Open Doors

Featuring Darlene Zschech Posted on March 10, 2010

APART FROM WHEN I’m writing, I like to have my door open. Whether it’s at an office or at home, I like that open feeling, so that friends feel welcome to just come on in. When I was working in our church offices, I also loved to have my door open, apart from the first few weeks of a new college term when overseas stu- dents would walk past slowly to get a good look in! Sometimes I felt like I should charge a fee and raise some dollars for missions!

As funny as that sounds, I became increasingly aware of the fact that for many of the guys and gals coming through, many who are without strong role models in the natural, are looking for far more than understanding how to lead worship, but they want to know how to live life. I discovered this many years ago at one of our conferences, when I opened up the floor for questions.

There were a couple of nicely packaged questions regarding musical transitions in worship, and myself and others answered to the best of our ability. But then, after an uncomfortable silence, one of the delegates said, “Can I ask something of a more personal nature?”

“Sure”, I replied, wondering where this would go. But seriously, if you have nothing to hide, you shouldn’t feel nervous.

Well, this guy started asking about the tension he was feeling between expectation from leadership, versus expectation from home, and the conversation that followed was Godly and not at all aggressive, AND it opened up a huge amount of ques- tions that people don’t know who to ask or how to ask. We answered him by say- ing that he had to take responsibility for home by NOT playing church off against his family, and that healthy conversations needed to be had to put things right.

As leaders we should always consider the outfall of what we ask people to do BE- FORE we ask it as, because people are so kind hearted, they will often say yes to honour us, and home takes a back seat again. I am all for throwing people in the deep end, getting them to serve HARD, but not at the expense of others.

The questions continue thick and fast to this day. They want to know how to get married and stay married. They want to know how to stay on fire for the things of God and how to not get weary. They want to know how to run their finances, they want to know how to run a home, how to cook, they want to know when the right time is to have children, and they want to know now! They want to know what the Bible says about homosexuality, about divorce, about tithing, about the Kingdom of God; they want to know how to handle success, and how to handle disappointments.

And so the ‘open door’ philosophy was born. Our lives were available to be read, to be followed, to be questioned. And I started to arm myself with Biblical answers for everyday situations. AND, I learned quickly that I didn’t have to be the expert, I just had to do what I could, always pray with people, and point them to Christ and make sure I had enough margin in my day to be more available. When needed. On purpose.
In the end it’s all about loving the people, being a good shepherd, and being aware of other things that may be going on in their private world so you can be a support.

Being available for the team was probably the greatest challenge for Mark and I personally, not just because there are only so many hours in a day, but because over the years I’ve become quite precious of my time with family. But being available is such a gift to someone who is looking for a mentor leader, just needing someone to show them the way.

One of the great ways to connect with people is just to learn to linger. Don’t always be the first one to leave, but look forward to hanging around a little while after a service, actually PLAN to stay back after a rehearsal, whatever it may be, and LISTEN to what people are saying. Don’t look past them to check out what’s going on in the background.

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