Last week was the official end of my tenure at Windsor Park. For nearly five years, I’ve been an intern or employed within the youth department there. On Sunday, we induct 2 new fulltime youth/young adult pastors. My job is finished, there’s no more cash to support part-time specialists. I’ve been asked to stay and continue in my role as volunteer youth leader and volunteer leader of the evening community creative ministries team. It’s a very strange time for me.
I had thought that I was going to finish at the end of June, and found out that wasn’t the case about 2 weeks before the day rolled around. Then it came and went without a phonecall, or an email. The kinds of things that would usually bring about scorn and criticism, frustration and disappointment in a forum like this. I’m just saying what happened to be honest about it, because it also gives us an opportunity to choose the response to have. Even those with the best of intentions and most genuine concerns, have a remarkable ability to screw up HR work. And I do mean HR, not PR..
Last night I was at the office until about 10.30pm or so, with my friend Rochelle, packing up, throwing out and redistributing the chaos of five years worth of ministry. Many of the photocopied lesson notes, bible study plans, creative ministy ideas and sessions have been collected, refined and definitive of my ‘ministry’ since I started with intermediates 11 years ago.
As I drove down my driveway last night, I was a little teary and a lot heavy-hearted. It just seems wrong that all that information, all those ideas of others and myself, all that time and effort is going to be stored in my head, my heart and my house, instead of at a church somewhere. Because there is a difference between being a volunteer and being a staff person, whether people realise you’re a staff person or not.
It must almost have something to do with how much we allow ourselves to invest in the work around us. That being a staff person gives you permission to care that much in a culture that does their bit, and then gets on with life.
I read Nouwen as I went to bed, with tears and sadness and uncertainty about what church will look like now, under these new hands, that need time to shape and stir and taste the community pot of Windsor Park…
“You have not yet fully found your place in your community. Your way of being present to your community may require times of absence, prayer, writing, or solitude. These too are times for your community. They allow you to be deeply present to your people and speak words that come from God in you. When it is part of your vocation to offer your people a vision that will nurture them and allow them to keep moving forward, it is crucial that you give yourself the time and space to let that vision mature in you and become an integral part of your being.
Your community needs you. but maybe not as a constant presence. Your community might need you as a presence that offers courage .and spiritual food for the journey, a presence that creates the safe ground in which others can grow and develop, a presence that belongs to the matrix of the community. But your community also needs your creative absence.”
“Your future depends on how you decide to remember your past. Choose for the truth of what you know. Do not let your still anxious emotions distract you. As you keep choosing God, your emotions wi1l gradually give up their rebellion and be converted to the truth in you.”
The Inner Voice of Love – Henri Nouwen