Now what?

Last night, our superintendent gave his keynote address at our denomination’s annual session, which we so creatively name “Yearly Meeting.” Colin Saxton is just completing his first year in that role, and it was further confirmation to me that he is the one to be in this role. He’s got a wonderful ability to paint a picture of what we as the church could become, and to make everyone feel like they belong and are a part of that future.

From a leadership standpoint, I really admire what he did. He simply told his story; but in doing so, he painted a clear picture of why he loves Quakers in the Northwest, articulated a vision for wholistic followers of Jesus, spoke of his gratefulness and love for the people in our churches who have loved and discipled him and his family, and forthrightly addressed our divisions and disunity.

From a personal standpoint, I’m further in crisis after what he did. He spoke of his joy in what he’s doing. He spoke of loving what he’s doing so much he’d do it without pay. He asked us to consider what unique part of the puzzle we offer to Northwest Yearly Meeting.

It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to ask one’s self: Where’s my joy? Where’s my passion for what I do? What in the world is my place in our puzzle?

Now what?

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8 thoughts on “Now what?

  1. “Don’t ask yourself what the world needs. Ask yourself what makes you come alive and go do that, because that is what the world needs.”

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  2. Are you asking the closing questions hoping that Colin would answer them by the end of the session? Or do you feel like he knows where to go from here personally, but you don’t for yourself?Ps. I think I’m going to become the female John Wimber: it’s probably not good to tell the revisioning committee representative that the committee’s trying to restructure a model that’s defunct and dying. In front of the BoE. Last year I could blame my outbursts due to pregnancy-induced hormones . . . but I don’t have that excuse this year. Ooops. 🙂

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  3. Let’s skip the boring political stuff Gregg…it’s not you. I did enjoy the piece on your response to Colin Saxton’s speech at yearly meeting however and here is my response to your response.Taking nothing away from Colin’s words of exhortation or his contributions…I question whether he would REALLY do his job without pay. It’s very easy to say that when there is really no chance of it happening. I wonder how he would respond if the Yearly Meeting made it possible for him to work without pay? Again, not downplaying anything (else) he said or what he represents I can understand why any conscientious, caring individual such as yourself would question…”My gosh do I love what I do so much that I would do it without pay?” I have met countless people who cannot express to you how much they love their career but I highly doubt they would do it for free. You did a sermon recently about telling the truth…was Colin really truthful in this scenario? Only he knows I guess. By the way…”that was a great sermon”…As for where you fit in “the puzzle” God has blessed you with natural talents/values in certain areas. Spend some time thinking over the past ten years and ask yourself when you felt you were in the “the zone” in your career/life (you remember that feeling on third base when nothing gets by you or at the plate when you hit a rope up the middle at every at bat?). What were the activities your day was filled with at that time? What were you doing when others responded positively to you? What increases your sense of self-respect and personal pride? What have you accomplished previously that gives you great satisfaction? Asking these questions will help you to formulate a picture of the ways in which you fit into the puzzle. When your daily activities are in line with your values you will be able to contribute best and be most fulfilled.I’m asking myself these same questions as I embark on a new direction career wise.Have fun?

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  4. G, if I had had my stuff together at the time, it would have been great not only to see you in Tacoma, but to digest the weekend together with new seminarians. The central questions that arose: is the model of pastoral ministry so common in our churches compelling them toward it? Is it life-giving? biblical? or has the professionalization of the pastorate made pastors what they are not intended to be?It also naturally led back to the questions we discussed months ago. Will the current expression of the church last? and for how long? Will other churches like Solomon’s Porch just fade away too as irrelevant or will they provide some life-giving vision to those without hope?And if those are some dry beans, then try these questions on concerning our beloved children. . . Is the life we are living together in Christian community (whatever Christian form it may be. . . mainline, evangelical, catholic, etc.) compelling to our children? What will be the factors that carry our faith from one generation to the next? This is a question that begs for an answer, and lets just start with a little condemnation maybe? of those churches that think entertaining them into the kingdom with arcades in church are going to compel.Let’s get this dialogue going back and forth again. We need to come back to it again. Over and out.

