People often ask me how I jam as much as I do into every day. The short answer is that I plan. Planning allows me to be considerate of others when they drop by the office. If I did not have my work done, or even have work done that is not needed until later, I would be in a pickle when someone drops by unexpectedly. I try my best to do three things in every day; do the tasks that need to be done, the day by day duties that are required, look a week ahead, a month ahead, to make sure all of the events on the horizon are attended to, and “think big”, what are the visioning things we are not currently attending to, the big picture of church life, that get lost when we are too focused on the “weeds”. Every day I try my best to get the tasks done, to plan ahead and to think big.
In the midst of funeral planning and large fundraisers and sermon preparation and pastoral care and connecting with volunteers and staff it is very important not to miss either the short term or the long term horizon. I know many gifted Ministers who dream big and have the big picture of church constantly in their sights. I so admire them, they push we task folk to look up and see that when all is said and done if we have not attended to the larger questions many of our people will feel we’ve become a small social club. The church is more than a social club, there are larger issues at stake, and if we are not pushing ourselves to think and act with vision we are not being the church of Jesus the Christ.
Likewise I know Ministers who are excellent at the immediate tasks. I admire them too, they attend to the things people notice, when persons show up at our churches they notice the details and details matter to more people than the vision-stuff. Ministers who spend too much time in their office in prayer and in vision-mode and not enough walking around the building, the outside of the church, out visiting the people, lose touch. One cannot really do vision without a firm grasp of the people who are the church. Without a grounding in and through the people the vision is lost.
So my goal is to be both; a task person and a vision person, to have my boots on the ground and my eyes on the prize, to look where my feet walk and my eyes find beauty and purpose. My own weakness is the need for process, to allow persons in a group to find their voice. I get frustrated with process because I find it often does not include as many people as I would like, that it is sometimes more a function of the one leading the process than the people who are trying to find their voice. I also find process tends to value those who like to talk in small groups and overlooks the majority who only talk one on one. Still process is important, it allows groups to find their voice in a moment and validates that voice. I wish I had more patience with process.
I also find it hard to acknowledge when people tell me they are concerned about my pace and workload when their next breath is “so are you in the office tomorrow…can we meet tomorrow night (even when they know I am at a meeting the night before and the night after).” This also speaks to a weakness of mine, that I tend to value more what people do than what people say. The task and vision parts of me are triggers by where people stand rather than the words people speak.
Task, process and vision. Two out of three isn’t band.