A few hours ago, I sent out an email about this coming Sunday’s First Fifth Sunday Potluck at church. Then, I went ahead and tried to update some of the materials on the website — including sharing a bunch of images from my camera phone. No, they didn’t teach this to me in seminary. I am totally making this up as I go along.
But, I really like pictures. There’s actually a reference to it in my sermon on Sunday — about how we see in pictures. We really need pictures. Well, at least, I really need pictures. Maybe it’s because I was an art major in college and I can’t quite give up that artistic streak. Or maybe I’m a visual learner. Or maybe it’s a combination of both. For example, when the Strategic Planning Steering Committee met recently, I had to get a picture for how this whole thing was going to work. I went straight to the white board and started drawing diagrams.
I had to draw a picture — which we edited together — about how all of the various committees and people relate to each other. This doesn’t even compare to the ridiculousness of the next thing that I drew on the board.
Today was one of those days where I found myself trying to squeeze in a whole bunch of pastoral visits while also preparing for this big meeting. It was one of those days — and still is one of those days — where I feel totally unprepared for the work God has called me to do. So, after sending this email, I got a reply from one of our older saints in reply who concluded her email with this line:
Wishing you well on your latest venture – can we keep up with you?
This one line makes me sigh and laugh all at once. It cracks me up that she thinks that this is my idea — or maybe even thinks that I’m leading this effort. If there is one thing that I am clear about in my ministry, it’s that I am called to support this congregation in their sacred work. It is not my work — but their work. I am there to cheerlead, support and most importantly pastor. (There are obvious questions that dovetail this, right? For example, if your ministry isn’t the work of the church, then what is? Welcome my midlife crisis. That’s another post entirely. Or maybe a topic for my therapist.) I feel completely and totally unprepared for this strategic planning thing that is happening around me. It’s good work. It’s the right thing to happen but I have no idea what I am doing — and I hesitate to claim this as “my venture” when the church has really been moving toward this point for several years. I have been trying really hard to try to provide sacred space for this wonderful group of people not to feel completely overwhelmed after their long-term pastor retired and this new chick (that would be me) came on the scene who embodies change just by standing on the chancel.
That brings me to the next image I drew — which I think evidences that I have no idea what I’m doing. I had to draw out the process of how this whole thing was going to unfold which I needed a tortoise and a hare to illustrate. The hare is supposed to be ahead of the process — but not too far ahead. (Notice that the hare is actually behind. I can’t explain this.) And then, there are the slower pieces. There is important stuff that still needs to get done — and is really important – but it can move at the pace of the tortoise without any real worry. There’s stuff that has to happen at the beginning of the race and through every step of this race we are supposed to find ways to communicate.
I told you it was ridiculous. You can’t say I didn’t warn you. And this, friends, is how I try to explain how we move forward as the church. Where I actually become the tortoise and the hare myself — trying to figure out the right pace for my own self in this weird and wild work. Guide my feet, Jesus. But, not just mine, guide all our feet.
One thought on “The Tortoise and The Hare”
Since the Hare loses the race in the famous story, I think you got it right that the Hare is behind! Church visioning often feels slow (turtle) but needs to be steady to bring people along (older saint) and get running (hare). I also love that you don't claim the church's work as yours. They need to lead b/c you will only be there so long. But it is a permanent tension we pastors get to balance.