It never fails. I sign up for a conference, excited to see friends and family, eager to learn new things, giddy about attending a worship service I am not in charge of for once…and then it hits. The pre-conference panic.
I know that I will be inundated with information, much of it incredibly important and useful.
I know I will hear amazing stories of faithfulness, of “what’s working” and how lives are being transformed.
I know I will be immersed in new ideas and exposed to innovative practices.
Suddenly, the Liar ups his game in convincing me how woefully inadequate I am, how little I actually know. I hear the whispers, reminding me of the failures of my own work or, even worse, the whispers of the futility of my work. I panic, wondering how I will master and implement all the new things I am “supposed” to be doing. I feel that creeping vine of comparison climbing up my body, its tendrils curling around my neck, trying to choke hope and peace.
Why did I sign up for this again?
A few weeks ago, I was meeting with an amazing lady from our congregation who was exploring the possibility of serving as leader of a ministry in our church. The denominational-level description of the job is enough to make any grown person burst into tears and run for the hills with its wildly expansive expectations. I could see the worry cloud her face, silently declaring I canNOT do this. I assured her that our expectation was not a 100% implementation of every facet of this program, but rather one or two primary tasks, experiments you might say, both to educate and engage the congregation. “Let’s do this one thing well and see what happens.” Relief flooded her face and we both smiled.
So, as I prepare for this upcoming denominational conference, here’s my pastoral pep talk…to myself.
So here I go! Eyes fixed on you Jesus. Ever and always, fixed on you.