Tag Archives: Resolutions

Prospectus

 

Looking forward into 2018 I am hopeful. I am trying to make some changes that can make the upcoming year productive and enjoyable. Much like a prospectus informs potential investors of enterprise so they can be informed of what to expect as they invest in it, this prospectus is for the investment of my time, talents, and financial resources to try to accomplish my personal, creative and professional goals going into 2018.

Professional

  1. One of my strongest talents is my ability to teach, particularly adults, and I have invested a lot of time over the last several years in topics I have found rich and rewarding: whether looking at some of the Biblical Studies I have done or work on developing as a person and a leader. I will develop at least two opportunities to share this work (one will be on the book of Exodus which I finished last year) with those who are interested.
  2. I believe that one of the roles church can play in our society is as a place where deep meaning making conversations can be had and dialogue can be modeled. Starting this spring, I plan to do a monthly conversation around issues either in the congregation or in the community. This January I am doing an Interfaith dialogue with Muslim and Jewish faith leaders on issues of sexual harassment and assault after the #metoo movement and how places of faith can be supportive to victims.
  3. I am a good leader and pastor, but I also feel it would be beneficial to have an outside person to consult with as a coach who can challenge and affirm me in my ministry. I am not sure whether this will be someone through the ELCA coaching network or through the Daring Way methodology, but I do think this would be an asset for my growth in the coming year.
  4. I am involved in a lot of different functions as a leader: in my congregation, in my conference and synod, and as the leader for Frisco’s Interfaith community and I realize I need to spread out some the responsibility for these groups. Interfaith is already forming a leadership team so that everything does not fall on my shoulders, but I also plan to be intentional in these other areas in asking other leaders to be responsible for planning and leading parts of what I have done on my own in the past.
  5. My final professional goal has to do with communicating expectations for both my staff, my congregation, and then holding them to those expectations. I found myself dealing with minute details and repetitive tasks that should have been other’s responsibilities last year and rather than let something fail I would shoulder additional responsibility to make things work. I think that my role this year needs to take a step back and work on communicating expectations rather than stepping in to tasks that others are equipped and responsible for doing.

Creativity/ Writing

  1. My schedule has been erratic this year for various reasons, but my desire is to get back into a rhythm where I can spend some time with poetry and other creative writing. Part of my solution for this is a weekly prompt which may come from one of the several online prompts of some of the ideas I wrote down while considering this year like: The four horsemen of the apocalypse (4 prompts based on the characters inspired by the book of Revelation and 4 on Gottman’s 4 horsemen of the apocalypse in relationships), the seven forbidden words (the words supposedly not to be used in the EPA), and then the 7 deadly sins. Also, some of my best poetry has been inspired by other great poems (like To Catch an Albatross which owes its genesis to the Ancient Mariner by Samuel Taylor Coleridge) so to take something like Edgar Allan Poe’s ‘The Raven’ and see what ideas come in response.
  2. The one things I have kept reliable is my (almost) weekly reflection on a passage from scripture and I will continue this. Currently I am on Psalm 33 and will go through Psalm 41 (which ends book one of the Psalter) before starting a new book. Not sure which book will be next, I will pick after I complete Psalm 35.
  3. Reading: Oh, there is so much I would love to read and so little time. I am satisfied with the amount I read and what I read. I would love to find another graphic novel series that could serve, like Sandman did in 2017, as a nice break between longer books at home but I have a lot on my shelves awaiting my attention. I would probably benefit from either introducing more poetry, either through books or through a periodical, into my reading cycle.
  4. I enjoyed having an online learning process like the Wisdom of Story and Daring Greatly done through Brené Brown’s Courageworks website (now brought under brenebrown.com) and as I’ve looked at options for this year I think Brave Leaders, Inc. may be my next distant learning opportunity/certification.

Personal

  1. Physically I have set myself the goal of getting down to 202 lbs., which is a drop of 5 lbs. over the year. This shouldn’t be too difficult, and I know what modifications I need to make to accomplish and maintain this goal. I also have set the goal of running 500 miles over the year (which is approximately 10 miles a week).
  2. Pairing with this first goal I will need to take care of my body by doing things like replacing shoes more frequently, controlling my diet more (one of the struggles as a pastor is the number of times when food is involved in gatherings and the temptation to eat in a way that is unhealthy), and continuing to build my core and leg strength to help prevent injuries.
  3. I have enjoyed my garden the past two years and one of my goals is to add a second bed to expand my garden for this year.
  4. I know that resources are limited, for the beginning of the year especially, so I will need to be selective in which events I go to. But I know that musicals and concerts are very important to both myself and Carissa and are things that feed both of our souls.
  5. I need to schedule some of my breaks early. In the past two years I have let everyone else’s schedule dictate the times I could take vacations. Ultimately I need to take advantage of the time I have been given for rest and renewal so that I can be creative professionally and enjoy the time that I have with family.

Retrospectus

So perhaps I am creating a new word as I try a new practice. For a lot of people, they craft New Year’s resolutions but I am trying a two-part movement of looking back and looking forward and attempting to make an honest evaluation of what happened so that my plan going into 2018 can be based on an evaluation of where I am and where I have been. So, the first part of this I’ve called a retrospectus, a document looking back, and the second part will be a prospectus which is a plan going forward.

Retrospectus 2017

2017 was a challenging year, a good year in many respects, hard in several others and full of unexpected twists and turns.