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  5. Jimmy asked this about pastoral ministry: Is it life-giving? biblical? or has the professionalization of the pastorate made pastors what they are not intended to be?Life-giving you ask. To whom were you referring to? The pastor, the church, the community were we live and work, the world?I have a friend who told me it took them 2 years to find a pastor after theirs left and while I don’t know the details, she said it was a good thing to have happened to their church. On the other hand, Gregg is calling us to be more than we have become. In our hundred year old case, we’ve become a little too inwardly focused, selfish maybe with our institutional time and resources. We need a voice to raise our heads, make us look around and invite the Spirit to kick us off the pews we’ve become glued.Without pastors on staff, who is going to sit around 🙂 and think about the church all day? Lets name what pastors were intended to be and go do that!

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  6. I, for one, believe Colin. He might not be able to do his job without pay for long, but I believe that he would if he could and if it were needful. I believe this because I am pastoring my church without pay and have been doing so for 18 months. I had other offers, both inside and outside of the ministry. I have a man in my life who feeds me and keeps me in frocks, but we both know that we have taken a huge lifestyle hit to do this. We both also know that I could make more than he does teaching if I sold my soul to the insurance industry and did counseling full time.But, oh the joy of the thing! I absolutely hate to cry in public, but I have been doing it too much lately in meeting out of sheer joy. I had to turn my recording certificate in, and leave a lot of people I love to get the liberty to do something I felt was radically obedient, but I wouldn’t change a step. I awake each day knwoing that I am doing exactly what I was created to do. Some things I expected have come to pass – there is a thriving new baby church. Some things have come as a complete surprise – the calibur of folks that God has sent to our sides. The most surprising has been the reaction of my own children. I had a couple of late adolescent/early adult typically disaffected preacher’s kids – who would hate to admit it, but who have become proud of me. I think I might even be their hero at the moment – and they are engaged with what we are doing. I didn’t do this for them, but they are mad compelled.I am doing what I was created to do. It turns out to be a kick.I am a hero to my children.I may take a little pay for this at some point, but really, I have enough frocks.

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  7. Response to Peggy:You acted instead of merely talked about it. Clearly you’ve demonstrated your commitment to your cause by taking the action you did. I imagine your new church is not really in a position to support you financially either. Your husband has a job that can support the family without your income (and you’ve undoubtedly made sacrifices to achieve that) so you are actually in a position to do this. I’m not completely sure of Colin’s financial situation but I do not believe that he is in the same position so in reality even though “he would do if for free”, in reality he can’t so it’s pretty safe for him to say that isn’t it? I personally don’t think Colin (or anyone in ministry) should necessarily work for free. We live in a world where you have to make a living. I just don’t like the message it sends to the rest of the population who might question the worth of what they are doing because…by gosh they actually enjoy earning a living doing it.You said you are doing what you have been created to do. Would you be willing to share the process you went through to figure this out. You’ve clearly determined the shape of your “puzzle piece” so that it fits into the picture perfectly.By the way…Colin is only an acquaintance of mine and I want to make sure it is understood that I am not attacking him or the great things he is doing in Yearly Meeting. I don’t think there is anyone more qualified to be in that role and from what I understand he is doing a tremendous job. I simply took issue with one VERY small part of the whole and decided to respond.

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  8. Short Answer to the process questionI have been a Quaker for 20 some years. My favorite thing about being a Quaker is that it is a ‘listening’ spirituality. I have been mentored in this listening by some of the best. I thank God for Laura, Vivian, Hubert, Marcile, and sr. Jo. It has been a hands on, trial and error, sometimes school of hard knock process. But they have taught me that I can hear God, hear God accurately and act upon what I hear. I don’t do it perfectly by any means. It hasn’t all been fun by any means. The applause of the crowd has been lacking, but community has always been there. But I am committed to doing this process and doing it daily. I know of no short-cuts to the process of daily discipline of listening and attempts at obedience. 20 years seems like a beginning. A Spiritual Director helps a lot – I do this monthly. A clearness committee can help when needed. It has brought me to a place of deep intimacy and regular joy.

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