Thursday, December 12, 2013

Titles

I announced in my last post that I would be stepping down from my paid position with my church. Last Sunday I was reflecting on my way home after our church service. I was thinking about how nice it will be to just be another person at church. You see, being on the pastoral team means a lot of responsibility. I don't know if my feelings are right or wrong, but they are what I feel. 

Being on the pastoral team, having the title of "women's pastor" means a lot of things. It means that if I am having a rough Sunday, it doesn't really matter. Suck it up and serve. Because it's not about you. Granted I've had Sundays where I've hung out in the back where no one can find me for most of the service. But I know that once the service is over and it's coffee time, I need to be on my game. Cristobal preaches, but I am the backstage manager. Through the service I am making sure everything runs smoothly. New people are greeted, those without bibles are given one to borrow, the offering is collected, the children don't go crazy in the back. Yeap. Oh, and I guess I hear the sermon too. When I'm done counting how many people showed up that Sunday. 
And then after the service is when the action really happens. I have twenty minutes between the service ending and everyone leaving. In those twenty minutes I need to: make sure all the new people are approached by someone, and that they have a chance to leave their contact information. Make sure all the bibles are collected and boxes are packed up to go back into storage. Make sure I communicate with any leaders whatever information I need to get to them or from them. Coordinating weeks, meetings, and programs. And then there are all the women that I need to be touching base with. There are moments when there is a line of people waiting to talk to me about something personal or social. And I am trying to make sure that the logistical doesn't fall apart. I've tried to explain to the girls that I disciple that I love them but that Sundays after church is not the best time to talk. My friends have already gotten accustomed to me saying, "Can you tell me this story after ISA?" And when I think about the responsibilities that I have at ISA, I feel the social/relational responsibilities much more than the logistical ones. I know that there are moments when people have gotten offended because I haven't take the time to do more than just a quick greeting with them. There are moments when I know that someone wants a sit down chat with me, but I just can't mentally or emotionally handle it. So I just give them the quick standard kiss on the cheek and I keep going. By the time I get home from ISA, it's usually around 4-5pm and I am exhausted. 


Ok, so I read what I just wrote and I hear behind the words a heart that is not ok. And I know that a huge part of it is a lack of resting in God. But I think part of it is just that church planting in Santiago Centro is hard. And the harvest is full but the workers are few.

So as I was walking home on Sunday, I was reflecting about how nice it will be to not have the title of "women's pastor". How nice to be free to just go on a Sunday without all the responsibilities. No one will expect me to sit with them for a chat. No one will expect me to be in charge of all the logistics. Things can fall apart and I can walk away. Ha! 

But as I was cherishing the idea of being responsibility free, I realized that a lot of my burden comes from the title of "women's pastor". That title put a lot of expectations on me. That title gives an image that I am trying to live up to. And I don't know if that's right or wrong. For now, it just is. 

So what happens when I don't have that title anymore. Do I no longer have any expectations? No more responsibilities? No. Because my identity is deeper than the title of "women's pastor". In fact, it's much deeper. God has given me various titles: creation, adopted daughter, beloved. But there was one that really captured my attention this week: slave. Paul describes himself as the slave (or bondservant, but I think the word slave provokes an image that is helpful). Paul knew that his life belonged to another. He knew that he was in a sense, not free. Not free to live his life for himself. No, his life had been purchased by the blood of Jesus. And now he was (happily) a slave. And so am I. No matter what jobs I take on or quit, nothing changes the fact that my life has been bought by the blood of Jesus. I am His. His slave. 

So as I look forward to leaving my paid position at ISA, I cannot forget that my life is not going to suddenly belong to myself again. No, it never did. Not this year, not next year. It belongs to a good and sweet God who calls me to live out my freedom in service to others. 



Changes on the Horizon

(Side note: So sorry for the two and a half month hiatus. Life got a bit busy and while I often thought about writing here, it just never happened.)


As you know from previous posts, I am currently employed by three different groups. They are all related, all church focused, and all dream jobs for me. But alas, it IS possible to have too much good in your life. So after much prayer and counsel I decided to leave two of my jobs and go back to English teaching. Wait a second, you hate English teaching. Well, yeah. I don't know if I would say that I hate it, but it's definitely not my favorite thing to do and it will be really hard to go back to it after getting to work in these jobs for a year. But the plan is to work teaching English for a year or two, earn and save money, and hopefully after a while have enough money saved to do something else. Like... open up a cafe.

So I gave my notice to two of my jobs. I'll stay with the church planting network job. Mainly because it's the one that costs me the least amount of emotional energy and yet still refines my administrative skills. Of course the transition will be hard, especially "leaving" ISA. I have to say "leaving" because I am not actually leaving the church. In fact, Cristobal has asked me to stay on the Pastoral Team. So I'm not sure how we are going to manage putting down limits and respecting those said limits. But to be honest, I'm a bit tired and I'm glad to be leaving my paid post as the women's pastor. This isn't to say that I'm not incredibly sad to leave the job. I have LOVED serving in our church plant. But ministry is hard. Pastoring is really hard. And pastoring in a church plant is REALLY hard. There are a lot of blessings that come with the job- seeing people have their lives changed by Jesus is biggest one. I can't tell you how much I have laughed and cried for joy over the last year. Seeing God transform lives right before my very eyes.  Seeing people who have been consistently rejected from social groups because they are conflictive people, seeing them ask for forgiveness from those they have hurt. Seeing resolution. Seeing redemption. Seeing families restored. It's amazing. Nothing less than miracles. And I got to be a part of it all year long.

But I'm tired. All that amazing fruit that I get to see as a woman's pastor comes at a high emotional and mental cost. In our little plant, there are about 30 needy and broken women for every 1 woman who can serve others. I've had various women come to me upset that no one was there for them when they were going through their recent crisis. And all I could do is look from side to side and say, Who is supposed to go? I'm here right now. I'm listening to you. I care for you. I want God's best for you. But I am only one person and there are so many needs. Our church is immature. And if there is no one else looking to serve others, then there is no one else! I have lived all year with the sensation that there are women who just slipped through our fingers. Who needed a loving community, but that I just couldn't give any more.

And so I am stepping down from my paid position with the church. No one is taking my place (sadly) and I will still continue on the pastoral team. Next year, our pastoral team will be Cristobal (head pastor), Max (university minister), and me (the not-paid-anymore women's pastor).

As some of you know, I've been getting some medical tests done. Little did I know that my constantly stressed life was taking such a toll on my body. There are a lot of details that I won't go into, but after 6 months of blood tests and all kinds of fun, they finally sent me in for a CAT scan to see if I had a tumor. Which I don't. But my body was acting like I did, and it's from the stress. Scary, eh? The good news is that since I made the decision to quit two of my jobs, I can literally feel the difference. I live in a much lighter state of being. And this week's bloodwork confirmed the feeling. My body is starting to work again as it should.

So yeah. Let the adventure continue. I started this blog when I first came to Chile. And I named it "capturing the moment with Jesus, one day at a time" and it's been true to its name. This next year I think it going to be a year of settling. My health stabilizing. My work taking an appropriate place in my life. My relationships flourishing. And my life settling into Chile. I'm coming up on my 3 year mark here, so I guess it's about time.