In early 2009 I began visiting a counselor on a regular basis. I was working a lot…I was usually stressed, and realized I wasn’t excited about the direction things were moving in my life. Working at Vineyard went from being something I loved, to something I was not enjoying all that much.
When I first began visiting the counselor, I was figuring, a couple months, fix my problems & get back to work. What I learned pretty quickly into the process, was how helpful it was to have someone to talk through issues and ideas involving, family, church, whatever. Two plus years later, I’m still going, although more often now he ends up being more coach than counselor.
As I began talking to him about the idea of planting a church in Dublin, one of the first things he suggested I do was come up with a list of things from planting this church, that I would do differently if I could start over.
James and I have been kicking that question around for a bit, and I thought I’d list a few of them over the next couple of weeks.
I thought I’d start off with the big one…
If I could start over…”I would not work like a crazy person.”
Now, I would still work hard. I grew up in a family that had a very strong work ethic, and I married someone who works just as hard as I do. But that isn’t what I’m talking about.
When we started the Ithaca Vineyard, James & I did all of the administrative stuff for Sunday during the week. Since we didn’t have money for bagels & doughnuts, Liz baked for everyone nearly every Sunday. (& I’m sure you’ve heard the story that we actually held our first ever service when Brenna was 3 days old…I still have no idea what we were thinking).
We met on the 3rd floor, and every week James & I would unload the van, and set up the room for Sunday. I ran sound during worship, he ran sound while I spoke. Liz was either working with the kids in Sunday school, or on the worship team.
After service, James and I would clean & pack up, load up the van, drive to my house unload the van, and then I’d collapse on the couch exhausted, knowing that the process was starting over again in a day or so.
Now, there were other people who helped, but the 3 of us, did way too much. And occasionally, another crazy person would come along who was willing to work like that, and we’d invite them in. The smart thing at that point would have been to figure out how we could divide the work that the three of us were doing among 4…then 5, etc. And once things got to a reasonable level, and more people were joining, in, begin adding more to what we did as a church.
That would have been the smart thing. But instead, each new person allowed us to stretch the rubber band a little bit more…”now we can do this!”
We were able to keep that up for a number of years. In fact at one point I think we had 5-6 people who were leading at least 2 ministry teams & for some, a kinship group on top of that. (I’m feeling out of breath just remembering all of this…)
Over the past couple years, we’ve focused much more on sabbath, on rest, on being emotionally & spiritually healthy. For some, it has been a difficult transition. If I’m working like crazy, and accomplishing things for God, then I don’t need to actually stop and address some of the “stuff” in my life. I know for me, I still have to struggle against the tendency to fall back into those patterns of working way too much…”Don’t worry God, I can take care of this!”
So I’m glad we’ve begun making these changes over the past couple years, but if I could start over, we would have focused a lot more on helping people become emotionally healthy from the start.