Sometimes, I want to BE Solomon!
I bet King Solomon didn't need things in writing to back up his wise decisions, but I know Children's Ministries do. Working to establish and implement sound written policies, guidelines and procedures for a safe, organized and effective ministry with children has been a labor of love for me. Pulling together task forces to evaluate, trouble shoot, revise and edit existing policies and procedures as well as helping churches draft, edit, ratify and put new policies, procedures and guidelines for volunteer screening and background checks was a major focus in every church I've served.
Even before task forces got busy , I dedicated myself to training our teams to understand, practice and embrace best practices even before they came together in writing. It was more important to me than vacation bible school and age-appropriate play equipment! (That's huge!) In some cases, I moved on to another church before the ink on those documents was dry, but in all cases, I left knowing the bulk of the work was done. King Solomon would have both proud!
Still, getting the church to rarify the documents was always approached with fears of major confrontation and much trepidation. The task force members thought old Aunt Ida would give us a fit. I can still hear her indignation accentuated by a finger in my face. "Background check? No way! I'll quit first!" Seriously, I woke up in a cold sweat dreading the church wide uproar and perceived insults, but ratification and implementation was always smooth and effective. I guess those prayers for Solomon's wisdom were answered after all.
For the record, dear old Aunt Ida didn't quit and sheepishly admitted the background process was utterly painless and respectful. "They do it in ALL the schools, don't you know!"
With everything in writing and teams trained so everyone is on the same page, day to day ministry was smooth sailing, most of the time.
You'd think it would continue to work well, but there was push back. Oh, to BE Solomon!
- In those growing churches, and I pray all churches are growing, new people joined the church bringing new ideas and other ways of doing ministry. "Why can't my friend help me teach? At our old church, non-members were allowed to teach Sunday school." "My child refuses to go to Sunday School because she says she's not a baby. Kindergarteners belong in the Elementary department."
- Then there was the long time member who voted against the PP&G's, was a big influencer back in the day, or simply resist change of any kind. "Why I've always taught with my husband. These new rules are ridiculous!" or "Multi-age grouping? Good old Pastor Smith would roll over in his grave!"
- Let's not forget the overwhelmed parent hoping, nope praying, I'd bend the rules to make their life easier by preventing another temper tantrum. "What's wrong with Jimmy climbing the fence? He does it at home all the time."
- This was the one that almost puts me over the edge. "I want to enroll Susan in the three year old class. I know she's only 12 months old, but she's extremely advanced for her age."
Friends, those were the times I wanted to BE Solomon. There I was caught between what our leadership has thoughtfully decided is best and responding favorably to the desires or perceived needs of the parent and child.
In wanting to be Solomon, I'm not saying I was going to"split the baby" just to force an issue, but splitting a baby is exactly what I felt I was asked to do. It felt like no matter what I decided, one was going to give in and the other give up..... hopefully, by choice not by intimidation.
It required diplomacy, but boiled down to knowing whether to be persuasive or persuaded.
Let me explain.
Sometimes, they just had a bad day and I was a convenient punching bag. In those situations, I found a quiet place to address concerns, then approached with grace. I learned this not a time to be persuasive or persuaded. I learned to listen, reflect and schedule another meeting when defenses were down. I prayed with them before parting because honestly, we both needed it.
Most of the time, people simply weren't vested in the PP&G's (Policies, Procedures and Guidelines). Even if I gave them a copy, they lacked an appreciation for and attachment to all the work and wisdom poured into the ruling documents. Usually diplomatically explaining "why we do what we do" satisfied their concerns and they are willingly persuaded to accept the status quo.
Other times, a fresh perspective persuaded me to see things I missed. By utilizing their insights to make adjustments, the ministry improved and the persuasive person felt welcome and valued.
Inevitably, no matter how amazing I thought the PP&G's were or how well I handled those interactions, it kept happening. People saw exceptions to the rules, holes in procedures and problems with policies.
In each case, just like Solomon and the baby, I had two choices.
1. Be persuasive by honoring the PP&G's through explaining and clarifying
2. - Be open to being persuaded to embrace change where needed.
But I struggled over which to choose in any given situation, so I pleaded.
" Please God, I want to BE Solomon!"
And then God whispered the answer to my prayer....
"The wise decisions of Solomon came from his faith in Me. My child - BE Solomon!"