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It's All in the Way You Frame It (Sep, 03, 2021)

I once read a great article about parenting that emphasized the importance of framing. The article basically said that the role of a good parent is to learn to frame the events in our loved one’s life. If we frame only the mistakes, our children will see their lives as failures. But if we frame only the good things, they may not understand the difference between right and wrong. The key to good parenting is in HOW we frame things.

I think the same could be said about leadership. What and how we frame events in the life of the organization we lead, is a critical task, especially when we are going through what we call “liminal space”…that time in our organizational life where we really have no clue what tomorrow will bring. Especially in times like the pandemic.

Last week I heard an incredible story that had all to do with framing. It was a story told by Lisa Marshal. Lisa is and expert in helping folks manage early onset Alzheimer’s. In the story, Lisa shares that her husband had Alzheimer’s, and that at one point in their life together, things got so bad that her husband couldn’t even recognize himself in the mirror! As you can imagine, these were difficult days. But one of the things that Lisa started to do was try NOT to frame her life in the past. If she framed her life with her husband based on “what was” instead of on “what is” she would always be living a life full of regret. This realization came to her in one clear moment in the life with her husband.

It happened one day when they were watching TV together. They were watching a show where a couple was getting married. As they were watching, Lisa noticed her husband get kind of shy and quiet and then he burst out with these words: “Let’s do it!” Lisa didn’t understand. “Do what?” Her husband said, “Get married.” And then he got shy again, and he said, “Well, you do like me don’t you. I mean I know I like you. Why not get married?”

Now the old Lisa would have taken this the wrong way. She would have been horrified that her husband had forgot that they were even married. But the new Lisa, who had learned to live life in the present, rolled with it. She was touched that her husband loved her enough to want to marry her! And so, she called up her pastor and arranged a marriage! She got married to her husband a second time!

I just love this story, and I think it teaches us kind of the way we need to work through Covid-19 in the church. Our tendency is going to be to compare what is happening at the church now with what used to be. But if we do that, I think we are just setting ourselves up for failure. A better approach is to find a new way to frame victories. Find a new matrix on which to see our failures and successes.

Last week, for instance, I visited with two folks who are considering joining the church. One, is actually willing to take a lead in our coordinating board. The other is gifted in song and the arts and would like to help me look at our worship service in a creative way. How cool is that!

Last week I had 2 groups in our church come to me with new ministries for our church. One in the area of missions, and another in the area of congregational care! How wonderful! We are starting to find our “ministry” legs again!

Now, we could take these 4 incidents and map them over what was happening 2 years ago and say “Well, two years ago we had all this going…”

Or we can, instead, celebrate these events as signs of wonder and awe that our God is truly doing a new thing at Bear Creek. It’s all in the framing.

Your pastor, learning to re-frame and re-frame and re-frame all over again, Brook

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