Pastor’s Corner September 22nd, 2022
“…opportunities are often disguised as problems…” John C. Maxwell
In a recent Minute with Maxwell the presenter John Maxwell discussed the word “opportunities.” He shared his reflections on why more people do not embrace the opportunities that come their way. While many people do, he suspects that many of us do not because “…opportunities are often disguised as problems…” and who wants problems. As he said, once we see a problem we are inclined to run in the opposite direction. Maxwell suggested that we have to unwrap the problem to discover the opportunity. The challenge for many of us is that opportunities are often hidden and we have to work to discover what lies beneath.
His words really struck a chord for me. Personally, I suspect I have missed several great opportunities because I could only see the problem or challenge before me. I also found myself wondering how many opportunities have we missed here at FCC because we were overwhelmed by the challenges and difficulties that seem to scream for attention? Perhaps the challenge for all of us is learning to see the opportunities in past experiences which hopefully leads to being more able to do so in the present moment. As I look back on my life I can also see many times where I chose to embrace the opportunity in spite of the challenges. When I responded to God’s call to serve as a Mission Coworker in the Czech Republic there were many challenges I had to face. I had to pack all my belongings and find suitable long-term storage for them. I had to get rid of a lot of things that could not be placed in long term storage or were no longer needed. I had to decide what was needed in my new home overseas and pack it all to make the transatlantic trip. I had to move half-way across the world, lean about a new culture and learn a new language. I had to leave my friends and family behind. But, the opportunity to live and serve overseas as a Mission Coworker was well worth it! At the time I knew I could overcome the many challenges before me so I could embrace an opportunity of a lifetime.
So, what are some of the challenges we have overcome to embrace unforeseen opportunities here at FCC? In many ways I think the ways in which we dealt with the many challenges presented during the pandemic illustrate this point. While faced with many new and unprecedented challenges, we were able to face them and find the opportunities beneath them. We were one of the first mainline Protestant churches in our community to resume in person worship. In part, we were able to do so because we have a spacious sanctuary that enabled us to provide a safe worship space in which we could physically distance and still gather for in-person worship. We were able to make a challenging situation into an opportunity to worship safely. Another challenge we often bemoan is the small number of people we have here at FCC who are active in the life and leadership of our congregation. However, what if we saw this reality as an opportunity. The small numbers in our faith community provides opportunities for intimacy and building relationships. Larger churches have to create small groups to build community and we already have that opportunity built in to our community. Sometimes it is the challenges of others that enable us to perceive opportunities for service. The Outreach Team has discovered that the students, parents, faculty and staff at McPhee Elementary School nearby face many challenges. Our congregation has worked with them before and we have learned of ongoing needs in that community that we may be able to help meet. Their challenges provided new ways to discover opportunities for service for us. We also hope to discover ways to build and re-build relationships with that community.
I suspect each of us can think of many ways in which we have faced the challenges before us, as individuals and as a community, that have led us to find opportunities we never imagined existed. May such a spirit of discovery, led by God’s wisdom, guide us as we move into the future.
With love and joy, Pastor Karen