Monday, March 21, 2005

Springtime and Fighting Complacency

After reading this post on Lizzy's blog, which I read after this post on Kelly's blog, I had the following thoughts...

About a year and a half ago, the phone rang one day. I looked at the caller ID (a must-have, in my opinion, for all church members) and saw a name I recognized but couldn't quite place. Oh, hello, stake executive secretary.

Would my wife and I be available to meet with the stake president Sunday morning? When I got this phone call I knew exactly why he wanted to see us. I knew what was coming, and I knew it was going to change quite a few things in our family. But, I laughed it off and told Anne that he was probably looking for greeters for stake conference... Sure, that's it!

Now this stake president has known us for a while. He set me apart when I left on my mission. He released me when I returned. He interviewed me when we were married. He was similarly involved in Anne's mission and marriage recommends. So we were sitting in his office, again, and he said, "Do you know why you're here?"

I knew dang well why I was there, but I wasn't going to tell him. I mean, what if I was wrong? I'm certainly not going to plant any ideas in his head. I played dumb. "... Because your secretary called me?"

And sure enough, I had been correct (not about the secretary). Not only did I know why I was there, but I knew who my counselors should be. And thus it went.

I spent the first few weeks having difficulty sleeping. I'd stare at the ceiling in a mild panic. There was so much to do, so much to take on, so much to accomplish. I'd never get it all done. I have a job. I have a family. Now, I have this. A friend of mine had the same calling and his wife had not-so-humorously joked about divorce. I thought of our poor bishop, how on earth does he do it all?

Mainly, my thoughts centered around this fact: the talent pool in our ward must be pretty shallow. And to be perfectly honest, our ward was in a period of transition back then. We had one or two solid families moving out every month, and no one moving in. That trend has since reversed, an answer to prayer, and I know there are plenty of other people who could do my job far better than I. Someday, someone else will have the chance, but for now it's still my time to do my best.

The first few weeks, it seemed there was never enough time in the day. I'd race home from work, suck down dinner, then race off to an appointment here or a meeting there. I found I was speeding whenever I was driving--maybe because I was always late to the next meeting, but maybe because I was always wired. Eventually I got over the panic, and I followed the advice of the bishop, which was, do the best you can do.

Then last summer I got slammed at work. For two years I had been proposing a 6-month project, and suddenly they decided to approve it with a 6-week deadline. If I had spent 60 or 70 hours at work in a week, it wouldn't have been enough. I spent all summer, awake at night, cranking numbers and solutions for the problems I had at work. It would all either work marvelously, in which case I anticipated a nice raise, or it would be a colossal disaster, in which case I'd pray for a sympathetic boss. In a way, that helped take additional stress and worry out of the church work.

Now, a year and a half later, I look back at my performance over the last few months. Frankly, I'm not impressed with myself, and I don't feel my efforts have been representative of my "best". Maybe my "good" or my "okay" or my "well, not too shabby," but definitely not my "best". One of my counselors went to a training meeting last week, and as he was sharing his notes with me Sunday I again had the feeling that there's more to do. There's much, much more to do. And it's not going to get done by sitting around thinking about it.

In the beginning, I was motivated by the sheer magnitude of it all. Then I got used to the idea, and got busy with other things. Now I look back and realize I still need that motivation, just not the "panic" and doubts that are now gone anyway.

So, here's to getting back to work.

5 Comments:

At March 21, 2005 2:32 PM, Blogger lizzy said...

Oh, man, can I relate! I'm experiencing my first "president" experience, but my 5th "presidency"
experience. I know all about momentum and the lack thereof. I'm all full of excitement in the beginning, but, sooner or later, it wares off. It happens to all of us.

But, I like your idea of recognizing that it's happened and then re-kindling the flame. Let's hope I remember this 6 months from now!

 
At March 23, 2005 12:36 PM, Blogger Barbara said...

We do need to repeatedly and continually nuture the flame, but I don't think you should be too hard on yourself. Many of us try hard every day (or pretty much mostly every day), but what, exactly does it mean to do your best? No matter how hard I try or even how well I might actually sometimes do, I always know I could have done better.

I think your ward is blessed, both with you and Anne and what sounds like a wise a Bishop.

 
At March 25, 2005 4:03 PM, Blogger Eddie said...

Lizzy: My bet is that 6 months from now you'll still be in full swing.

Barbara: Many people are too hard on themselves, but I really feel like I'm just being honest with myself!

Follow up: Right after writing this, I started a frenzied email blitz to my presidency. That resulted in a call to my cell phone as I was driving home, which allowed us to get some things on the planning table.

This has continued over the last few days, and we've got some good things planned and will now be regularly meeting one night a week to plan, conduct visits, interviews, etc.

We just needed a little kick in the pants, that's all.

 
At March 27, 2005 3:48 PM, Blogger Barbara said...

People (children and friends usually) often tell me that I am being too hard on myself when I feel that I am only being honest. I sometimes also think, "That's not the half of it. If they only knew!"

It is good to always try to do better. It is not necessarily good to beat yourself up. It is also difficult to find balance in our lives - a continuing struggle.

 
At March 27, 2005 3:48 PM, Blogger Barbara said...

People (children and friends usually) often tell me that I am being too hard on myself when I feel that I am only being honest. I sometimes also think, "That's not the half of it. If they only knew!"

It is good to always try to do better. It is not necessarily good to beat yourself up. It is also difficult to find balance in our lives - a continuing struggle.

 

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