|Earlier days - in the office.|
Quite a few things have changed since the day in 1995 when I pulled into the F. family's driveway and began my new life here. Our organization grew into something that felt quite different, and then it disintegrated and shut down. I kept my job but became part of something bigger, based elsewhere. The ache of loss was fierce. Still, I knew I wasn't the same person I was 15 years ago, that I'd reached a different stage. I'd been well equipped for life at the edge of the wheel, by now. And even at the edge, technology had made such changes in the way people work and stay in touch that geography and office hours no longer seemed so critical.
As my sabbatical came to a close I wondered if this was a time to make a sea change: maybe take on more responsibilities in a smaller organization, for example. (Maybe get closer to the center of a wheel?) I had several, attractive pseudo-offers and could probably have converted them into actual offers - though I was skittish about leading anyone on, or at least more than one at a time!
But I'd also realized that this would be a good time to continue my education, and I didn't want to take on more than I could handle or create expectations or dependencies I couldn't keep up with. Plus, taking classes would probably require a healthy allowance of vacation time, and I didn't think anyplace else would be in the position to give me the four weeks a year to which I'm entitled currently. Even if I didn't get that much, well, our organization is quite flexible. And they happen to have some helpful connections to the two schools to which I'm applying, one of which will give those of us who meet certain qualifications a 50% discount on tuition.
So, go to school part time, stay with my organization, keep doing what I'm doing and a bit more. Not heaps more; don't want to get overextended. But I'm a little bored and feel underutilized. I want something to sink my teeth into. And I want to be part of a team.
I had a hunch that the best place for me, in our organization, would be the group called the Church Partnerships Team. Not so much for what they do - though I'm good with that - but for who they are, what they care about, and how they work. I've been talking to the team leader and made him a proposal which he accepted, offering me a place on the team doing, ahem, "special projects."
We had our first conference call meeting this week. I'm not sure everyone knew I was interested in joining them - there was some joking about not getting to vote - but they seemed glad to welcome me in. And, as the call went on, I saw my hunches validated. These guys do have a healthy team, with a good level of grace, trust, camaraderie, and collaboration.
There are nine of us: three in the home office, six of us in different parts of the country. So they've had some experience working as a diffused team, and it looks like they've found some effective, appropriate ways to make that work. They also knew how to hold a meeting in a way that honors all participants, invites rapport, and uses time wisely. Good.
They're pretty seasoned in ministry but not arrogant; they seem flexible and servant-hearted. I think they will push me (and help me) to collaborate, use my time wisely, and keep my commitments, without loading on pressure or structures that don't make sense.
I think they will treat me like an equal, and a valued colleague, but still be happy to teach me and help me grow. Just what I was hoping for. I'm looking forward to working together.
And because they are closer to the hub of the organizational wheel, I think I'll feel a greater sense of belonging as well. If I want to move to Florida or spend more time there they'd welcome me, but with the way the team operates and the kinds of work that will come my way there will be no pressure to do so.
We will get together in Florida twice a year. The meetings are pegged to a forum they hold several times a year. The next one is in just a few weeks. I'll be there.
I'm so pleased to have a team.