As a senior in high school, I was voted “most likely to proclaim myself ruler of a small European country.” That hasn’t quite happened yet. But, for the last year, I have been director of a small non-profit organization, the Institute of Christian Studies International (ICSI). I served on the board for five years before that; and I’ve been involved as a student, intern and teacher since the ’90’s. But last Tuesday, our board decided it was time to officially dissolve the 27-year-old organization. Why? Simply put, I was not able to put the time into the organization that I had anticipated a year ago.
Last Autumn, about the time I started as director of ICSI, I sort of happened into the ministry of worship coordinator at church. In that setting, I’ve been a bit of a reluctant leader. I was just another guitarist on the worship team when I got ushered into the leadership role. Though I certainly have my ideas of what a worship ministry should look like and what it’s all about, I did not want to rock the boat. So I have made changes gradually over the last year. I often get positive feedback and I know God is using me in this capacity. Sometimes I think about the early days leading worship with Common Ground Praise Band (1994-2001). We were such a cohesive team, with complementary strengths, each one of us a worship leader in our own right, and we shared that role on stage. My worship team now is growing together and we are getting to know each other more and respect one another’s unique contributions. Trust takes time, and I am pleased with our progress as a team. Nevertheless, as the leader, I am self-conscious of my own weaknesses, especially on stage. Whereas our previous worship leaders were strong in encouragement, prophecy and praise, I am an introverted, creative, teacher type. I am not a good cheerleader. My prayers are ineloquent and clumsy. I try to say as little as possible. In fact, most of my leading happens indirectly at home as I craft a worship set that flows thematically, theologically, and musically. On Sunday, I try to let the songs speak for themselves, and the Spirit through them. When I do talk, it is usually God-prompted. I am always amazed at how God will bring something to light from the songs on a Sunday morning that I never imagined when I was choosing the songs. The bottom line is, though I am quite aware of the tremendous room for growth I have, I love being able to lead a team, play music, and be useful for the kingdom every week.
This Autumn, with one year left until my eldest child enters kindergarten, my thoughts have turned to schooling options. Public school? Private school? Charter school? Home school? We will need to decide by year’s end so that we can be ready for enrollment. Until then, it has become clear that our kids are ready for a more structured preschool experience at home. So I have devised a new weekly schedule. It requires us to wake up earlier than we have in the past, which is an adjustment in itself. In theory, each morning will have a different academic and artistic focus (Bible and dance, language and literature, social studies and drama, math and music, science and visual arts). The afternoon will consist of reading through the Bible once section at a time, then quiet time reading and/or resting (Why won’t they nap anymore?). After that, it’s time for chores and a snack before mommy comes home from work. So far, I have started the new afternoon routine with them and have been taking one or two mornings out of the week to do some skill building with Kumon books. I have some other materials ready to implement and will phase them in soon. Although, I was once a day care teacher with my requisite 12 child development units, it seems so much more difficult when it is in my home with my kids. My job is to care for my kids and manage my household, which is a real challenge. Being task oriented, I always feel the need to do something, and it’s hard to stop, play and be present with the kids when I see laundry piling up. Also, as an introvert, I periodically need time away from people (kiddos are people) to recharge my batteries, but on most days the only time I get to myself is that half hour of quiet time in the afternoon (a convenient time to get something done). It is a challenge, but I rise to meet it every day, some days more energetically than others. I am thankful I get the chance to care for them and shepherd their souls in these early years of growth and discovery. I love my dear, precious kiddos and I am blessed to be their daddy.
So here I am, shedding one responsibility, yet shouldering two more. The door to ICSI is not entirely or permanently shut. There is the possibility of a continued writing ministry with board oversight. Actually, I’m really liking the idea of writing more. But how often, where, and toward what end? I have some ideas. But right now, I believe my focus needs to shift from making disciples through ICSI to simply being a disciple and discipling my family well. God is already directing me in new ways, which I hope to write about soon.