I spoke to a friend and colleague today on the phone. He's been in ministry for a long time and has a lot of experience with pastoral planning and change. He's seen it all. He has a glancing knowledge of what's going on here in our area, and has done some work with our staff to help us get our house in order as we look to the future of collaboration. He called to check in on me today.
He asked me what I'll do if my job goes away, whether I (we) would be willing to move somewhere to take a good job, and how my resume's coming along. How's that for comforting?? He's right, though, we need to start having those conversations. I've been so concerned with what might happen in the next 6 months or year that I haven't really spent any time in prayer or thought about that 5-year future, and beyond. He offered this advice, as someone who's "been there-" he said, whether or not you know you'll have a job in the future, act as if you do. He was basically saying "be here, now."
Our staff met this week to look ahead and make some decisions for the future, and our pastor reminded us that we should not consider him as a variable in the decision-making process. That is, he doesn't know if he'll be with us here or not. The tricky part is, then, that we can't know if we'll be here or not. No matter what, it seems, it all will come down to who will be our pastor. If the new pastor likes what we've done, or isn't ambitious, or isn't concerned with (if you'll excuse me) peeing on the trees here, then he might leave things in their current state, support our work, encourage us to keep developing along our current track. But if someone comes along who thinks our faith formation model is bogus, or who has a beloved staff from his former parish who would be happy to work with him again, or who thinks that Youth Ministry is not a reasonable budget item, we'll have to hit the road.
So we wait, and try to read the signs, pray for discernment, try to be proactive, and live here, now.