An Ode to My Donaghy; The Dance of a Senior Pastor & a Children’s Pastor

Like Liz Lemon on NBC’s “30 Rock”, I too have been richly blessed by the professional friendship of a suave, very-opposite-of-me mentor who has been in the biz for quite a while. For nearly a decade, similar scenes of me rushing into his office to be either picked up or patted on the back have occurred. He has encouraged me to grow my position, use our “company” as a writing laboratory, and to “get a life outside of work, so I can survive work”.

I have sat across from him many a meeting studying his techniques with hopes of one day replicating them. He’s keenly aware of the undertones and red-tape of our faith community. His stealthy strategies never cease to amaze. While he’s much more humble than Jack Donaghy his confidence is rooted in his calling and I feel every church employee should get a cup of coffee with this guy.

As Lemon beautifully illustrates, one’s vocation can leave her high on a mountain one minute, then feeling hopelessly ill-equipped the next. A kind mentor is needed to survive this roller-coaster. I know I would have burnt out years ago if not for the confidence and creative freedom from my senior pastor.

Similar to Donaghy, Dave would humbly brush off the label of a mentor at first-but for different reasons. There have been times when he denied being my boss when introduced, “I’m a work colleague”, he would say, “a teammate”. I realize now that instead of me gluing my identity to him and striving to write my story as his, he was implicitly nudging me to trust myself more. What twenty-something doesn’t need this lesson?! Instead of using my days to impress him as the authority in my “real-world” life, he desired for me to focus this energy on impressing the only one worth imitating -Christ.

The time has come, in fact, some would say it’s long overdue. It’s time for an ode to my Doneghy-an ode to my senior pastor. I shall no longer see you as a master and I the young grasshopper. I shall now see you as a friend. Know that whatever type of servant-leader I am in my fifties and sixties will be greatly due to serving alongside you in my twenties and thirties. Before the relationship status is altered, and we become equals, here are the top ten things I have learned from you.

  1. Make the white elephant in a meeting the centerpiece on the table so everyone can get a good look at it.
  2. Never triangulate between teammates-ever. (DON’T DO IT!)
  3. Quirky humor has a life-giving and morale-boosting effect at even the most life-sucking, tactical and operational meeting.
  4. Strive to love (really love) every member of your team, and may your prayer-life be infused with this love.
  5. Assume the best in people.
  6. Celebrate your teammate’s strengths, and honor their weaknesses. Realign your expectations of them based on these so they are set up for success.
  7. Make a point to acknowledge the sacrifices your teammates make-in private AND in public.
  8. Know how to intentionally use silence as a tool for powerful conversations or brainstorming sessions.
  9. Timing is EVERYTHING; new programs, funding, the flow of formative worship-it’s everything.
  10. There is a healthy balance of an “open-door” policy and also maintaining healthy work-life boundaries and you, Sir, wrote the book on it.