Yesterday we had a lovely Easter dinner with two families from the church. The food was great and it was nice to be together in an informal setting to relax and celebrate the Resurrection.
After dinner the conversation turned to age and one of the folks at the table, whom I know relatively well, guessed my age as late twenties. While it is certainly flattering, it is a little bit frustrating to constantly be thought to be younger than I am. (As you blog readers know from my birthday post, I am a proud 36!) I think I have grown and matured and changed with age ~ both as a person and as a pastor. I am proud of my nearly eleven years of service in Christian ministry. While there are benefits to being thought of as younger, it sometimes seems my appearance overshadows my experience.
Lately I've been reflecting on my work style and am noticing some changes. When I was new to pastoral ministry (at 25) planning ahead was not one of my gifts. I rarely looked more than a Sunday ahead. Bible Studies were prepared on the fly hours (or even minutes) before they were to start. Over the years I've become a much better planner. While at my last appointment I made worship plans months ahead. Confirmation classes were planned at least a week in advance. Bible Studies were developed with plenty of time to spare. However, I was still very much a Saturday sermon-writer.
These days I've been working hard at finishing my sermon on Thursdays. And I find I really like not having that stressful Saturday night. For a long time my excuse was that I needed the adrenaline to make it happen, but I am finding that not to be the case. This past Holy Week the changes in my work style really became evident.
I actually started working on my Holy Week services back in February. The Maundy Thursday and Easter Sunrise services and sermons were done before Holy Week. I finished my Easter Sunday Service on Thursday. I even had some time on Thursday to work ahead on our Holy Humor Sunday in June. With all this work done ahead of time I was able to enjoy the Maundy Thursday Service, to relax a bit and reflect on Good Friday and to participate fully in the Easter Egg hunt. That's not to say that it was not a busy week. It totally was! But I was able to be 'present' in it much more without the stress.
I think these changes are partly do to age, maturity and learning from mistakes. There will always be those stressful weeks when things get pushed to the last minute, but, at 36, I feel I have found the rhythm that works best for me. And that is just one of the reasons I love 36. (I wonder what 46 will bring?)