Strange being in this “in-between” place where we have made another big decision to change the course of our lives by taking a Call to another community 3000km’s away from where we have been serving for 8 years.
This kind of decision is nothing new to us or many people from many different walks of life. Half the people I know have made these huge decisions – people like the many South Africans or Zimbabweans who have left their home country to make a new life in Australia; or the many teaching staff who have left their home to come and work in Dalyellup, or the many rural people who long ago, packed up the truck and drove the long Nullarbor road a generation ago to settle on virgin land in the WA wheat belt…… Sometimes life and living it with a responsiveness to people, church, country and God demands these big decisions that bring big change.
This is the second time that my wife and I have packed up our lives and moved away from our home country to South Australia. The first time was in 1989. Now 22 years later, we are doing the very same thing! Then we were a young married couple. I was ready for adventure and Leanne was rather more unconvinced about “adventure”. But, she came and we went and the rest is history.
Now we leave with three of our four children in tow a little more money and better furniture and a joint will to live the next chapter of our lives.
Similar doubt about our ability to cope and do well appear. I left WA in 1989 to take up a youth worker job in a large inner city Lutheran Church (Bethlehem, Flinders Street, Adelaide CBD). I had little idea of what I was walking in to! Such a different church culture and experience. So large compared to the smallness of WA (church wise). So many more people, some supportive, some not. So many more opportunities for friendship, seeing new places, learning more about my profession (Youth Work)….
After 12 years in two places “out on the rim” of the LCA (Auckland and Bunbury), it feels a little similar to what it felt like back in 1989. So many opportunities for new relationships, new challenges in terms of my Calling, more possibilities for learning from mentors and strangers…..
This Calling is a senior pastor role and that is daunting. It is a new dynamic I will have to learn – not just diving in and leading by doing all the time, as one needs to do in a smaller setting, but leading in a different way – present but not always immediately hands on; leading by gathering and inspiring (hopefully!) and working with others who lead…… It will be a steep learning curve to not go with the instincts learnt over the last 12 years in the ordained ministry.
But life is really one big steep learning curve isn’t it? You actually learn the most about yourself, your close relationships, when you are under the pump the most. In the moment you don’t even know what you are learning, but later it becomes apparent, if you take the needed time to reflect on what has happened, that is.
So, I find myself doing plenty of this reflecting time. It just seems the right thing to do.