Sunday, after the service, there was a core group meeting to talk about money and the budget.
2 things about that, before we get to the point.
The Bridge has a core leadership group. Of course, it does. It’s not awesome to have anything too centralized, without accountability, without different opinions, backgrounds, ideas. No one person should shoulder all of the responsibility. In fact, no 2 or 3 or 4 people should – there should be a team, like the Avengers. (Well, maybe not exactly like the Avengers, but you get the idea.)
The Bridge has a budget. For so long, I stayed away from religion like it was a new Coldplay album because, in my experience, it had nothing to do with God or spirituality, and everything to do with business and wealth and excess. The Bridge began with that in my heart and mind, and every penny that was offered to the community was given away – there were no expenses, no salaries, we were free to direct our money to those in need. It was beautiful and easy. Then, we moved into our current building and accepted necessary operating expenses. Just like at your house or job, the lights don’t stay on by themselves. It’s a pretty big crack in the naive idealism of my youth, but with the proper perspective and responsibility, it can still be beautiful, even as it’s ease has disappeared. As we grow, there is more opportunity for gifts. More relationships mean more passion, more mission, more action, more spaces for support, with our prayers, energy, time, and money. Our orange offering box is an invitation to participate. And responsible stewardship, like anything valuable, doesn’t just happen by accident. It takes intention, and some meetings to assure that the beautiful vision of the Bridge stays sharp.
Now. We had planned this meeting in February, and it has been my primary focus since then, worn around my neck like a chain – sometimes heavy, but always present as a reminder. Many times I was distracted from other things, it was because I was deep in prayer and reflection. Were our finances in step with our vision/mission? You know, they say that if you want to know what it is that you really believe, you can look at your calendar and your checkbook. Were ours consistent with what we said we believed and valued? More times than I can count, I left other things unfinished, because this issue was (and should have been) my priority. I laid awake nights, asking God for guidance, to lead me into rooms I never intended to go. (My avoidance was absolutely ridiculous, I might add. Looking away, pretending something uncomfortable isn’t there, is not now and has never been a very good strategy for life.) He did, He always does.
For 5 months, I lived like a student preparing a gigantic project. I imagine we all did, to some extent. Sunday afternoon, we turned that project in, submitted our paper, the fruit of so much labor. And she WAS beautiful.
But here’s the point, my wife and I came home afterwards and shared our comments and observations for an hour or 2, then… Nothing. I didn’t get started on the next thing. I didn’t begin anything new. I didn’t work at all, as a matter of fact. I just took some time to decompress from 5 months of building, took some time to appreciate what we’d built, together.
Mostly, we don’t take those moments to be where we are, even for a second. We aren’t usually content and satisfied. We continue to climb the next mountain, achieve the next goal, cross off the next item on our to-do list. Why is that?
The preparation, the creation, was 5 months of hard – sometimes excruciatingly hard and frustrating – and to simply move on to the next thing seems so disrespectful of the journey. I’m a different man now, and every step in becoming should be celebrated, or at the very least gratefully acknowledged, with the attention it deserves.