LeadingSmart

Practical Stuff for Church Leaders

For the Days When You Just Want To Get The Band Back Together Again

Due to the generosity of some amazing folks, our leadership team was relaxing in an amazing beach side home on the East Cape of the Cabo peninsula in Mexico. It was January 2011, and we had an entire week to think, sleep, plan, talk and share life with each other without the unrelenting schedule that awaited us back home.

When I close my eyes, I can still picture the long table where we shared our meals. It was inlaid with turquoise ceramic pieces, arranged and colorized to form a beautiful beach sunset. The table was outdoor on the patio overlooking the ocean, under a pergola of sorts that was supported by root-wrapped natural logs. Above us, over the table, hung 15 or 20 lantern-like light fixtures, each with a different bulb casting calm shadows over the intimate gathering below.

Looking to the head of the table, I see Mark telling hilarious stories, and Sheila who sat next to him laughing as though it were the first time she’d heard the story. Rob and Michelle were seated next, commenting on the amazing guacamole that Waltz had just crafted. Across from Laura was Jason, who was the master chef for tonight’s meal and was enjoying eating it as much as he had enjoyed making it.

Kem and her husband sat immediately to my left—Kem, easily bouncing from personal conversations to happiness-grunts as she exclaimed several times how much she was enjoying the food, and her husband, quietly observing the whole event with the eyes of a sage who speaks rarely, but with profundity and wisdom when he does. DC and Brooke, with their newborn baby, were seated on my end of the table, next to my wife Faith—who always gravitates toward babies. I watched the whole thing with a mixture of wonder, awe, emotion, and disbelief that God had brought us together, and that I was lucky enough to sit at this table.

This is my team. 

 A team we had worked years to pull together. 

A team that was clicking like never before.

A team that had just spent the past 18-months pouring over, dreaming about and writing a new, and very different vision for our community of faith.

Our hearts were aligned.

I don’t think any of us expected it to end. In our hearts on that night, and in that season, we were going to stand by each other and with each other many years into the future.

But not too long after that, the team began to unravel. We lost DC & Brooke pretty suddenly. None of us saw it coming, and it sucked the wind out of our sails. We still moved ahead and launched the new initiatives, but soon thereafter our leader began questioning whether he really wanted to go down this new road. The vision was quietly dismantled, painted over on the walls and scrubbed from the website, and soon business as usual took root. That caused Rob to look for a different place to serve, and soon after I made the same decision. A few months later Kem left. And recently Jason has moved on to pursue a new dream.

There are nights in the past two years when I have laid awake remembering the "glory days" and wishing they could return. I have wondered where the train went off the rails and whether there was anything I could have done to keep it motoring along. I have relived the hilarious stories, intimate talks, tears, debates, and struggles that we walked through together.

Honestly, there are days when I just want to get the band back together again.

Maybe you’ve had the same thought. Why can’t things be like they used to be?

Perhaps your “band” is your family, back when the kids were little and life was simpler and everyone ate dinner together. You didn’t have to work so hard to find the one week a year when you could get everyone together. Back then, you ate dinner together every night.

But then the kids grew up and went to college and started getting married and establishing their lives. And some of them moved away. And you just want to get the band back together again.

Can’t we just turn back the clock to those days when we were all together, under one roof, playing games and watching TV and going to church together?

But you know it’s not possible. That ship has sailed. 

Or perhaps your “band” is your college experience. You reflect back to the late night conversations in the dorm, and the walks across campus, and the unbelievably deep and intimate and philosophical discussions with people who were closer to you than anyone ever had been. But now you’ve graduated, and your friends are scattered across the country, and you are still trying to figure out your life. And you just wish you could get the band together again.

Those were the days. That’s when life was simple; let’s go back to those days.

The problem with “let’s get the band back together” thinking? It is impossible. Oh, you can have a reunion and tell stories and laugh. But life isn’t static. People have moved on, and it will never be like it was. Sorry for being Mr. Cold Water. That’s just the way it is.

But in the midst of that realization, here are some things I’m learning…

1. We tend to romanticize the past.

When you are reflecting on a healthy relationship in the past, you tend remember the amazing times together, the moments that make you smile. And conversely, you diminish the insanely difficult parts of the relationship or team dynamics. Have you ever noticed the "glory days" always describe the past, and never the present? Yet, there were likely some things that absolutely drove you crazy from which you prayed earnestly for an escape.

2. Change isn’t bad.

Change is hard. Sometimes it takes years to feel “normal” again after a big life change. Ask someone my age whether moving into the empty nest season is hard. Most will say it was more difficult than they could ever imagine, and that no one prepared them for that significant of a life change. But ask most grandparents if it was worth moving through being an empty nester in order to experience grandkids—and they will say they are having the best time of their lives. Change can be very difficult, but it takes us to a new place.

3. Someday you’ll look at today’s team as the band you want to bring back together.

The vantage point of nearly fifty years of life helps me realize how special today is when I look around the table at my new team: Ben, Holly, Sarah, Bob, and William. I realize that we won’t always be together. There will be a time when I’ll be laying awake at night wishing we could get the band back together again. That knowledge must drive us to celebrate every moment. Squeeze every experience you can out of the trusted relationships that you have.

Today you may be surrounded by crying babies or screaming toddlers (or God forbid, both!). All you can see is green poop and messy faces and scars from the toys you trip over—but I guarantee there will be a day when you will only remember the joyful times and you will wish you could get your little band back together again. Don’t miss today’s moments!

It’s okay to reminisce about the past—as long as it isn’t keeping me from cherishing the present. The band isn’t ever getting back together, and if it does, it won’t be like it used to be (has anyone heard The Who recently?).

Cherish every moment. Create memories. Live in the present. Look for those precious experiences that will never be repeated. They don’t seem like a big deal today, but someday you will be wishing you could have those moments to do over.