This was a good week for doing work but I am not sure how much real, tangible growth I had spiritually this week. I certainly gained a greater respect for my Bishop this week after our meeting Thursday evening. I also met again with the member who I spoke for during his baptism two weeks ago, he’s an interesting case to say the least. This was also my first week serving as Assistant Mission Leader in my congregation and that gave me some additional items of work. I feel like as a congregation and personally, there is growth as far as the work that is happening, but that my growth spiritually is stagnant, possibly because I am not working on it as much as I should.
I have known my Bishop since my wife and I moved into our current Ward (congregation). He was the first assistant to the previous Bishop when we got here and he and I get along quite well because we have a lot of shared interests. I have a new respect for him as a Church servant after Thursday night, however. The mission leader and I had to meet with him. Our appointment was scheduled for 8:30pm but his previous appointments ran late and we did not get in until about 9:35. We did not finish until 10:45. During all that time, even though he had worked until 5pm, had likely not been home since 6am when he left for work, he gave us his undivided attention and continued to work through all the plans and ideas we had for the mission effort. I am not certain I would have been so easy going during the whole process. That is probably something I should be willing to work on going forward, since those times will almost certainly happen to me in professional ministry.
On Wednesday, we met with our newly baptized member to teach him part of a series of lessons for the recently baptized. We showed him a video about temples, which are fairly unique to our faith. After the lesson, we spoke with him and he basically told us about how bad his life is, how it has been bad for weeks, and he does not anticipate it getting better. This is the same person we met with a few weeks ago and I mentioned I did not go into details about our conversation for “obvious reasons;” sorry for that word usage, I simply meant I was not sharing because I considered this to be a private conversation, much like you meeting with a member of your congregation. That week, I was worried about him. This week the feeling was different because the conversation was the same as the prior one. I have the feeling that this man simply refuses to see the good that is in his life. He has a good job, not a ‘get-rich’ job but a good one, he is healthy, has food on the table, and all the needs of life, but he sees only the bad parts because he used to work at a power plant in Saudi Arabia (perhaps he should be thankful he is not there?) making more money than he makes now, so sees nothing good in his present situation. I hate to say this, but he’s like a living version of Eeyore from Winnie the Pooh. He mentioned to us that he had stopped praying because he did not feel his prayers would be answered. I eventually just told him that I felt like he needed to just kneel down and pray whatever was on his mind, get angry, ask why he is doing good things and still has all these challenges, and just generally ask why God is letting this happen. I would not normally tell someone to say that, but felt that given his situation, it would benefit him to simply air our everything in such a situation. This is interesting given my own personal thoughts right now in that I do not think his situation is somehow God’s fault or that God is putting all sorts of challenges in his life but that this is simply something that happens and is really outside of God’s control because this is our mortal world. But I did not tell him that.
Finally, I took over two weeks ago as Assistant Ward Mission Leader. This is a fairly unique position in that it is in the manual as an optional position but is rarely filled because it is usually not needed. My duties in the Ward as part of this class made it a reasonable fit for me. Part of this will be working to create our Ward Mission Plan for 2014, how we will work to introduce more people to our church, how we will reach out to the community, and how we want to get families involved in the process. I will write out much of this and present it to leadership tomorrow, hopefully they are accepting of our plan. I am also more involved with missionary planning, we have three pairs of men (Elders ages 18-22) and one pair of ladies (age 19-20). It is an interesting dynamic the mission leader and I have. He is very laid back, does not like to say anything that might annoy others, and things of that nature. I tend to say whatever is on my mind, especially if I believe it to be correct. This morning we had our weekly meeting with all the missionaries and we were discussing the members who are on our Ward rolls but have no known address or phone number. The mission leader asked if it was possible for the missionaries to look up members using computers at the church building. One of the sister missionaries said (rightfully, in my mind) that it is not their job to look up that information, but the members job. The mission leader asked something to the effect of could they look up one or two a week to show members that they are working? I said in response that if the members would actually go out with the missionaries then they would know how much work is being done. Perhaps I should work on being gentler in conversation.
This coming week I hope to really dedicate myself to following one or two of the disciplines from Celebration of Discipline. I think I get too busy trying to do work with the church, school work, and other things that I forget to study and be dedicated to growing my own spirituality. I am going to be sure to take at least thirty minutes a day to do that this week.