I am a pastor and a leader, a father, a gardener and a landscaper, a writer and a web designer. As a pastor, caretaker and writer I am responsible to provide content into persons lives. To fill in the structure that already exists with meaningful things at the appropriate times. As a leader, landscaper and web designer I am responsible to create structures that are open enough that others can then fill them and inhabit them with their own content. These structures need to be flexible enough to give freedom to the new and existing content as well as provide boundaries so all the good content doesn’t get muddled up together.
As a father, I have recently found, I am to do both, often at the same time. This became ever so clear at my daughter’s wedding last week. I spent months, literally, building a wedding event that my family, friends, and most importantly my daughter and her new husband could fill with content. I mixed and poured, by hand, with my father’s and son’s help, two tons of cement in order to fill all the cracks and holes in the cement pad on my family’s farm created due to the demolition of the turkey house that had previously set upon it.
Then on the day of the wedding my role as father changed. I needed to provide content not structure. I needed to fill the day with meaningful things that highlighted the love that was embodied in my daughter and her young husband. I needed to sit with my daughter as we waited to ride in my grandfather’s old blue Cadillac to the ceremony and tell her that she was beautiful. I needed to let my daughter, her groom, my wife and all our family and friends fill the day as well and give them freedom to provide what might be meaningful to them. It was hard for me. But it was a joy as well to see my efforts on the structure being filled with the content of my life and theirs. It all came together in a meaningful way. (Disclaimer: I didn’t do it all. I have a lovely and gifted wife who filled in the “divots and cracks” as well in more ways than one.)
What I realized however in this whole experience is that it is hard to do both; create and maintain structure and provide meaningful content all at the same time. I learned that I need to do one or the other and that I (maybe you can) but I cannot do both at the same time. I needed to focus on one and then focus on the other. It is tough but doable. Multi-tasking, by the way, is a myth!
As I turn my thoughts to my work as a pastor and a leader, a gardener and a landscaper, a writer and a web designer I realize too, that there are seasons of focus. Times when I need to focus more on creating structure and times when I need to forget about my work on structures and provide meaningful content.
I realize as well that I don’t always do that very well. Balance is so important. It has been a season, somewhat long, of focusing on structures. I have been working in my lead pastoral role to create a more organic structure at my church so that others might be free to grow but now I need to begin to focus more on relationships in the structure. I planted many beautiful plants and re-landscaped my yard but the weeds are growing and the plants need watering. I built a website for MC USA so that those not able to attend our national conference for various reasons might still have an equal voice in the decision making of our church. But now it is time to have good table conversation within that design.