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Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Put Me In, Coach

If you've known me for awhile you'll know I've been working through some major life transitions. It has been a wild ride. As of February 1, it will be one year since I officially resigned from my last position of fifteen years. That exit was akin to having several organs removed... I had so many years and relationships that I had invested in, and it was unimaginable to me that I could leave.

Yet so many things (including some significant shoves from God) had pointed me in that direction, and I felt ready, or at least willing, to take a big leap into the unknown. At one point I told someone that I felt like I'd flung myself off a cliff, and didn't know if there was going to be a net, a bungee cord, a parachute -- or absolutely nothing -- to catch me. It was mostly terrifying and a tiny bit thrilling.

I picked the worst time in modern American history to leave a well-paying, stable job with loads of great things about it. But God is bigger. And though it had days of real fear, I can say in hindsight that I am so grateful I took the step.

I don't want to paint a rosy picture. In the months following my exit, I made $0.00 the first month, $720 the second month, $2000 the third month... and this was still only about 35% of what I used to living on. But I was pressed to step into new places of prayer and risk and simplicity and humility and raw vulnerability. Somehow I do not want to ever forget how that felt. I learned a whole lot about what still needs work in me. Again I say, God is bigger. And more than enough.

But I must say that the thing I've learned THE MOST about is this: just admit that you have a terrible imagination.

In other words, just because YOU cannot imagine how something, ANYthing, is going to work out, does not mean it will not or cannot work out. Because, truth be told, it's really all about how incredibly limited your perspective is. The ability to see your life accurately is about the same as when you pick up binoculars and accidentally look through the wrong end of the lenses. Everything looks itsy bitsy small and indecipherable. And very far away.

I say this because I am now pursuing four, and really FIVE, different jobs right now. They all let me do things I enjoy doing like mad, and I would never have pictured myself doing any single one of them when I finally said, "I think it's time to go" from my other job. If you're in a big life transition yourself, write that one down.

For example... one of the biggest surprises to emerge out of all this has been this new venture into pastoral coaching. I still sort of twitch, maybe even cringe a teeny bit when I use that word "coach." I just have visions of websites with phrases like "Awake. Transform. Create." blazing across in floaty script with butterflies emerging from cocoons or people standing with arms outstretched on beaches or mountain tops. Barf.

All I can say is a I fell into it in a only-God-could-have-come-up-with-this sort of way. I still could not tell you how it all happened, but I ended up meeting most of last year with lead pastors from 3 different churches on a weekly basis (through video conferencing), started with a 4th in December, and have 3 more I'm starting with in the next month. (Don't worry, I'm not a freak who no longer sleeps -- I finished with my first project in November, and am finishing the next two this month. I can't really manage more than 3-4 at a time on top of the other stuff I'm doing.)

It's hard to quantify what we work on together. But there is a method in the madness as we work through identification of talents (and blind spots), places that need work, time management, moving from being reactive to proactive (sorry, I know that sounds very life-coachy, but it's true), leadership development, vision casting, management of staff, development of structures for growth, strategic planning... plus a whole lotta problem-solving in between. I have been privileged to work with several tremendous and gifted people from different cultures and backgrounds who are leading a very intriguing combination of churches. I feel so very fortunate.

Two passages come to mind:
Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us. Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured such opposition from sinful men, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart. (Hebrews 12:1-3)

Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal. (2 Corinthians 4:16-18)

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  1. Kelly,
    Thanks so much for the post. It really spoke to me and where I am at in life right now. The peering-off-a-cliff analogy is one I have used frequently in the past few weeks. I also take comfort in the fact that our God is so trustworthy and is FOR us. Thanks for that reminder.

  2. some great thoughts about remembering how small is our own vision for our lives. and letting go and letting God (add that to your life-coach jargon!).

  3. Kel, thanks for reminding me that basically my imagination-- well, sucks. But I get excited that God's imagination far exceeds mine!