By the time you read this, I hope to have finished building a replacement deck on our house in Eden Prairie. After searching for ways to Do Something for Nancy, I settled on giving her a more comfortable place to sit out in the sunshine she loves, with more room for her plants and for hosting company. So I budgeted for the materials and relished the chance to use my tools and construction skills, and my best window for completing this project fell in August, with my summer youth trips accomplished and with a little quiet time left before fall programming starts up. However, you may remember much of August featured torrential rains and an impressive 100-degree heat index! Right project, right time— but less-than-ideal conditions that are giving new meaning to “sweat equity.” I’ve been making progress in spite of the weather, though, chugging lots of water and working until dark, fueled by the belief that when the new deck is done it will seem well worth the investment, the sore muscles and the sunburn, in order to have a better, more useful space to live in— some quality-of-life infrastructure.
Gethsemane made a similar decision when we opened the doors in 2006 on our remodeled building, investing in our quality-of-ministry infrastructure. These attractive new spaces get well-used all the time, and I believe the congregation continues to feel like that was money and energy well-spent, that the timing was right, that it needed to be done in order for us to adequately serve our membership and community— even though we’ve still got a significant chunk of that mortgage yet to pay off, and many of our original windows are needing urgent replacements, and a new roof is not far off… all while many of our member households continue to struggle financially in this recession. Right project, right time—less-than-ideal economy.
Auto dealerships are trying hard to convince us that “Opportunity is Knocking” and “Now’s the Right Time” to buy that new car, while hoping that we’re not reading the new unemployment forecasts before committing to a major purchase. Hopefully good financial news really is right around the corner, but good stewardship of money and time continue to be essential skills in a world where almost everybody’s selling something—and the latest gadget is usually a way more fun and attractive way to spend a dollar than, say, paying taxes to replace a bridge before it falls down. And a week spent re-painting your house is less attractive than—well, anything, probably. (I kind of hate painting.)
But things of value are worth paying for to build and sustain them, worth sacrificing for, and worth spending the time to do the necessary groundwork: in other words, infrastructure. (For every hour I get to spend with teenagers, I’m spending 8 hours prepping at my desk or doing errands or recruiting/training volunteers or managing fundraisers—but all of that time spent allows the one eventual hour with the youth to be more fruitful.)
As you get your stewardship campaign materials this fall, I hope you will be able to feel good about investing in Gethsemane with your time, talents and finances, in balance with all of the other things you truly value. May God bless the timing of your decisions! Now I’m getting back out there to sweat off a few more pounds on my construction zone stay-cation… Carpe diem!