Friday, June 24, 2011

Finding my voice...

I am sure some of you are wondering how I am surviving after jumping off the high dive of the pool.  It’s okay.  In some ways, it is better than last year, in other ways, not so much.  There are a lot I could say about dynamics.  There is a lot I could say about a “team” concept that doesn’t really exist.  There is a lot I could say about frustration.  Such as the high level of frustration I felt yesterday as we were told that much of what we’d already done and in my case, had been approved had to be redone to please another person.  It was all a matter of poor communication and “team” work on the part of the faculty.  Unfortunately, for my sake and those of my cohort mates, they didn’t hammer out their rules before they gave them to us.  Pretty sad for a program that is in its 14th year.

However, I’m still here.  I am sitting out the pedogological babble – for those of you not in education like me, that’s a bunch of teacher talk. God bless the teachers, I’m a natural teacher but I don’t work in the confines of public education, so I just don’t fit here.  PERIOD.  Fortunately, I am secure enough in myself to not feel obliged to pretend that I am OR be unduly troubled about being a fish out of water.

My goal is the degree.  My goal is to fulfill the ambitious quest of Dr. Joyce Johannesen Lighari.  That’s it.  All else is secondary.  I’m a horse, running in race whose only goal is the finish line. 

This morning I agonized over doing a devotional for the group while I am here.  Evidently our professor doesn’t like to do them.  So couched in a “more involvement” from the students, there was a plea for devotion leaders.  I do not feel that I have any authority in this group.  I also don’t like taking authority when it is not given.  So I wondered.  Should I?  Shouldn’t I?  I am the only religion major in this group. I am the only preacher.  Seems like a no brainer, but then there is the issue of reception. 

I thought about it.  I prayed about it.  I thought about it some more.  I put my name on the list for the last morning.  It came down to this.  Preaching and ministry is what I was born to do.  I am called for this.  I know that.  I may forget it at times.  I may be terribly frustrated at times.  However, this is my call.  Just like my cohort mates are mostly educators, this is what I do.  And little do they know or realize, I'm a pretty darn good preacher, teacher, and minister.  Who God calls He equips. 

I finally decided that it had nothing to do with authority given to me by the class, their perceptions, or any other superfluous distraction.  I have the authority of God to do what I do.  WHOA, I think that might be ready rather arrogantly or pretentiously – for those of you who don’t know me, you may be thinking, now isn’t she cocky?  No, I’m not.  I’m finally willing to step into the call of God regardless of circumstances.

Today, we did an exercise in class.  It was a really boring exercise on water district customer service – but at least it wasn’t classroom scenarios – at least we were all in the same boat, dealing with an area outside of our expertise.  As we looked at the flow chart to be analyzed, I spotted something immediately.  All those public administration class I took that show up nowhere on a transcript – all those years of administering public organizations, I knew something they didn’t.  To me it seemed like a fundamental and foundation flaw of the organization.  I voiced it.  I voiced it again.  I voiced it the third time.  I finally shut up.  The people in my small group had no desire to listen.

I waited.  I let it go.  I listened to their thoughts and contributed a little.  When the time came for class discussion, our table was asked a question.  All of a sudden, no one seemed to know what to say.  I did.  I regurgitated the discussion but didn't share my own thought.  There was no consensus on my thought and remembering my place, I was silent on that.  

As the discussion continued, I realized my contribution that had been ignored at the table was still churning in my head.  I raised my hand politely.  Recognized and given the opportunity (and authority) to speak, I shared my thought.  The teacher nodded.  She said that’s a really important comment.  I had found my voice.  I felt vindicated.  Someone at the table whispered, you should have said that before. I simply said, I tried.

I’m quiet.  Those of you who only know me through my preaching probably don’t see that.  But I am.  Today I was persistent about sharing my voice.  Next Friday, bags packed and ready to leave Trevecca, I’ll find it again.  Little do they know, the President of this institution once told me that my sermon was one of the best he'd ever heard... so, I'll share the gift and calling and my God given authority for ministry.

Do you hold back your gift?  Share it.  If you aren’t heard and recognized at first, keep trying. 

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