A year ago my nose was pressed deep into the pages of The Leadership Challenge. Not being one to read a lot of books on leadership, I found affirmation within these pages. Affirmation that, at least by someone's standards, some things were very right here at Chestnut Ridge.
For starters, the diversity and unity of our team found loud affirmation. Not that I ever recall setting out to create such a team, but I do recall setting out to create an environment that felt more like "team" than "hierarchy." We're all in this thing called ministry together, and everyone pitches in to make it work.
Chestnut Ridge is a work environment like no other. It is a non-profit business, a ministry of the church, and a community of people banded together around the great goal of making the love of Christ visible in our world. This environment attracts a wide variety of people who come with an even wider variety of reasons. Some are tired of working for "the man" and want to do something meaningful with their life - make a difference in the world. Some come here to be in a community where feeling God's love is, perhaps, just a bit easier than other places they've been. And, others come because they need a job to make ends meet and find, sometimes to their surprise, what a healing and restorative place Chestnut Ridge can be.
At the risk of embracing one of the seven deadly sins, I am proud of the community of folks who serve at Chestnut Ridge - those who are paid and those who volunteer. Together, we create a team, a real community, that is making a difference in our world. It's hard for me when people want to give me the credit for their child's summer camp experience, their retreat group's successful event, or their student's incredible field trip. It's not really modesty - I'll take credit when it's due - it's more the realization that Chestnut Ridge is now so large that I cannot be intimately involved with each camper, each retreatant, each afterschooler, and each student. I long to be. I miss being that stage in our ministry's life-cycle. But, something wonderful has happened. A vision and a mission unifies former strangers, creating friendships, community and common purpose. The few have become the many and more continue to join in. What was a spark has become a fire. We all enjoy it's warmth.
The leadership challenges are different now. From my early days here where my hands were directly in every program, every family, and every meal, I've had to step back. Up may be a better description. I find myself in the balcony these days, looking out over the varied thriving ministries here, led by people who share a common love of God, others and the outdoors.
And, from the balcony I can see the whole of the ministry and glimpse it's future. And, it's exciting! I see where we're going - new programs, new spaces, and new people - the result of the gifts given by countless persons who have served and who continue to serve at Chestnut Ridge.
In the next blogs, I'm going to focus on the values that this community shares...the values that have brought us this far and that will take us even further in making the love of Christ visible in our world.