Ha! That'll be the day! But seriously, I started my new job yesterday, interning at a meeting here in the Portland area. I was excited about it already, and now I'm really excited because I have more of a feel for what it's going to be like. I hung out with the pastor at a coffee shop yesterday and chatted about the internship and the meeting community. I'm so grateful to be given this chance to help out with their meeting, to be trusted to come in and teach them things, and hopefully to learn.
Today I worked on preparing for a sermon that I get to preach on June 11. I'm excited about it, although it's hard work preparing a sermon. At the same time, it feels Spirit-led. I think if I had to prepare something every week it wouldn't necessarily feel Spirit-led, but I'm having fun so far thinking and praying about the topic I chose, studying the Greek and seeing how it illumines the passage I'm working with, and connecting it with everyday life. I have a harder time thinking of cute stories to tell, like most "good pastors" seem to do. And I know I like that when I listen to preaching--I like hearing stuff based on the person's own experience and stories. So I need to listen a bit more around that and let God bring things to mind that illustrate the ideas I'll be sharing about.
I'm excited because although I love unprogrammed worship and choose to go to unprogrammed meetings over programmed ones when I have the choice, I'm also growing in appreciation for the ability God has of being present in the preparation process for meetings for worship. If God can tell me what to say in the moment, why couldn't God tell me beforehand so we can work out how to say it in a way that will be helpful to more people? I think we need both opportunities: the ability and the space for spontaneously listening and speaking what we hear, and the ability and space to prepare and think well in advance in order to speak truth in creative and helpful ways.
I'm also excited to get to help this meeting with leadership development. If you can't tell from my last several days of posts, I get a lot of energy and life from leadership development stuff. I think it's probably one of the things I'm most passionate about. It seems to me that pretty much anyone could be a good leader if given the proper tools and support. Maybe some people are natural leaders...but maybe it has a lot to do with the life situations they grew up in. For example, I'm kind of shy and really I probably wouldn't talk much in groups if I hadn't ever been asked to. But I'm the oldest child, the oldest of 9 grandchildren on one side where all of us cousins have grown up pretty close (physically and emotionally), and so in lots of ways I was the natural leader not because of my abilities but because I was the oldest, the responsible one, the one everyone would be looking up to. Yes, different people respond to this kind of thing differently and it wouldn't necessarily make everyone a leader (at least not a good one), but combined with some amazing adults in my life and experiences that have helped me grow, I have grown into a space where I am a competent leader, but I still understand that I'm not the best leader out there and it keeps me humble--but I think that's important in a leader, too.
So anyway, stuff about leadership really interests me, because in a lot of ways it's incredibly vague and in the eye of the beholder. There's a lot of power in leadership, and a lot of space to help people see that leadership isn't all about weilding power. I think leadership is something we don't always do well as Friends, because "we're all ministers," so we don't really train anyone. We all have the right to clerk or to share in meeting or to start a ministry we feel called to, so we don't really worry about helping people develop these kinds of skills. Maybe we think the Spirit will do that work for us, and definitely the Spirit is needed, but I think we also need to take an active part in helping one another feel supported and encouraged so they can lead with confidence. So I feel honored to be able to assist in that process with this meeting for the next few months.