I’m celebrating an important anniversary this month—my first full year of being the Big Waters District Superintendent. I have to say that I love this role! At the Big Waters District lunch at annual conference, I shared several of the reasons why I love the role and all of the incredible things happening in the district:
My goal for my first year was to make connections with everyone and to help others make positive connections with each other. My second goal was to increase energy and momentum, which was easy because of all of the amazing things you are doing on the ground in your churches. If I had one goal for the district for the next year, it would be this: All of our churches would continually focus on God and on the larger purpose in being together. Every day, prayers should be lifted up asking God to use us and getting ourselves out of God’s way. This sounds simple but it is not—especially for long-established churches. The longer we have been around, the more we drift from our original purpose in being together. Then, we begin to focus on meeting individuals’ preferences. Or, we focus only on how to survive as a church so that we can continue to keep doing things the way they’ve always been done. This creates a social club mentality where our members want what they want because they want it instead of what God wants.
One of the other DSs recently shared with me an interesting reading from Joan Chittister. Joan is a member of the Benedictine Sisters of Erie, Pennsylvania, where she served as prioress for 12 years. She is a gifted writer who has authored 50 books and over 700 articles in numerous journals and magazines. She was reflecting on Matthew 10 (Jesus says that those who find their life will lose it and those who lose their life for His sake will find it) and wrote in her journal: “Whatever we do we do for a purpose larger than ourselves or there is no use doing it at all. The real purpose of our lives is not for ourselves alone. It is to co-create the world. It is to bring the rest of the world to the point of humanity we think ourselves to have achieved. It is when all I care about is my life that I begin to have it seep out of me into a pool of selfishness so deep that I miss the juice of all the life that is around me.”
There is so much juice and life all around us. My hope and prayer is that together we can give ourselves over to this life all around us and then amazing things will (continue to) happen.
Susan Nienaber is Big Waters District Superintendent for the Minnesota Annual Conference of the United Methodist Church.
Minnesota Annual Conference of the United Methodist Church