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Recognizing Resilience: Thank God! (No Really…)
I thank my God every time I remember you, constantly praying with joy in every one of my prayers for all of you, because of your sharing in the gospel from the first day until now. I am confident of this, that the one who began a good work among you will bring it to completion by the day of Jesus Christ. -Philippians 1:3-6

What did you appreciate about each other?

We all have our own ways of showing appreciation, but sometimes, there’s no substitute for hearing it verbalized.

(Quoted from the Prepare-Enrich article linked here.)

Where shall I even begin? During the 2021 calendar year, I joined thirty-something other pastoral leaders from across the country in an initiative called, Thriving In Ministry. As part of the project, we were assigned cohort groups of 5 or 6 peers. Each month we met with the large group for webinars and topically based conversations; and we met with the cohort groups to process the information we were learning in addition to being a support network for one another. I was truly blessed to be in a cohort group with 4 of my closest friends from seminary. Over the course of the year, the five of us would share our worries, our frustrations, and our joys with one another. As you can imagine, the challenges shared were significant. The frustrations were real and often dominated our designated hour together (as you may imagine during the second year of a global pandemic). At one point in the year, we were asked to use a scale to indicate our current stress level. I won’t disclose where everyone in my group located themselves. What I will disclose is that I was the only one who was honestly able to say that I was actually enjoying my work and didn’t feel like I was near a breaking-point with church-pandemic-related stress. I give God and you all the credit for that. 

I listened to my friends talk about their stressors and when it became my turn to share, the facilitator asked a different question.  Chrissy, he said, You indicated you’re not super stressed. Why don’t you tell us why? What is working in your context that is enabling you to place yourself where you did? 

After taking in the chorus of complaints (legitimate ones, for sure!) my friends had just shared, I found myself overwhelmed with gratitude for you. And it was a joyous occasion to be able to share that joy with my friends. It is only now that I’m realizing, I never shared it with you. 

So here it goes: 

I appreciate your spirit of creativity and flexibility.

You are so understanding when the staff and lay leadership has to make a difficult decision. You have shown grace beyond measure as we have navigated together so many compounding changes. We’ve had conversations about necessary changes to budget, staff, office hours, worship hours, masking, worshiping online, meeting online, worshiping in person, meeting in person, employing hybrid solutions, making plans and then canceling or re-working those same plans… through it all, you have been kind, understanding, and gracious. What’s more, you have also been creative and willing thought partners as we have tried to find new solutions for challenges that seem to emerge constantly. There is a sacred refusal to give up on this church and the calling that God has entrusted to us to minister to our community. No matter what, you all are committed to one another. No matter what, you all are committed to our shared ministries. 

For that, and for you, I give God thanks. 

I appreciate your relationship skills.

When I talk about Greystone, I often tell people that relationship is your super power. You all understand how to care for one another and how to be family together. In the last couple of years, you have gone above and beyond to remind Justin, Mia, and me that we are a part of your family. Sometimes this comes as a card in the mailbox, sometimes a gift or baked good left on the front porch. Sometimes it’s a phone call or text saying: Just wanted to check on you. Sometimes it’s a word of encouragement when something in worship speaks to you. Sometimes it’s a social media post where you share publicly about how God is at work here in this church. These actions remind me of your care for me. 

For that, and for you, I give God thanks. 

I appreciate your incredible talents.

There is no doubt about it, Greystone is a church full of gifted people. We have musicians, artists, writers, technicians, sound volunteers, and chefs. We have folks who are talented with children and others with senior adults. We have members who are gifted in administration and seeing an idea come to fruition. No matter the task, we’ve got members who are especially gifted and willing to give what they can to get the job done. This gives me confidence in our ability to meet any challenge that comes our way. It truly is amazing to see what God has accomplished through each and every one of you – even in a pandemic! You are gifted people.

For that, and for you, I give God thanks. 

I appreciate your generosity.

I recently had an opportunity to look at a summary of the ways you have given above and beyond in 2021. This specific indicator was about financial giving but it is only a small piece of the generosity you all displayed in a very challenging year. In addition to giving money, you gave time, you gave talents, you gave boldly and generously to ensure that the mission and ministries of this church could carry on. 

For that, and for you, I give God thanks. 

I could go on and on, but Anna Beth tells me that shorter blog posts are better blog posts. So I am going to stop here. I hope you know that I, your pastor, am immensely grateful for you. I consider it an honor, a privilege, and really a dream that you have allowed me to minister alongside you for just over three years now. I truly do give God thanks for you today and every day we have together. 

Thank you for this gift. 

And thank God for you!