Well, not funny really, more like a tale born out of deep tragedy and personal pain that may possibly have good results in the end.
There is a room in our church that has been set aside as the "C.E. Office" It is an office in name only. No one uses it as an office. It probably resembles more of a storage center. When our talented painter created the fantastic bucolic mural that adorns our breezeway, she used the C.E. office door as the horse barn door (complete with horse). "Barn" is a good description. Over the years, I have cleaned and straightened and organized, with limited results. Either some stuff gets out of place, or I don't finish the task, or more stuff gets stuffed in there. For example, when I was told that the tape library archives had to be moved or disposed of, I put them in the C.E. office. A rather large storage cabinent was slated for removal, so all the items in it were moved to the C.E. office. And on it goes. The result is no place to walk or move.
Fast forward: Vacation Bible School is fast approaching. We needed some sturdy, industrail looking shelves to put on the stage for our set. Hey, let's get the ones out of the C.E. office! No problem, except for the fact that the shelves are packed full and there are two or three solid layers of boxes, items, and debris. So I set up two long tables in the hallway and engaged in the task of clearing the area in front and around the two shelves and then clearing the shelves themselves. After an hour or two of work, the shelves were free. I navigated them out of the still overwhelmingly cluttered office/barn/storage closet and we used them for our stage set for VBS. And since all the stuff couldn't sit in the hallway all week, I shoved it all back in the "office."
That's when I had a brain storm. After VBS was over, I had to get the shelves back in the C.E. office. That meant I had to clear out the stuff I had just put back in. Soooo...why not just empty everything out and do a massive sorting and cleaning project, putting things back bit by bit? So on Friday, I told our Craft Director (who was using the sizeable youth room that sits next to the C.E. Office) to leave her craft tables up. My plan was to whip through all this stuff on Saturday, leaving a lean, mean children's ministry office machine!
Understand, that VBS is a physically demanding week. Since it was in the evening, it made for a week of very long days. I slept in on Saturday, but I knew I had to get started. So Saturday morning, I headed to the church and began unloading items onto the tables in the youth room. It took all morning and part of the afternoon just to get the stuff out of the office. I dusted and vacuumed (so that's what the floor looks like!) and marvelled at just how big the C.E. office actually was. I put the shelves back in the room, took a late lunch break, and began the task of purging the "stuff." My criteria was simple: unless it had clear historic value, was irreplaceable, or would likely be used in the future, out it would go. This wasn't easy, as I subscribe to the "this might come in handy one day" school of hoardng. But I determined to be brutal and reduce years of accumluation to a manageable size.
But as daylight turned to darkness, the piles had not shrunk that much. I headed home at about 11 p.m., in order to finish my final prep for Sunday morning.
The Sunday Morning activities went well. The youth group was very understanding and forgiving of the mess in their room, especially when I mentioned I could get them donuts. I took my wife to lunch, came home, changed clothes, and returned to the church. My gaze was weary, but steady. My determination was strained, but still strong. My organizational skills were peaked. I threw things away that some people, if they knew about it, would hang me in effigy. I faltered a couple of times, the bone crushing weariness and fatigue catching up with me. But finally, about 9:30 p.m., I put the last thing away, cleaned up the youth room, and went home.
Now to be honest, the project is not done yet. I have two boxes labeled "to be sorted." I have not touched the filing cabinent, nor the files full of older curriculum. But compared to how it was, it is much, much, much better.
So why did I spend so much time on this project when I should have been at home resting and recouperating frm VBS? Three reasons:
- It will help me get better organized.
- There is more to me than a messy, cluttered office.
- Should I be definitely removed from children's ministries, I want my successor to have better.