18 September 2013

Vision, Direction and Over-Correction

Last night, Beloved and I rode down to the library with our girls.  Our eldest is a very good rider these days - she scoots right along on her big girl bike.  Little sister, however, remains a work in progress.  Riding behind her last night was both comical and nerve-wracking.  She's not good enough to drop her training wheels yet, but she wants to ride fast enough to stay up with big sister; the resulting mess is a wobbly, heart-stopping mix of weaving all over the sidewalk, sudden stops, violent bursts and, in the end, bruised tailbones (and thankfully, thus far, no broken bones).

This child?  Not mine. Most emphatically not.

Little Sister rides with her head down.  Eyes on her pedals, her front wheel, her hands, what have you.  She depends on her training wheels to keep her upright, so she yaws frantically from side to side and frequently over-balances and over-corrects, knocking herself even more off-kilter as she pedals.  She hasn't learned yet how to "lean to the middle" as Big Sister puts it.  So she's often distracted with each pedal stroke, to the point that we make sure we're no less than ten feet behind so that we can help instantly if she wobbles into the street in front of a car or something like that.

Last night, trying to help her ride better, I said, "Watch Mommy!  Look where you're going!"  For a few seconds, she could do it, but then a twitch happened and the eyes went back to her hands, her feet, to constantly monitoring the act of riding the bicycle instead of just riding the bicycle.

This morning I attended a continuing education event on Personnel and Performance Management.  It was incredibly helpful for me -the sort of thing I wish had been available as part of my First Call Theological Education.  One of the things we discussed was the need for regular conversations about performance with an eye toward fulfilling the annual goals every staff member should set (including the pastor).  As we discussed what these meetings can help us avoid, last night's bike ride came to mind.  The image, as I see it, translates:  if we're focused on just the day we have, we get wobbly and nervous.  We see-saw from one thing to another with no idea where we're going and how we're getting there.  We might correct the problem of the day, but we could wind up out in the middle of a problem without having any idea how we got there or how to get out of it.

I need these reminders to get my head away from the sidewalk six inches in front of me and start looking to where we need to go as a church.  I need to learn how to encourage others to do the same.  Casting a vision for ministry doesn't stop with crafting a mission statement (though we have a good one) - that's just the first step.  Now comes the time to put that mission into motion - to look up and pedal hard toward where God is calling us to go.

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