Tonight amongst the youth activities and assisting Lauralea to make supper for the whole gang of them, and cleaning up, it was also time for my annual pastoral review to be completed. You need to know that the leaders in charge of it were willing to put it off a few weeks but I teased that I would prefer to know my fate before heading into the hard work of Christmas and all. So they met first and processed the data from the congregation and then I met with them so that they could go over the results with me.
Nearly every year I steel myself for surprises in those reviews, perhaps something I never saw coming sort of things. So this year was the same in that way.
It's kind of unnerving as they report that there was a higher than normal participation level from the congregation. Was it more people ticked off? More frustrated people? More people wanted to get heard about something?
Turns out it was just more people wanting to affirm me.
The list of affirmations was long and nicely repetitive. They were well thought through responses too, not shallow like some forms can produce, like "I judge a man by the shoes he wears" (yes I had that once) sort of surface answers.
No, these were very humbling observations to hear. I do work hard and I do try to work smart but sometimes in the cracks of my heart, I feel insecure and occasionally over my head in this stuff. And I wonder when they will tell me yup the game is up, you're done here so go sell vacuum cleaners.
I remember in my first year in pastoral work, my daily prayer was just "Please Lord, just don't let me screw this up." Over the years it shifted to more of a "Please don't let me screw them up," sort of prayer.
But these later years it's been more of a "Lord, keep me from temptation," sort of a prayer. There is lots to temp someone who's been involved in ministry stuff for 30 years. Temptation to check out spiritually and run on momentum only. Temptation to get angry and bitter about the petty stuff and walk away, or worse, stay in a church. Temptation to settle, to loose the fire in the heart. Yeah, all kinds of temptations.
For me it's just humbling to hear what they think about what I am doing and who I am.
This bunch have come a long long way in a very few short years, but that's more about what God's been doing in them than what I've been doing here. I just get to be here with them for now, and to point them to The One who knows what they need, deep inside.
Oh and the growth areas they saw needing attention in my life?
Well one thought I needed to stop cheering for the Riders, so I reported back to the others that I hadn't made much noise about the Riders this failing year, had I?
The others were concerned for my health and that I take time for myself and my spirit to be in good places. They saw and appreciated the need for more staff here, so that I could get on with the things I'm good at. Even in my growth areas they were affirming.
See, like I said gracious field people here.
So for now I will take that as an indication from the body of Christ that meets here in a field in Malmo that I am to continue in this work to which I have been called, until He chooses to move me on, up or over.
Tomorrow is another full day so I'm heading home and to bed.
Night from the field.