Thursday, April 28, 2011

Detail Oriented

I've been asked before, "Are you detail oriented?"  I think I know what the questioners mean.  I've been in business before, and I think they mean, "do you attend to the administrative details?  And, how do you do this?"

For example, if I am planning a funeral, do I remember to call the servers, the organist, the person doing the bulletins, the custodian?  Do I remember to ask the right questions about music, numbers of people coming, whether they want to have communion or not?  do I remember to have a worship assistant or an usher?  Do I remember to ask for a room for the luncheon after the service?

Ministry is filled with details like these. 

If I am planning a program, do I know all the things I need to do in order to pull it off successfully?  Do I remember that there is advertising and promotions, there are people to recruit and materials to find, and a suitable space to procure?  Perhaps there is training for volunteers as well.  How do you make sure to remember all these details?

There's another way to look at the phrase, "detail oriented," though, and I wish someone would ask questions about this way of being detail oriented.

Do you notice the two women sitting in the back of the church, crying?  Or how that girl in confirmation sits apart from everyone else?  When you meet with the young couple who want to get married, do you notice when they look at each other, and when one of them looks down?  Can you read between the lines when you ask a man who just had to put his wife in a nursing home how he is, and he answers, "Fine"?  Or when you hear a young man read the lesson for the first time, do you notice how he walks back to his seat with just a little swagger in his step?

Do you know the young girl in your congregation who is just itching to take her first communion, but it's a year away?  Or the couple who are looking for a way to make a difference in their community?  Do you know that people are not just the sum total of their needs, but the sum of their needs, and their hopes, and their gifts, and the Holy Spirit working in them, God knows how?

Are you detail oriented?


Fran said...

What a beautiful way to look at ministry. I will never forget reading this when I think of details again.

Anonymous said...

I love this way of being detail oriented! The next time you are asked I think you should explain how you pay attention to both kinds of details.