Time zips by as retirement approaches. My mind swirls around important church needs and an unusually high intrusion of personal needs into my thinking space.
And then there is email.
I have friends and colleagues with hundreds and thousands of unread emails in their inbox. I can’t do that. Having massive numbers of unread emails/texts/apps to update just messes with my brain. They become a nagging “to-do” lists for me, so I routinely keep those things as cleaned up as possible.
This morning I started my routine clean-up, deleting 90% of today’s emails, answering the personal ones, and putting a few aside that have stories I want to look at later or are related to tasks that will take more than a couple of minutes each.
As I sorted and deleted, I realized that many of the emails I receive are from lists offering various worship aids that I have signed up for over the years.
It’s time to stop receiving those. I had rarely looked at them anyway, but worship is planned out now through the end of my tenure here. The first service in January with the new pastor is also sketched out in order to ease the transition. And then . . . well, I start wondering about the structure of my life.
I’ve formed a rhythm that worked for me and it revolved around worship planning. From the months-out planning, to the weeks-out filling in to the weekly finalizing, worship has centered my life.
Soon, I will no longer find my time structured by the weekly work, and weekly joy, of that kind of study, prayer, collaboration, creation, and implementation of three weekly worship services.
I am going to miss this very much.
And this email clean out represents just a small part of the major clean-out that must take place. I look at my office with some despair. My life-long battle with paperwork shows far greater evidence of failure. I think of my own dreams of leaving files and reports in such good shape that the one appointed after me will mentally thank me every time she/he searches for information. Right.
Note: My worship director and I have decided to refer to the next pastor here as “It” since it does get so awkward to keep using the “he/her” construction and we simply have no clue who It will be. So, from now on It has taken on that meaning in these meanderings.
So, for the Charge Conference, I asked all our ministry leaders to write up especially careful, one-page reports describing the ministry, its impact on the community, both within and without the church, and how that ministry fits within the larger mission of the church to make disciples. It was when I did this that it began to dawn on me just how many different ministries we have–and how much life flows from this fairly small church.
I want It to see this, to see why we do what we do. Or why they do what they do, for it will no longer be “we” in just three months. And two days.