First Published February 26, 2015, on Leah's former blog, "Being In Berkeley".
I recently realized I could scratch an item off of my bucket list (if I was the type to actually make one, which I'm not really). But if I had a bucket list, I could scratch an item off. I was looking through paperwork and working with my lawyer friend on formally incorporating this little faith community we're both a part of, when she turns to me, looking at a form we need to complete, and says "Chief Executive Officer... well that's you, Leah. Hey Leah, you're a CEO!" And just like that, "Become a CEO" is done.
But though my job title on paper may have changed, the transformation of my life has been much more gradual. We are in the early entrepreneurial stage of starting a new faith-community. It's an all-hands-on-deck experience and one in which I'm becoming, by necessity, a Jack(or Jacqueline?)-of-all-trades. Our goal was to become a formal legal entity as early as possible in 2015 so I've spent much of the year so far brain-deep in articles of incorporation, bylaws revisions, learning Quickbooks, pulling together board meetings, researching church management software, creating a website, and many, many other fun administrative things. Plus the pastoral stuff of preaching, leading worship, leading Bible studies, meeting with members and community contacts...Oh, and I'm still the primary caregiver of three young kids. So there's that.
As I've been working through the process of getting up to speed on all things church management related, I've found myself consistently in very many straight-white-male spaces. Church management software sites have interview after interview with hip looking young white men telling me about why they love the edgy software they're using to expand the gospel. Lots of blogs of "church planters" (the church insider term for faith community entrepreneurs like me) tell the stories of men who are either fully vocational as church planters or bi-vocational, meaning they're working at least part-time at some other gig to pay the rent for them and their families. All of their thoughts and advice about how they're doing life and ministry come from a married man with a wife and 2.5 kids, and assume the reader is in a similar position. Usually the wife is the primary caregiver for the kids and the guy is the primary ministry person.
There is nothing wrong with that model. Nothing at all; most of the fellow senior pastors I know and love fit in this category. But it doesn't fit everyone that starts and leads a church. And in this case, I am the "not everyone". So just in case there are other women (or men) out there who would benefit from hearing a point of view that isn't straight-white-male-married, with a wife watching the kids, I thought I'd write a few snapshots of how another way of being a church planter can look. I don't believe this is better or worse or harder or easier than the traditional model, but it is my model, and it, or something like it, may be the model for others. So here are a few snapshots of what life as a CEO/Senior Pastor/Stay-At-Home Mom looks like for me right now, for those who find it helpful.
1. You Schedule All Your Appointments Around Your Kids' Schedules.
You meet people for coffee at the coffee shop closest to your toddler's class for maximum kid-free time. (I can get a good 90 minutes with someone twice a week if I'm strategic this way). You go to the bank to open your corporate account when you know you'll only have one kid in-tow instead of three. You bring music on your phone and a set of head-phones for the toddler that's with you. Unexpected perk: she entertains herself by taking pictures with your phone, thus documenting the historic moment you opened your account and became a legit organization with money and stuff. You're grateful, even if the photos are fuzzy and out of focus. You also have 113 pictures of the bank chair.
2. You Take Advantage of Software to Connect with Other Pastors, Advisors, and Friends.
You get to know the ins and outs of FaceTime, Skype, Google Hangouts, and GoToMeeting. Ideally, you schedule these talk sessions during your kids' nap time, but if you're connecting with folks in other parts of the country, and juggling time differences, etc., that's not always possible. So, if necessary, you strategically plan your kids' screen-time for the day around your online meetings, reserving Yo Gabba-Gabba or Daniel Tiger's Neighborhood until it's go-time. Unexpected perk: You can totally rock the pajama pants in these kind of meetings and no one will be the wiser. Just change the shirt your kid puked or spilled something on, throw on a little makeup, and you're good to go.
3. You Write and Practice Your Sermons Wherever You Can.
In the car while you wait for your son to finish soccer practice. On the elliptical at the Y during your daughter's dance class. In the coffee shop once your husband comes home from work because your kid hit his head at school that day and had to come home early (he's fine, by the way), and your quiet, alone time at home was stolen from you. Unexpected perk: you get really comfortable preaching anywhere. That's despite the fact that you probably look like a total weirdo to all the strangers around you as you mutter under your breath into your computer or iPad or phone. But Jesus doesn't want us to be too proud, so this is also seen as a perk, in it's own way.
There you have it: a few glimpses into my life right now as a CEO/Senior Pastor/Stay-At-Home Mom. It may not be very glamorous, but I know it's exactly the life I was meant to live. And that is definitely worth putting on a bucket list.