Saturday, December 15, 2007

balancing life at the end of 2007

Two serious questions Steve. How do you do manage such a hectic schedule (i.e. family, church, teaching, own time etc)? Secondly, Why do you do it?? A comment made by Mark in relation to this post.

First a story. I moved to Christchurch at the start of 2004, to be senior/change agent pastor at Opawa Baptist 3 days/week and Lecturer in Practical Theology at Bible College of New Zealand 2 days/week. We were just about done with my 3rd interview with the Opawa Call Committee, when a Baptist Union consultant, who had walked the church through the Call process, said he had two questions.

The first was for me: Was I just using Opawa Baptist as a stepping stone to an academic career? The second was for Opawa: Steve Taylor had some competencies around emerging church. So would they share him? Those questions provide a frame for my current stage of life: grounded in the local church, yet shared.

This year I have had 21 speaking engagements outside Christchurch (on top of regular preaching amid a 5 congregational model and lecturing at BCNZ). That’s one speaking engagement a fortnight, and includes academic papers, preaching, coaching, conference and keynote speaking. So to the question – why do I do it? Firstly because I’m asked. It doesn’t mean I say yes to everything. I often ask questions to clarify audience and expectations and check it is in my “zone” – church and mission (I made one wrong call this year). Second because it’s good for the local church. It sends constant signals to Opawa that they exist with a Kingdom view, not only for their own sake, but for the sake of the world. I’m also committed to team, and that I think that needs to be modelled by both absence as well as presence. Thirdly because most times I learn and am enriched. Fourthly, because feedback seems to suggest that it is useful. I gauge that feedback in a number of ways – feel in the room, questions asked, talks over coffee, thankyou letters.

So how do you do manage such a hectic schedule? Firstly, all invites get passed by my wife and she helps me decide. Secondly, I work for BCNZ Wednesday and Thursday, and Opawa Tuesday and Friday and somehow that division of days gives me a framework to juggle invites and map out my schedule. Thirdly, Monday is day off and I very, very rarely, do anything on that day. Fourthly, I use the time in the air to journal and think. Last week on the way to Auckland I got my preaching plan for the first half of 2008 nailed. There is something about being uninterrupted at 30,000 feet which I find incredibly helpful. Fifthly, when I’m present, I try to be fully present. (And the flipside, when I’m gone, I’m gone). I try to practise Incarnation, to be fully looking for God among whoever I am with, be it in a church or a lecture room or a speaking place. Sixthly, I treat myself and the family. Most groups pay something and that goes toward a family book buying session at Borders, a CD, a painting, a dinner out etc – stuff that will enrich me for what has been given out. I talk lots with my kids about what I do and why. I pass on feedback to them. At times I have said no to things based on their input. Seventhly, I moved into this season having completed a PhD. The bibliography named near 550 books I had “read.” So part of this season of my life includes drawing down and integrating that type of input. That’s simply a seasonal thing. I am due for a sabbatical in second half of next year and that will be a micro-season in which I get to fill up some wells left a bit neglected, for example writing wells and reading wells.

Can I sustain this? Do I want to sustain this? I don’t know. Perhaps not long term. Essentially I have 3 roles: pastor, lecturer, speaker/thinker/writer. At some time down the track one of these might go. In the meantime, it is a very fertile mix. I am a better pastor because I think (as lecturer) and reflect (by being asked to speak), a better lecturer because I pastor and speak, a better speaker because I am grounded in a congregation. It’s a pretty unique mix. Even in missional circles, most books are not written by current practitioners. So I am keen to hold the mix as long as possible.

Hope that helps Mark.

Posted by steve at 05:55 PM


  1. To many people out there in emerging land do lots of speaking and hardly any doing… which, when it all hits the fan, is pretty much worthless. I guess it can be temping to live the leather armchair dream (or synthetic in your case Steve) and sit around espousing theories – but unless it’s grounded in real life, it tends to revert into idealogical hot air. So try keep those busy feet of yours in at least two camps!

    Comment by Spanky — December 16, 2007 @ 8:56 pm

  2. thanks spanky. it will be the pastoring that i will give up last (and pastoring need not be as hard/complex as opawa, it could be back to planting something simple and close to the ground in say kaikoura). i just don’t see how you can wander around talking future church stuff without being grounded in context. the culture has shifted even in the last few years don’t you think. i mean who would have thought that Duran Duran would come back in the form of Shapeshifter!


    Comment by steve — December 16, 2007 @ 9:16 pm

  3. I once almost got skinned alive for calling them New Zealand’s answer to Kenny G…

    Comment by Spanky — December 16, 2007 @ 11:37 pm

  4. WOW! I didn’t expect such an honest and upfront answer. I really appreciate you opening up this part of your life Steve. I think it can be very easy to just see you as black and white words in an internet matrix however, it is important for us who visit your blog, who interact with you (both agreeing and disagreeing at times) to realise that their is a person behind the keyboard!

    Comment by mark — December 20, 2007 @ 12:54 pm

  5. Well mark, you did say it was a serious question.

    I actually think that behind all internet words, not just my words, are real people. I think that awareness of humanity should be essential to the way all people, esp Christians, treat each other.


    Comment by steve — December 20, 2007 @ 8:43 pm

RSS feed for comments on this post.

Sorry, the comment form is closed at this time.