A day in the life
I never know what a new day will bring in my life as a district a superintendent, so I begin each day with this prayer, “I rise from my bed of sleep to adore your holy name, to live for you this day, to work with you in the building of your kingdom, and to find in you eternal life. I consciously renew my calling this day, thanking you for the privilege of living my life in this way. I know that I need to take care of myself if I am to be of any use to those I am called to serve. Grant me grace to walk in health and wholeness this day, and thank you that I can live today knowing that I am your beloved. Amen.”
It’s Monday morning. I send a few emails and make several last tweaks to my weekly blog. Rushing out the door for a 9 a.m. Smart Room cabinet meeting via video conferencing, I forget my phone, turn around, and go back.
This is the first time we’ve held a cabinet meeting in this way, and it works! It’s not the same as meeting face to face, but Mark Doyal, our Director of Communications, informs us that by using the Smart Room for 2 meetings today we are saving a combined 22 hours of drive time, approximately $770 in mileage, and 1,700 pounds of CO2 emissions by not using cars. The technology cost $138.
I eat soup at my desk for lunch, make a few phone calls to clergy, and talk to my brother about a doctor’s appointment my father had this morning in Pennsylvania.
At 1 p.m. we have a full cabinet meeting back in the Smart Room. We discuss the life of the conference, from the camping program, to the Vital Church Initiative, to ministry shares, to property matters.
At 3:15 p.m. I make more phone calls in my office and talk to my daughter in Seattle about a box of expensive books that I sent her a month ago. The books never arrived, and I failed to insure them. Sigh.
At 4:15 p.m. our Grand Rapids District Leadership Council has an energizing and hopeful meeting where we flesh out the 4 goals of our strategic plan: encouraging all churches to create a plan for welcoming and following up on guests; providing resources for technology in local churches; strengthening our connection with the GVSU Wesley Fellowship, and creating a plan of intentional spiritual formation in the district. What a joy to be in ministry with so many committed and talented clergy and laity!
We approve the 2013 budget to be presented at the district conference, celebrate the presence of 300 people at our district training event, discuss the beginning of the Vital Church Initiative in the fall, and look forward to Bishop’s Day. We hear an update on our district Africa University Ubuntu Gathering project and rejoice that we have reached the $400,000 mark. There is so much energy that almost everyone stays a half hour after the meeting over to connect, dream, and strategize. I am mindful of our district vision, Growing Together, Reaching Out, and our mission to “connect and support vital ministries of Jesus Christ.”
Gary is leaving for an evening meeting when I arrive home, so I eat dinner while making arrangements for a pastor to take a 2 month health leave. 6 phone calls later we are all set, and I am deeply grateful for supportive Staff Parish Relations Committees and churches that can keep vital ministry going while their pastor is on leave.
I talk with another pastor who is recovering from surgery and a third pastor who is discouraged because of a conflict in the church. I finish the day by writing a seminary reference that is due tomorrow.
It’s been a very intense day, and I am acutely aware of my inability to fulfill all of the roles that are expected of superintendents. I remember the words of Roshi Joan Halifax, “May I see my own limits with compassion, just as I view the limits of others.”
I am deeply grateful for the opportunity to be a part of the building of God’s kingdom here in West Michigan and thank God again for the privilege of living my life in this way. I read the newspaper, entrust the day and night to God, and lay down my head to sleep.
Rev. Laurie Haller, Grand Rapids District Superintendent