Professionally: This was a year where it felt like a lot of weight fell on my shoulders. It isn’t that I was alone or I didn’t have other people working with me on various projects, but as a leader it was a year that tested my resilience. It was a year that started full of expectations, we completed the design of the expansion for my congregation and there was a lot of optimism beginning the year. One of the points of drag was the approval process with the city of Frisco. In fairness, due to the sale of some land and the necessity to re-zone our property in addition to having to resubmit both an updated site plan in addition to the plans for expansion it was a complicated set of things going on (while at the same time having the plans and approval process for a stealth cell tower going on at the same time). What was expected to be a six to eight-week process of approval dragged out into almost nine months, much of that time I had very little power to impact the speed of the process. The delay in time also led to an increase in cost of almost $200,000 because of material cost increases over the period. For those who don’t know about the Frisco/McKinney area it is one of the fastest growing areas in the United States and because of that resources like concrete and steel continue to climb in cost due to the regional demand. We the funds available to cover the original cost of expansion but the increase meant working with our lender to secure a loan for the additional costs. In many respects each hurdle wasn’t difficult to pass but it was the sheer number of hurdles that came up before we ever broke ground that seemed to sap some of the energy and enthusiasm of the project. We finally broke ground in the summer and the project was moving along when we reached the next delay prior to pouring the foundation. As I mentioned briefly above we had two projects going on at the same time, the expansion in addition to the construction of a cell tower site (designed to look like a bell tower). The cell tower company was supposed to reroute the sewer lines to go around both the tower and the expansion, but the lines were twelve feet underground, and the ground after about six to eight inches is rock. They built their tower without moving the line and the city of Frisco wouldn’t allow our expansion to continue until the line was moved. This delayed us for another four to six weeks, but the sewer line was eventually rerouted, the work commenced and going into 2018 the project still has some ways to go but we can see the end in sight and I know I am excited to see the end of the process. The crew working on the expansion has been great, but it is impossible for an ongoing construction and renovation process not to impact the life of a congregation.

I also felt like I never got a break this year. Normally summer is a time where I can reset after one year before going into the next but in addition to the building project several other challenges prevented me from doing so. One was staffing related. I only have two additional staff members that are present during the week: one admin and one youth minister. The month of June my admin was unavailable while she was pursuing her passion in opera in New York City, and so the month of June I was doing both my normal roles (with the building project) and ensuring that her portion of the work to prepare the congregation for worship was also done each week. During the same time my youth minister was married and on his honeymoon. Later in the summer my youth minister’s new wife had surgery which had a very extended recovery so through most of the summer I had him available sporadically. Then in the fall my youth minister availability was limited due to Clinical Pastoral Education, a part of his seminary process where he works in a hospital. Finally, in December, for the first two weeks, my administrator was in New York again to perform in an opera during one of the busiest times in the church year. Through the second half of the year it felt like an additional burden of keeping the church going fell upon my shoulders. I was able to take a few breaks in the fall, but ultimately it was a year where I never found a rhythm of rest to go along with the periods of increased work.

Finally, one of the last professional stressors was that in the summer, for the first time, the congregation began to experience some financial stress. Rejoice is a community that deals with a lot of transition and the previous couple of years were heavier than most of the congregation’s life. The congregation had seen approximately 1/3 of its membership move out of the area in less than two years. We had done a lot of things to build in some financial resilience for the congregation, but this level of transition had us seeing negative balances regularly at the end of the month for the first time in the four year I had served them. Construction impacts attendance as well as the number of new families that visit or stay with a congregation. It was a time when I had to evaluate my own leadership. We made some hard choices, but I feel optimistic about the future for the congregation and some of the directions we set at the end of the year.

There were a lot of cool things professionally this year: Probably my favorite was the beginning of an Interfaith group for the Frisco area. Even though I felt called to do this I wanted for someone else to begin and lead this. Ultimately, I stepped out and placed the idea before some other leaders. It has been a phenomenal group to be a part of and to lead. I also started as Dean of my conference, the churches of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America in the Northern suburbs of Dallas up to the Oklahoma border. I also was asked to be a part of one of the advisory committees for Frisco ISD. I’ve enjoyed having a more public presence in the community although at times it does feel like a challenge to keep everything organized.

Writing: I enjoy writing but with all my other commitments in my professional and personal life this year it seems like I didn’t write as much as in previous years. I can tend to be a little overly ambitious sometimes, but writing is one of those activities that I am proud of. There are a couple of really interesting pieces this year. My personal favorites were Djinn’s Warning and To Catch an Albatross. Trying to write some light fiction using my dogs as characters was good (and I realize there are a few holes in the story) but it took a lot of time to write each chapter-but I enjoyed particularly chapters two and three of Shimar the Pirate dog. I also use writing as a part of my learning process to grow in my knowledge as a pastor. This year was primarily spent with the book of Exodus, and I learned a lot from this. It is a longer book, and one that many people know portions of but I know I gained some insights from this process of working through Exodus. Overall there were approximately seventy items written in addition to the weekly sermons, normal publications for church related items, etc. Yet, I feel like some of my creativity has dropped off but I have some ideas for the prospectus side of this.

Personal: I am very blessed to be married to Carissa and even though this was a tough work year for both of us I enjoy the time we are able to spend together. At this point we have been married for 2 ½ years and I am glad she was willing to come join me in this crazy life. The big change for me this year was my son starting college at the University of Central Oklahoma this fall. I have been the primary caretaker and guardian for Aren since 2009, with Jessica living with her mom in Oklahoma. It has been different not adjusting my schedule around his schedule and there are times where the house is quieter than I am used to. I am proud of him but the transition was harder on me than I anticipated. I have paid for his first year of college and that in itself is an accomplishment. Carissa and I went to a number of concerts and musicals this year and I finally went to a (now) LA Chargers game, which I had wanted to do for years. It was an expensive year with needing to put a new roof on my house after the April hail storms and then having my furnace die at Christmas, but I have a new roof on my home and a new HVAC system and somehow have continued to make it all work.