Sunday, July 19, 2009

Confessions of an STP

Jenny was released today from her calling as Primary President. She served faithfully for over three years. The Bishop told her that she wouldn't be on vacation for long because she's one of the few who does stuff. In other words she's an STP. You know - Same Ten People? Every Ward has them. They're the ones who are always there, always helping out. They're the ones you call on in a pinch and who can put things back together in a jiffy. STPs don't need prodding and never drop the ball.

Every Ward has them and every Bishop loves them. Who wouldn't? How could the Ward function without them?

I suppose people see me as an STP, certainly my sweetheart does. That makes me a little squeamish because I don't feel entirely comfortable with the concept. You see being an STP is not always what it seems. We easily admire, make use of and count on our STPs and there's the rub.
STPs aren't perfect either. In fact if they are like me, while they appear to be the foundation of the Ward, they can actually be an hindrance to the work.

As an STP I expected perfect performance from those around me. My feelings were often fraught with agravation toward those who couldn't perform to the level of my expectations. I taught myself to expect that they wouldn't and for the most part stopped using them. I was like the woman I knew who couldn't stand the kids in the kitchen. She'd rather do all of the kitchen duties herself, to her satisfaction, than to exercise the effort and patience required to teach her kids much desired kitchen skills. I wasn't building the Kingdom. I was too careful of my own resume'.

As an STP I often felt underappreciated for my efforts and hung around to finish the chores, not because they needed to be done, but rather to collect the receipts due me in the form of accolades. I knew they couldn't get along without me (which was a lie) and felt that no one adequately acknowledged that "fact."

I had myself convinced that the work couldn't go on in our Ward or Stake, without my magnificent efforts. I felt that others including my leaders were often in the way and that left to my own talents and achievements things would run much better than they were. I had no concept of the undeniable fact that God is in this work and that He will accomplish it not only without my help, but inspite of it. I was after all, capable, well trained, motivated and on the job. Too often I had thoughts akin to, "If I were Bishop things would operate better."

What motivated me? I was convinced that I had to earn my way into Heaven and that I was fully capable to doing so, at any cost, against any odds. I had the right stuff.

The irony is, that I might as well have been an antagonistic infiltrator. I didn't understand the Atonement at all. I didn't have charity for those less capable than I. I felt misused and abused. I felt self-righteous, an oxymoron if there ever was one. I thought I was indispensable. I thought I was on the right track.

I'm still not perfect, but I've come to understand a few things since my STP days. First, the church is operated by imperfect individuals who are all in different places on the path to perfection. If God wanted it otherwise He'd operate it Himself with a legion of Angels for his staff. This is not a flaw, problem or "fly in the ointment." It is part of the plan.

I've learned that less than perfect performance, even the occasional failure, are also part of the plan. Often those things teach us and build us and the Kingdom better than the flawless ones do. I once had a wonderful, motivating, well designed plan for a Scout Camp. The plan collapsed into utter disaster and from the ashes God created a miracle of unprecendented magnificence.

I've learned that finess and training cannot compensate for a lack of the Spirit and the presence of God's influence on the work. He has declared He will accomplish His work by means of the weak and humble. Time and again I've seen Him do that very thing. My training, my capacities and ulitimately my pride couldn't even approach the possibilites an humble servant could when simply an instrument in the Lord's hands.

I spent pulpit time scolding and shaming the less perfect and setting myself up as some kind of shining example. For that I am most deeply ashamed and have a heart full of regret. Meanwhile, humble, quiet, patient servants of the Lord carried on in quiet ways to bring about righteousness in our little part of the vinyard. No one would call them STPs I guess, but they touched the hearts of our children, wiped away bitter tears, quietly sustained their leaders, cared for their families, served their neighbors, admitted their weakness, lived the same way in private as they did in public, and patiently waited for me to wise up.

The vast majority of STPs are not like me. I really think that they, like Jenny, get it. To you who are like me, take heart. While you may not be as far up the path as you think you are, you are on the path and God will take you where He needs you to be. He will help you find a reason to be humble and if then, humility is what you choose, you will yet accomplish His work.

I'm grateful for STPs. I hope we always have them. I hope I will be one. I hope there are fewer like me and more like my friends Leon, Marquita, Greg, Kirk, Dorraine, Josh, Toni, Jenny, John, Elva, Arvel, Phylis, Paul, Lori, Randall, Billy, Helen, John, Karl, Paula, Maureen, Kim, Wayne, Terrill, Tonya, Eric, Ann, Tami, Kim, Melissa, Dennis, Jon, Julie, Jim, Beverly, Pat, Rosemary, Mary Lou..... this list goes on and on just in my own Ward and since I haven't attended there for five years there are so many I don't know or have overlooked, for which I sincerely appologize. It isn't the Same Ten People after all maybe its the Same Thirty-nine People, or more.....

No comments:

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...