I find more people are interested in being seen as someone who does the right thing than I do people who just do the right thing despite how it may look. Character isn’t what people think, that’s reputation. Character is who you are when others aren’t looking.
For the last two years I’ve been riding the pine at church. This time has taught me a lot about what it means to be in church leadership.
From age 16 until 31 I had always aspired to be an up front leader at church. I like being visible. I love speaking, teaching, and preaching. I truly enjoy the grind of regularly doing those things as my vocation.
Over the past two years I’ve gone from being the person everyone on our church campus knew to being a relative nobody. In athletic terms, I went from being a starter to being a player who sits the bench.
And just like in athletics, when you put a starter on the bench, the Coach always does it so the starter can learn.
Here are 5 things I’ve learned from riding the bench at church:
- Every attendee gets something different out of a Sunday morning, you can’t control the takeaway or topic one bit. I can’t believe I ever thought I could control that.
- The more a church offers the less people are involved in their community. Growing a church by doing less doesn’t make logical sense, but its 100% true.
- Never assume people know what a term is or who an author/speaker is that you reference. People in church leadership live in a different world, with different heroes, than the rest of the congregation.
- Visibly valuing people is really important. This manifests itself in a lot of different ways. But it demonstrates the church leaderships character in what they put up front.
- People in the pews care way more about the staff and their families than I ever imagined. It’s not creepy, it’s not some American idol worship, it’s actually quite sweet.
If you’ve gone from church staff to church attendee, what are some things you’ve learned through that process that could help people in church leadership?
“That was so cool! A little scary. Can we go faster next time?“ These are the words of my five year old yesterday. Towards the end of the day Paul came to the office to spend time with me because it was abundantly clear mom needed a break from his antics. Not sure how I would transport home my bike, my normal gear, and a kindergartner via the trolley I just told Kristen to drop him off. I have unshakable trust in the theory of emergent plans.
Standing on the street corner I decided that it was plausible to have Paul straddle the bar in front of me, hold onto the handlebars, and peg his feet into my bottle holder. The key to understanding this wild ride is knowing that the journey is .7 miles and nearly all downhill. Even by myself it is one of those downhill journeys that hovers right on that border between amazing and just-a-little-too-fast. So I picked him up, got him seated, and off we went. As daddy white-knuckled down the hill suddenly realizing how stupid this adventure was, Paul beamed with pride. Daddy is thinking about what he’ll tell the paramedics on the way to the Emergency Room and Paul’s wide-eyes glisten as he dreams of going faster. My inner actuarialist vomited all over his shoes. My inner 12 year old thought it was rad. A few minutes later we arrived at the trolley station. Paul got off my bike and sat down on the bench next to me. In that moment we both realized he was a little bit closer to manhood.
Outside of the obvious needs of taking care of our children we are challenged with raising them. Kristen and I have been learning that raising a boy is entirely different than raising a girl. And we are having our eyes opened wider and wider every day as to what that means for Paul. Our son loves to live life a little dangerous. While dad dreams of playing rounds of golf at Torrey Pines, Spyglass, or even Pebble Beach… Paul is dreaming about jumping off of stuff, climbing mountains, and finding snakes. His dreams for himself are often more daring and dangerous than mom and dad can handle. And yet we long to foster this spirit of adventure in him. In fact, I want nothing more than a son who looks danger in the face and steps up to conquer instead of winnowing away his dreams because of fear. While I am always concerned he’ll get hurt I am more worried that my own fears will contribute to him not becoming the boy his souls longs to be. We constantly weigh the fear or danger vs. the fear of not enough danger.
Yesterday was a reminder of my role in raising a son who is crazy enough to change the world.
Yesterday was a reminder that behind great men lay great parents who reminded them that its not just about danger, it’s about embracing courageous danger.
Yesterday was a reminder that our society cannot be filled with men who are always cautious and only seek adventure in measured amusement parks or other things that are pseudo-dangerous.
Yesterday was a reminder that if I want my son to believe to his core in the theory of emergent plans he needs to see me go MacGyver here and there.
Plans? Who needs a plan?