My wife and I are fundamentally different. Insightful to you all, yes I know. But beyond the obvious differences, we think differently. Nowhere is this difference more obvious than in our car rides together. I’m usually driving because I’m a control freak. She’s gracious enough to let me – given our driving records (hers is impeccable; mine pushes the envelope of being insurable), she should probably be the one behind the wheel.
While driving we have these long periods of silence as both of us are in thought. After about 5 minutes without chatter, I typically feel the need to ask her what is on her mind. Today was no different. We were on our way back from the park, and a few minutes without conversation passed. I asked what she was thinking.
“How hungry I am, and whether I’m going to wear my white top or my blue top to the restaurant tonight,” she replied. “What were you thinking about?”
“The next ten years of budgeting our finances and how I am going to get into that Ph.D. program,” I answered.
She and I laughed. She’s usually in the here and now. I’m always thinking way ahead. She’s action-oriented around what needs to be done today. I’m visionary for the next twenty years. Perhaps such is the reason that we make a good team.
On the most recent Grey’s Anatomy (don’t ask… my wife makes me watch it), the doctors vying for the Chief position are all asked for their plan for the hospital. Many have a “ten year plan.” But the one doctor that presents a “right now plan” is the one who most impresses the hiring board.
There is a lot of hoopla surrounding vision statements and long-term planning at churches. It seems to be a hot topic. And, for the most part, such planning is a healthy approach to shepherding the church body.
But for every ten-year strategic vision there also needs to be a here and now plan. While great vision is required to guide the church into the future, everyday soldiers are needed to fulfill the immediate needs and mission of the church.
One of my personal struggles as a pastor is having an eye for the here and now. I can have church far-sightedness at times, seeing the future but being fuzzy on tomorrow. The church certainly needs more visionaries, but vision will never be accomplished without the day-by-day work.
I can’t tell you how many times church members have surprised me. I walk into a room on Monday and see it has been painted over the weekend. My secretary tells me that ‘so-and-so’ came in and just did it. I look around the corner and see new garbage cans. I’m told that ‘so-and-so’ put them in. Every Wednesday tables just appear magically in our fellowship hall for Bible study. When I come in on Thursday morning, they are put away so our day school can use the room. Every now and then, someone will come into my office with a phone number. “I won them to the Lord on Monday, pastor. Will you give them a call?”
I praise God for these faithful servants living in the here and now. For without them, God’s will could not be accomplished. And without them, the vision for the church would only be a daydream.