What Am I Grateful For Today… My Staff

There is one Lord, one faith, one baptism,and one God and Father of all, who is over all, through all, and in all.

God has given his grace to each one of us measured out by the gift that is given by Christ. That’s why scripture says, When he climbed up to the heights, he captured prisoners, and he gave gifts to people.[a]

What does the phrase “he climbed up” mean if it doesn’t mean that he had first gone down into the lower regions, the earth? 10 The one who went down is the same one who climbed up above all the heavens so that he might fill everything.

11 He gave some apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, and some pastors and teachers. 12 His purpose was to equip God’s people for the work of serving and building up the body of Christ 13 until we all reach the unity of faith and knowledge of God’s Son. (Ephesians 4:5-13a, Common English Bible).

I love my staff. Though I often refer to them as my staff, they aren’t really my staff, they are the church staff. And, contrary to the cartoon above, I know they really wouldn’t follow me anywhere. But, I love them anyway. They really are good people who love Jesus Christ and love the work they do for First United Methodist Church in Sweeny. They also make me look better than I really am.

As I tell you about these people I am only going to use their first names. If you know then you will know their last names. If you don’t know them, their last names won’t matter to you anyway.

Marty is my right hand. She is truly a Godsend. Marty is our “church secretary,” but she is really more than that. The title predates me. If we changed the name “Administrative Assistant,” that wouldn’t really cover it either. I guess if I were going to give her a title it would be “Office Manager.” She keeps the office running. She keeps up our records and reports. She transcribes the meeting minutes. She produces bulletins and reminder emails every week and newsletters every month. She keeps up with supplies and places orders when they are needed. She answers the phone and greets people during the week when they come into our building. Preachers often say that the church secretary is the person who does all the real work. Well, of the two of us who are there pretty much every day, Marty does the real work. I am grateful for Marty.

Kaci is our treasurer. As such, she is exactly what that sounds like. She keeps track of our money, she pays the bills, she keeps track of the various budget line items, she generates the reports needed by the church finance committee and governing council. The most important thing you should know about Kaci is, she does the payroll. In other words, she writes my paycheck. Needless to say, I love Kaci! Seriously, payroll is a big deal and that she knows how its done is a great relief to me. When I was recently searching for a new chair for the finance committee, the first question I was asked by a perspective chair was, “Kaci isn’t going anywhere is she?” Kaci is gifted in the world of church finance and I am very grateful for her.

John directs our choir. While I pick the hymns we sing each Sunday, John sees to the music the choir sings. He picks and leads the choir in the anthem each week. If for whatever reason the choir doesn’t sing the anthem in a Sunday service, he finds someone to fill that role too. He selects the Christmas and Easter cantatas. He also leads the choir in their rehearsal time. John also keeps me on my toes on Sunday morning. He has been known to heckle me during my sermon. I have to be ready! I am grateful for John.

Greg is our pianist (he plays electronic keyboard and melodica as well). I have been blessed with talented musicians throughout much of my career. I am grateful for all of them. Greg takes a backseat to no one. I have yet to put a piece of music in front of Greg he couldn’t play. A few months ago I wrote both the lyrics and music for a song. I handed Greg a piece of paper with the melody and guitar chords. It is all I had. He turned it into a great song complete with harmony while sight-reading my song. I was impressed. I recently walked into the sanctuary late on a Saturday afternoon to get something ready for Sunday morning. I found Greg there too. He plays for any of our extra services including services we are now doing at the local assisted living and nursing homes. I am grateful for Greg.

Felicia is the staff member I know the least. In the year and a half I have been the pastor here I have only met Felicia two or three times. That is because Felicia usually works when I am not working. Felicia is our custodian. It is not uncommon for Felicia to be in the building at three in the morning. And, while I may sometimes be awake at 3:00 A.M. I am not at the church at that time. Felicia’s job is one that, when she does it right (and she does), people generally don’t notice. When it isn’t done right (and I have had a few over the years that didn’t do it right) everyone notices. Because Felicia does the job right, I don’t hear about it. Because the building always looks good, I am grateful for Felicia.

Paul and Emma are our two newest staff members. They both hold the same title of Pastor Emeritus. Both are retired Untied Methodist pastors. Who give (and I mean that literally) of their time for the benefit of our church.

Paul is one of my dearest friends. I have known Paul as long as I have been in the ministry. He is a retired local pastor who served churches around East Texas for some 20 years or so before coming to Sweeny. Paul leads our ministry to both the nursing home and assisted living in town. Before Paul joined our staff those ministries did not exist. He also played important roles in our Vacation Bible School for Grown-ups and our children’s vacation Bible School. Paul helps with hospital visitation and assists me with worship. I am grateful for Paul

Emma is a retired deacon in the United Methodist Church. Prior to her retirement Emma served congregations in Oklahoma. Her ministry specialized in Christian Education. Emma has played an important leadership role in our Vacation Bible School for grown-ups. She is also leading our Christmas ministry this year, a shoe box campaign for children in Haiti. I am grateful for Emma.

