonderful. Thanks all. And I second the vote for "The Barbarian Way" - great book, although I love anything written by Erwin McManus.

Got to run...want to try and videotape a sunrise this morning to use in worship!
Marie

Clayton Bell said...

21 comments?

We need a message board, not a comment blog!

Roger, you're not doing anything right now, are you? Why not spend some more time on the secondchair web site? ;-)

Roger Patterson said...

we did a message board on our web site first. We got nothing. I think through it all, we got four or five posts to questions, etc. the first 4 months.

Mike's ability to be up on all the trendy things in North American Culture and around the world led us to establish our blog!!!!! There you have it -- the real story!

Marie said...

"I took you from the ends of the earth, from its farthest corners I called you. I said, you are my servant; I have choosen you and have not rejected you. So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strenghten you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand."
Isaiah 41:9-10

A good reassurance for the day.
Marie

Clayton Bell said...

There, 25th comment, just to get it to a quater of a hundred...