Can I make a confession – I mean, there’s just the two of us here.
I love so much of what I do in my job but, if there is one particular part of the job that I have never really liked, it has got to be the “recruiting.” I just don’t enjoy going to people with hat in hand (at least that’s what it feels like) and saying to them “Please, would you take on this job or fill this position for us.”
I think that what I mostly dislike about it (apart from the inescapable fear of rejection) is that the underlying message of the conversation usually seems to be the similar to what I referred to in my recent blog post:
“Because I’ve been doing it for thirty-five years,” she said impatiently, and I’m really tired. It is time for someone else to do it instead.”
In other words, the conversation is all about needs and people taking turns and how somebody needs to do something. It really isn’t about what actually matters.
That is why I am so happy about my recent “recruitment” efforts. Last month at St. Andrews we gave an opportunity for the entire membership to tell us who they thought should be elders and deacons by writing names of other members on ballots. Once all of the nominations were tallied, the task fell to me to contact the nominees in the order of the number of times their names had appeared. I wasn’t really looking forward to the job.
But, I’ve got to say, the whole thing was a real pleasure. I decided right away that I was not calling people in order to ask them to be deacons or elders. I was actually just calling them to tell them how much they were loved and respected by the people in the congregation. I was calling to tell them that their peers – their sisters and brothers in Christ – had perceived that they had special gifts and abilities that God could do great things with.
I was not calling them ask them to do anything. I did ask them if they were willing and able to respond to the calling of the congregation and of God but did not feel that I needed to pressure them at all.
To my surprise the process of filling the positions that the session had asked for (4 elders and 6 deacons) took about a month. But this was not because many people turned me down but merely because they (wisely and responsibly) needed to take time to think and reflect and pray before answering and in many cases (mostly because there were people nominated in both categories) I needed to wait to hear back from people before I could call further down the list. Though I was sometimes impatient to be done, as I look back on it, it really was a joyful experience.
In some ways it feels like it is a shame to stop calling now. There still remains a large number of people in the congregation who have been named – who have been identified as having special gifts and who are respected by the congregation — wouldn’t it be nice to tell them so?
But we do have to draw the line somewhere. So let me just celebrate the wonderful people that we have in this congregation – so many other them – and note that we are truly blessed.
I won’t post the names of the new deacons and elders here. We’ll announce them during worship once the session has added its approval.