In today’s reading Paul is telling the Ephesians about the gifts God gave to some to lead the church. With the exception of Paul and Emma’s roles, Paul doesn’t mention the jobs the others have. I can’t help but think if Paul were here today, they would be right there. Life in the Church has changed since Paul’s day. The needs of the church has changed over the years. What each of these bring to our congregation are vital to the ministries we have in this community and in the world.

Every one of these Christian leaders plays their primary role but I don’t have enough room here to tell you everything they do. They each work hard to make First United Methodist Church what it is today. Today and every day, for each of them, I am grateful.

That is what I am grateful for today. What about you? What are you grateful for today? Write it in your journal and then share it with a friend. Help them to think about what they are grateful for today.

Have a blessed day in the Lord.

With Joy and Thankfulness,
Keith

Copyright 2017, J. Keith Broyles, All Rights Reserved

 

Author:

Spirita Spiro (Esperanza for "Spirit's Breath) is rather new in my life. But the blog is not. I began writing a blog several years ago. It lived under the title, "The Pastor Ponders." Over the years I have tried several different names and "The Pastor Ponders" always seemed to fit best. I am trying again with Spirita Spiro. For 27 years I was a full-time pastor in the United Methodist Church. This year, August 2018, I semi-retired (I can't actually retire quite yet) and began teaching social studies. It is something I have always wanted to do and if I was going to do this, I needed to make it sooner rather than later. So, I made the move. I thought with the career change there also needed to be a name change to the blog and other things, such as spiritual direction. Spirita Spiro is my attempt to share some of my thoughts. I often share what I am thinking with my dog "Bishop," but he keeps his thoughts to himself. He will even go to sleep sometimes while I am sharing my thoughts with him. The truth is, if it doesn't involve getting his ears scratched, his belly rubbed or some kind of treat, he really doesn't care. I will say this for him, he never argues with me or tells me I am wrong. So, I decided to share some of my thoughts with whoever might come across this blog in their ramblings around the Internet. I live with my wife Cindy and our little dog in Lufkin, Texas. I spent the past 27 years as a full-time United Methodist pastor. Most recently I served as pastor of First United Methodist Church in Sweeny, Texas. I have also served United Methodist congregations throughout East Texas including rural Madison County (Elwood UMC), Lovelady (First UMC) and Kennard (Center Hill UMC), Canton (First UMC), rural Smith County (Mt. Sylvan UMC and Union Chapel UMC), Grapeland (First UMC), Tyler (Pleasant Retreat UMC), Santa Fe (Aldersgate UMC), Freeport (First UMC) and Oyster Creek (Oyster Creek UMC), Diboll (First UMC), and now Sweeny (First UMC). My wife Cindy and I have been married for over 40 years. We have two grown sons. Wayne and his wife Nikki and all our grandsons (Kaleb, Noah, and Jaxon) live in Southern California. Christopher and his wife Morgan and both our granddaughters (Jenna and Natalie) live in Tyler Texas. I enjoy preaching and all aspects of preaching from research to writing to the actual preaching event. I also love writing, reading, playing the guitar as well as a bit of drawing. I have spent quite a bit of time over the past two years working with paracord on various projects, mostly prayer ropes I usually give away. I sing bass with a local barbershop chorus called The Coastalaires. I have also recently begun doing a little wood carving. I also enjoy playing with Bishop, something he likes a great deal better than listening to my thoughts. I hold an Associate of Applied Science Degree in Business Data Processing, specializing in Microcomputers from San Jacinto College in Pasadena, Texas, a Bachelor of Science in Political Science with a minor in History from Sam Houston State University in Huntsville, TX, a Master of Divinity from Southern Methodist University in Dallas, TX and a Doctor of Ministry from Carolina University of Theology. When I was a student at Carolina, the school was in Iron Station North Carolina. They have since relocated to Manassas Virginia (Yeah, go figure, a school named Carolina geographically in Virginia). This blog is mostly devotional writing, but there are other things here too. Just about every week I will either post my sermon manuscript or a video of the worship service. On occasion, I will post something I see in society. Occasionally I write a short story, a poem, or a song and will post it here too. I will say this, my motivations for writing this blog are really selfish. I write it to get what I am thinking out of my head and onto something a bit more permanent. They say, after all, once something is on the internet it never really goes away. Still, I hope you enjoy reading it. And, should you desire, you can one-up Bishop and actually tell me what you think. Who knows, it might generate a bit of discussion between you and me and anyone else who might make their way here. With Joy and Thankfulness, Keith Sweeny, Texas May 2018

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