Thursday, December 14, 2006

Second Week of Working for the Church

Still a lot of work... but really enjoying it.

Things are starting to come together... slowly. I'm learning more the administrative ropes (still a challenge). I'm managing to contact a few people. And, as always with this kind of work, there were surprising and unexpected successes and breakthroughs that make the drudgery lighter. All in all, I really can't believe my good fortune in having this job.

That is one complication, actually. Now it is my job to do most of those things that I had been doing voluntarily in my spare time. So when I'm working there is this disconnect - am I working now or is this fun? And what do I fill up my spare time with, now that I'm doing my "volunteer" work (and more) during the work-day?

And working from home adds a whole layer of ambiguity - when am I not working? When do I stop working - does closing my office door mean I'm "out"? And as much as I'd like to maintain a 40-hour (or so) work-week, that idea was shot down the first week. It just isn't that clearly calculable. But I want to make sure the church gets its money's worth, and I want to make sure I'm not working myself into burnout. I knew the work-life balance issue was going to need some attention, but I wasn't prepared for not knowing where to find that issue at all sometimes!

Yesterday I drew up a schedule - down to 5-minute increments - to keep me on track. So far, though I've been five or ten minutes off all day, it's helped at least make me feel like I have some direction. Part of my daily routine, I hope, is going to make deliberate room for prayer and mediation, part of which will be lectio divina writing - published on a blog (imagine that) linked to this page. I'm trying to keep a balance, too, between allowing myself not to be immediately productive, to let the Spirit move and guide me, to work with me and my work, but still... it'll be nice to at least have my "non-productive" meditations count somewhat like "productivity" (look, ma, I put it on the web... it must be something!).

Really, though this is a lot of work, I wouldn't trade it for anything (true?) right now. I am tremendously excited about this job, this work. I am really anxious to get things rolling, and I'm trying to keep that energy up, because once things do start rolling, I'm going to need to keep up with them. Already, people in the Mission Center have responded very well to my contacts and I think there's room and interest to do some good work. Keep me in your prayers.

Blessings: Peace and Solidarity,
Christian

P.S. One tangential observation: People love to talk with me about religion and God now. Strangers. People whom I knew but with whom I never spoke about religion. Former co-workers and neighbors and friends. Community activists. People come out of the woodwork when they learn that I am a full-time minister to talk about God with me. This is still amazing to me. I need to get used to it, and start capitalizing on these opportunities.

Don't get me wrong - I don't want to proselytize. I just don't want to miss the opportunity to deepen people's faith, to connect the dots between what we've been doing and are doing (mostly social justice and labor movement folks) with our faith declarations. So far, I've been doing an adequate job of that - making use of the opportunities, connecting things, drawing out of people deeper and more intimate observations and confessions. But I need to work on it more. And, certainly, I need to get out on the street more.

One aspect of this job I hadn't considered is the amount of desk-work. I want to get out on the street, in the pews, around potluck and conference tables and get to work! But I am realizing how much back-work, how much preparation, cultivation and intentionality goes into those interactions. Those meetings are more precious to me now, and that realization puts my deskwork into greater clarity, into a larger vision, gives my hours behind a computer more value. Plus, I must remember, this is a job. Somebody's paying me to do this. There are technicalities that must be satisfied.

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