Someone commented to me that they thought our senior staff retreat was for fun, games and bonding - a vacation. We had a little of that later in the week when our families joined us, but for four days, it was work - intense, challenging work. One of my coworkers described it best - it was like a three-day staff meeting.
We had some intense discussions, including some conflict (which, though sometimes painful and difficult, always gets us to a good place). We looked at where we've been - including how we've done personally - and evaluated past decisions and efforts. We talked about what was most important to us. We looked at statistics and demographics. We analyzed pop culture and its impact on us in our own curious mix of rural/suburban life.
Our pre-retreat work included reading two books: Patrick Lencioni's Silos, Politics and Turf Wars and Tim Stevens' Pop Goes the Church. We had questions and assignments based on those books, and it was interesting to see everyone's responses. Both generated some great discussions and valuable feedback.
There were times when we got fed up with one another, moments in discussions where some had to be coaxed to share what they were really thinking. It's not necessarily easy, all the time, to live with people that you work with.
But I ended the week feeling a great deal of clarity about my job, my life, and my role in our church. There is a huge amount of work ahead, and we need to carefully consider the weight of responsibility God has placed upon us as He has built this church. At times, it feels very overwhelming.
But truthfully? I can't imagine doing anything else with my life right now. I think about the things we sacrifice when we invest our lives in vocational ministry; things like time, money and privacy. Buoyed by my experience with my friends and co-workers - and my personal time with God and my family, I'm feeling nothing but gratitude. I am blessed, granted such an amazing privilege, walking in such grace - and every single bit of it undeserved.
I love my job, love my coworkers and friends, love the extended family that is all of PCC. I am stunned, every day, that God coaxed me into this role with such tender love and grace. He saw something worthy and redeemable in my mess of a life, and He opened His arms to invite me into His work here.
I stand amazed.
I pray I might hold it loosely, because I do not deserve to be here.
Oh, yeah - maybe the best part was having a baby there all week. Two of my colleagues - both pastors - had their first child a few months ago. It was the icing on the cake, the recipient of much adoration and affection.