On-The-Job Training

Last month and this month Mr. Trump’s cabinet picks sat before respective Senate committees for interviews. It occurred to me that I’ve assumed that certain qualifications attach themselves to certain roles. I’ve thought this way about pastors and leaders in churches, hospitals, and graduate schools. These are the places where I spend my time, where I work. But I also believe that when it comes to other roles.

I realized as I turned off the news that I think there is massive room for growth any time a person takes a position. But, at the same time, there are some lessons that should be learned before accepting a role. There are some things you really should know. There are some classes one should have mastered before surrendering to a leading place of those same classrooms.

I believe in the experience of on-the-job training. I’ve lived it. For instance, I wasn’t an executive pastor before Sweet Holy Spirit made me one. I had no concept for restructuring loans and managing payroll and developing oversight committees from the membership for the health of that church. While providing pastoral care and teaching formation. While standing in when the pastor traveled 50% of the week. While maturing as a very young adult.

Sweet Holy Spirit, the context, cast those particular needs into view and called those new learnings forth from me. But I had completed graduate school. I had been in seminary while working there. I had been the closest student of the senior pastor for most of my remembered life. I had been through experiences that set me up to live with integrity in that learning and serving environment.

I wasn’t brand new. I was continuing in my on-the-job training after having been trained in other spheres. It’s true that where we’ve been stations us for what we’re doing and for where we’re headed. But when we take roles that are out of step with “where we’re headed,” the path is destructive; the process is painful; and the product is usually whatever you imagine as bad.

A Prayer For All Our School Starts

O God, you know “our ends from our beginnings” as my elders used to say.  You know our downsittings and our uprisings.  Our futures belong to you.  Our futures are with you.

Look ahead into this year and bless us with all the growth that would make you look good and make us look more like who we really are.

You know that this year will have shifts for us, changes to our schedules, and that we’ll need you, it seems, more than before.  We submit to you and how you’ll work through the long pulling that will come.

Call us and speak to us and journey with us.  Live in and through us so that we might bring light into darkness.

Give us grace that we might be full of love.  May our days begin and end with you and be punctuated by love and grace.

Where we will learn to write this year, give us ready pens and appointed words.  May the strokes coming from our fingers spell words that cause ourselves and others to flourish.

Where we will learn to count this year, make us ready to notice things, to add things to our lives what you bring and to patiently suffer through any subtraction for the loss it will be.

When we learn to work with others, make us prepared and mature enough to reconcile, to be humble, to practice silence even if it’s only holding that last word or that convincing, if sharp, retort.

When we listen, slow us down and open us to be so generous that what things people say and write and live become gifts which we cherish and steward and protect.

And finally, may you grant us these particulars:

That Bryce may have a fun year, one full of learning leaps like last time, loving his teachers and developing friendships with his classmates and collecting all those good words we say about him as a brilliant, beautiful, beloved boy.

May you grant Dawn the repeated remarkable brilliance of all her previous courses, giving her the steady help she needs as she prepares and sits for her comprehensive exam.

May you go with me daily into the learning rooms of the seminaries, into the peer work and ministry in the hospital, and into the regular course of growth that is my church ministry.

May we labor for you and with you and may we be marked with memorable moments we’ll never forget.  Will you change us for the better, sweetening me, preserving the best natures of my wife and son, and turning us continually toward you as a family.

For us all, give us an abiding sense of your presence, reminders of your unfailing nature, comments and signposts along each path that you are active, boldly bringing about healing for people, growth in us, and justice for the world.

Amen.