Fruitful longevity (18/10/13)
We haven’t written anything since Westgate…the silence hasn’t been intentional, merely a reflection of a lack of time and energy! The last two-and-a-bit weeks have been chock-a-block with activity…a sample of activities:
–selection of the interior design scheme of the new pediatrics building, designed by friend and gifted interior designer Mandy Webster (Ponte Vedra Beach, Fl)
–launching of a new project to have 100 quilts knitted for the new beds in the peds building–watch this space for more info if you have the gift of quilting…
–a weekend Daddy-Son camping trip to Hell’s Gate National Park, with friends Mike and Michael
–news that the photographer-pediatrician team of David and Arianna Shirk will be returning to Kijabe in September 2014 for a minimum of two years. We are privileged to have been participants in their decision-making process to make the leap to longer-term volunteer/missions work.
–news that after a long search and a lot prayer, we will finally have an ENT (ears, nose, and throat) maxillofacial surgeon to run our brand new ENT clinic, starting in July 2014.
–the decision that given that our children sink like rocks in a pool, it’s time to teach them how to swim. Coupled with the discovery that a nearby pool in Naivasha offers swimming lessons = the Steere children will soon be swimming. We hope.
–Mardi getting stuck into numerous strategic projects as Medical Director: working on long-term solutions to ensure Kijabe Hospital’s compassionate care to the poor is financially sustainable, staffing our Emergency Department 24/7 with experienced staff, and building on the work of her predecessors to put in place a mentoring framework which ensures medical leadership is more than clinical but also includes actual management, leadership, and spiritual development.
–Andy assisting the Hospital in finalising the tender for the new Hospital water storage tank with the help of Aurecon Pty Ltd (and much historical help from Inside Infrastructure) in Adelaide, South Australia, who provided the engineering and commercial advice.
–Arranging and participating in trauma debrief and information sessions for Hospital staff following the Westgate attacks
-Andy being asked to join SIM Kenya’s “Area Council”, an advisory and governance body which oversees the 100-odd SIM workers in Kenya, Eritrea, Uganda, Tanzania, and adjacent countries.
–Andy chairing a Task Force to review the existing governance structure of SIM Kenya and provide recommendations for a new structure. The Government of Kenya has launched strict new requirements for ‘NGOs’ (how they classify SIM), and after three months of meetings and planning, the Task Force presented recommendations for a new governance model to the aforementioned Area Council which align with the GOK requirements.
–continued teaching at Moffat, and mentoring students
Today we took part of a day off and went into Nairobi…it was the first time Mardi was comfortable venturing into Nairobi since the Westgate attacks. We were hoping to see Gravity, but it wasn’t showing until in the evening…boo. On a whim, we asked the manager if he could put it on for us in an empty theatre mid-morning, and he agreed! We saw this terrific movie, in 3D, in an empty movie theatre on the day it opened in Kenya…the grandeur and beauty of outer space depicted so incredibly by the director moved me to tears. Truly, movies can be art.
I met this week with a student of mine at Moffat for mentoring…he is from a remote part of a neighboring country–it takes him two days to travel to Moffat. Two days. He is a deep student, a gifted speaker and thinker, but in recent weeks has been unusually quiet. As we talked, he shared with me some issues which were affecting his studies (which I won’t share here, as many of my students read this blog), and he was wondering about options for managing them, including potentially putting his theological studies on hold.
We had a chat about the difference between calling and timing, and that they are often separable and distinct…we also discussed “fruitful longevity“; the principle of being fruitful in the long term. Not just bearing fruit/being productive for a short while and then fizzling out, and not just ‘hanging in there’ for 30 years without bearing much fruit. No, we want to learn to be in ministry and service to others for the long haul, the marathon, and put in place sustainable, healthy, balanced strategies for ministry/work/life which allow us to bear fruit over a long period.
We also discussed how a ‘yes’ to an opportunity is never just a ‘yes’, but is always simultaneously a ‘no’–in other words, if someone asks me to preach at their church on Sunday, and I say ‘yes’, I am also simultaneously saying ‘no’ to everything else I could have been doing during the eight hours I will spend preparing the talk, and the four hours I will spend at their church on Sunday. No to family time, no to my other full time work obligations, no to recreation and rest. Economists call this ‘opportunity cost’.
It dawned on him as we talked that he had a habit of saying ‘yes’ to every ministry opportunity he was asked to do–yes to every preaching gig, evangelism outreach, program, you name it. He thought it was his obligation, he said, to ‘make the most’ of his time. But what he hadn’t yet acknowledged was that every time he said ‘yes’, he was simultaneously saying ‘no’, including to his young family. And the strain on them was beginning to show.
So our discussion on fruitful longevity (a phrase I have borrowed from the wonderful Phil Strout) was a timely one, as it turns out. Armed with the truth that ‘a yes is never just a yes’, he is equipped to begin to practice thinking intentionally about whether he really wants to say ‘no’ to the activities the potential ‘yes’ would replace…including being intentional about prioritizing his relationships and family time.
And, hopefully, the ‘teacher’ will take some of his own advice…and remember that a yes is also always a no to something else. This is our greatest challenge here…there is a never-ending parade of ‘good’ things to invest in, and we have to continually remind ourselves of our priorities, and that we have God-given limits to our capacity.