There are times when I get a little frustrated about how slowly tasks are being completed in both my personal and professional life, about a hot summer day dragging on and on, or anxiously waiting for a special event to arrive. I’ve had a love/hate relationship with Time since childhood. Fortunately, it’s become more peaceful as I’ve learned to manage my activities better, to pace myself through the days or years…and still I have more to learn.
When I was a kid my chore list seemed endless. To make things a bit more interesting, I would time myself to see how quickly I could get a particular task completed. As long as my efforts passed inspection the first time, I considered my work successful and my timing accurate. However, if I had to redo the task, the time was invalidated until the next attempt. For example, by the time I was 15 years old, I could clean a full bathroom, including tile walls, floors, fixtures, mirrors, counters and replace the towels, in less than 17 minutes AND pass mom’s inspection. The sooner I completed the chore list, the sooner I could move on to what I wanted to do.
I took this need for speed in my work to the corporate world. In particular, the area of marketing and sales support always seemed to have a critical time-based deadline to everything that needed to be done. I was a perfect fit and thrived in this environment for years. The skill to create documents and assorted materials within a short time limit still comes in handy on a weekly basis as a minister.
I’m grateful I have this ability to get things done so quickly and, in most cases, they still pass the critical eye of inspection without error. In the past 40 years I can recall only two times when I missed a specific deadline and faced the consequence of an unhappy boss or client. Funny how I remember those two disappointments and not the thousands of times I was successful.
Somewhere along the way I stopped using the stopwatch and started marking time by days, weeks, months and years. Things still get accomplished, projects are completed in a timely manner, and yet the urgency to get it all done today has slipped away. I’ve learned, through my years of working with a church behind the scenes and now as a church leader, that tasks do get done – some sooner than others. Yet, eventually, progressively, what is truly needed in the moment will be tended to and completed… until the next revision demands more.
The overall idea is that this church or spiritual community will be here for the duration or life of its members. It’s not going anywhere as long as we are attentive to what’s important – each other. So what’s the rush? It’s true that Sunday service comes around with amazing regularity, the bills and staff must be paid by a certain date, and materials need to be created for a planned workshop, meeting or event. Everything else will unfold in absolutely perfect timing… perfect unfoldment.
There’s a lot of Trust involved – in one’s self and those who share in the responsibilities. Trust that we’re all doing the best we can with what we have to work with. Trust that the most important tasks will be done first; the rest will be handled eventually. Trust that the “speed of church” efforts are different from the high-stress, demanding deadlines of my past, but still as effective. Trust that our organization is not suffering from lack of attention or love or care. Trust that balance and rest are as important as busyness and productivity. And Trust that we’re in the right place at the right time… right now… this moment… which is all the time we have anyway.