November 7, 2009

pull to plant

This week I've spent a lot of time outside.  For Pastor Appreciation Month my congregation gave me a gift certificate to Earl May and some gardening tools.  And it was an extremely meaningful gift because a) it means that they understand some of the ways that I take care of myself (gardening) and b) it allowed me to get some things done in the midst of the stressful time of ordination papers too. 

To be honest - if I hadn't recieved that gift, the south side of my house would still be a mess.  There would be tall grasses and crazy trees and weeds and leaves all over.  I affectionately have referred to it as the eyesore on the south side. At least once before I've tried to clear the area - but then when our plants didn't arrive, it soon grew back over. 

So this past week - in the amazing warm weather for the first week of November (in the 50's) I've taken a few hours each day to slowly but surely work on it. 

Monday, my mom went with me to pick out some shrubs and bulbs and then helped me do some clearing.  Throughout the week I've dug out stumps, removed the plastic underlayer, pulled weeds, broke a shovel and have some nasty bruises to show for my work.

Then yesterday - the shrubs went in the ground.  There are two "fire chief" conifers, a blueberry plant, and a mandarin azaela.  Today after the Iowa game I will probably be working on planting some tulip, crocus and dafodill bulbs.

In the midst of all of that, I had some time to think.  About how overgrown other areas of my life are and where the chaos needs to be put in order and weeded and new things planted.  The truth is that new things cannot take root unless room is made - unless everything else moves away.

As a pastor this is absolutely true.  The last week in October I tried to work on my papers, but I left too many of my other responsibilities in the way.  I got very little done and it took a lot of effort to get there.  But this week I took time away from my other tasks, escaped to coffee shops and my office and progress was made.

As I try to nurture leadership development - I have to get myself out of the way and pull up my roots so that there is room for new leaders to emerge.  I'm thinking about various ways to encourage new growth in the congregation and to fertilize those who have said yes, but aren't sure of their new surroundings.  A leadership retreat is definately in my plans - but I'm also thinking about restructuring our meeting arrangements so that more than one group meets at once, and I move between groups.  Not having me to rely on means that others will have to take over the reigns - but I can also be there when they do need me. My real task needs to be working with leaders, not running the meetings.

That arrangement would also free up more time to meet individually with leaders in the congregation, do the visitation of our homebound members, and build relationships with our youth and families.

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