Diminishing Returns

Wednesday, February 29, 2012
Tomorrow is a big day for me. It simultaneously represents my past as well as my future. It is the perfect combination of the last 8 years of my life with the unseen beyond.

Tomorrow is the last day that I will be an employee at Argyle United Methodist Church.

I have blogged before about how I started working at the church in 2004, how for the past 8 years I have increasingly felt God's presence in my life, and how I believe that God specifically brought me to AUMC to work in this specific ministry by giving me a passion for Church Media. Now I will continue the story where my previous post left off.

I felt my passion most intense several years ago. I had just finished college, had just realized how much I hated what I thought I wanted to do all of my life, and was searching for my new life goal. At the same time the church I was working for was growing by leaps and bounds and was moving into a new building soon. Along with the building process came the installation of the new sound system, and I was in heaven: media, technology, ministry; I had found my passion!

And all was well in the world!!!.... well, for a while, at least. Soon I found myself burnt out, not as "on fire" as I had been. Whereas before I would LIVE church media (even in my free time), soon it became just a job.

Looking back I can find several reasons for this, but I believe the primary reason was that what I was doing on a day-to-day basis changed. I went from running the sound booth to also designing the sermon series graphics to being tech support to being in charge of the Weekly Newsletter and printing the bulletin for Sunday worship. Instead of spending 10-15 hours a week in the sound booth I was spending 25+ hours running around the building just trying to get everything done in time.

Now don't get me wrong, I am not complaining about any of this; in fact I welcomed much of the work when I first started doing it and (usually) my pay would see an appropriate increase.

But with a widening of my job description (that is, if I had a job description) came an interesting change: I could no longer focus on any one part of my ministry. Instead of spending several hours a week making the sound booth better in various ways (organizing cables, upgrading systems, troubleshooting problems), I found myself running off to do something else instead. And when I did physically have the hours to do some of these things, I found myself not able to concentrate on them because I was always thinking of the other 95 things I had to do that week.

I found that there were diminishing returns when it comes to assigning new duties. The more jobs someone has, the less they are able to focus on any one specific job. (I am sure there are many conferences on Being The Best Leader You Can Be in which I could have found this out; I guess I choose the hard way to learn this lesson!)

This is one reason why I am so excited about passing on this ministry to someone else. Of course I have many mixed feelings about it (I have grown this ministry for the past eight years!), but I honestly believe that it is a win-win situation for everyone! Not only does my replacement have the passion and fervor that I had several years ago (a week ago he was already joking about how when I come to visit I wouldn't even be able to recognize it as "Matthew's Booth" any more), but he will be able to focus much more than I have been able to lately.

See they are actually splitting my position into three separate positions, spinning off related duties into their own separate categories. No longer will the same person be running the sound booth and sending out the Weekly Newsletter; now each employee can focus on their own ministry.

I understand and am OK with the fact that I was a casualty of a church that was exploding and was being stretched at the seams. I can now sleep at night knowing that the work I put into growing this ministry was not in vain and (the even harder realization) that my replacements will do so much better at this job than I was ever able to do.

For now I leave you with the same words of peace I sent to my volunteers in my last email to them: May God continue to bless these and all of the ministries of Argyle United Methodist Church, may God lead and direct my replacements as they transition into their new roles, and may God use his servants to bring peace and love to the community of Argyle and the surrounding areas. Amen.