I have purposely not mentioned my job or any aspects of it in all my years of blogging. I don’t plan to do it again. This is an exception.
I have been at this job as church office administrator for over 11 years. I have seen the good, the bad and the ugly in a church’s life. I’m happy to report that the first outweighs the latter two by far.
This week I have been wondering whether I should switch on the auto-mode
and concentrate on the business side of this job. Check my emotions at the door before I enter the building and just do the job: answer calls, print the bulletin, do the data entry, book the rooms, write the necessary emails. Just do it. To be honest, I was nearly there. I almost switched on that auto-pilot…
But then God reminded me in a whole new way this week of the words the apostle Paul wrote to the church in Thessalonica:
“We loved you so much that we shared with you not only God’s Good News but our own lives, too.”
(1 Thessalonians 2:8 New Living Translation)
This office administrator job is not “just a job.” No, it’s so much more. I realized anew that behind every phone number that appears on the phone display is a person, a human being loved by God. Many times I’m the “first responder” to the amazing news of an engagement or a child’s birth. Other times people call to share about their job promotions or their excitement about an event their planning, their involvement in the community.
There are also times where I am the “first responder” in a crisis: when someone has been in a serious car accident, when death enters a family, or someone has been diagnosed with incurable cancer.
Why are these conversations hard? Because people have shared their lives with me, and I have shared parts of my life with them. A hug here, a handshake there, a smile and some encouraging words at other times.
I remember a gentlemen coming into the office to share his bad news about his cancer. The pastors weren’t in that morning, so we sat in my office, held hands and cried. Some months later I attended his funeral. It hurt because he had shared his life with me, and now he was gone.
Our church lost another saint this week. She is with Jesus. I could check my emotions at the door and do the job, go through the “funeral check list” all business like. But I can’t. This was a real person who loved this church, who invested and was actively involved in this church, who prayed for this church and for me personally.
This church is not the building, it’s the people who call this place their earthly spiritual home. It’s people who on a daily basis share not only “God’s Good News but their own lives, too.”
This week I felt God saying to me, “It’s ok to have emotions of love, of hurt in this job. It’s ok to not only do the admin side of this job, but also to share in people’s lives. It’s ok to give of yourself in this job.”
It has been, it still is and I pray it always will be my prayer that when a number shows up on the phone display or an email address appears in my inbox I will be willing to share in people’s lives, in their joys and in their sorrows. I pray I will never get to the point where I don’t care about the person behind that phone number or behind that email address.
I have experienced tremendous love and care from the people of this church. They have encouraged me in my walk of faith, they have prayed for me and my children. Over the years I had the privilege of sharing in the lives of those who crossed my path. I am joining the apostle Paul when he writes,
“We always thank God for all of you and pray for you constantly.
As we pray to our God and Father about you,
we think of your faithful work, your loving deeds,
and the enduring hop you have because of our Lord Jesus Christ.”
(1 Thessalonians 1:2-3)