Do your best to speed Zenas the lawyer and Apollos on their way; see that they lack nothing. And let our people learn to devote themselves to good works, so as to help cases of urgent need, and not be unfruitful. Titus 3:13-14
There is a Bible verse you don’t see every day. Even a pretty good Bible trivia contestant would probably not have Zenas the lawyer on the tip of his tongue in answer to a question in the bonus round. All lawyer jokes aside, the fact is that people like Zenas have always played a critical role in the functioning of the Church and its mission. Not only do congregations need lay leaders, they need the laity’s various secular skills in order to function in this world. And those skilled lay leaders need to exemplify a life of faith and service.
Who knows what important legal work Zenas the lawyer might have done for the fledging Christian Church? For all we know, the world would be a completely different place today if not for Zenas’s skill in winning some argument before the secular authorities on behalf of the persecuted Christians. Or maybe he was just a good organizer of mission trips because he understood all the practical, legal matters involved with going from place to place. Whatever it was, St. Paul urged St. Titus to make sure Zenas had everything he needed.
Here at St. Paul’s in Munster we have been blessed for many years to have someone with formidable skills in the secular arena serving the congregation. Karen Hott used to manage Carson’s department store, overseeing well over two hundred employees. To be effective at that level of management, one must have a pretty large and wide combination of skills. There are HR-considerations, finances and accounting, corporate and government legalese to be deciphered, the planning and organizing, and the interpersonal skills necessary to keep everyone on task. Like Zenas the lawyer, Karen has been using those rare secular skills and experiences in service to the people of God.
When I came here seven years ago I could tell right away as an outsider looking in that Karen was the nerve center of the organization. That’s a great blessing and in some ways a danger. In fact, in one of our first one-on-one meetings I told her that because she was so very capable, she was almost too important to the day-to-day functioning of the institution. The congregation relied on her because we knew we could. But we would be hard pressed to deal with her absence should she retire or move away. Consequently, years ago Karen and I agreed that she would work on cataloging her various roles and duties such that when the time came for her to hand off the job to someone else we would have a fighting chance to experience a smooth transition.
Well, that time has come. Much to the chagrin of the staff, Karen has decided to retire in 2021. Everyone who has benefitted from the mission and ministry of St. Paul’s owes her a debt of gratitude. Her skills and tireless efforts on behalf of this place and her interest in and dedication to the welfare of every member of this congregation has made such blessings possible.
Thankfully, we have been planning for this transition, and Karen, who knows the ins and outs of human resource transitions more than most, has generously offered to provide us with plenty of overlap. The new Business Manager will have many months of shadowing her and learning the ropes before taking over. That is a tremendous blessing to St. Paul’s and to the next Business Manager. We have every reason to believe that God will continue to equip and provide His Church with skilled servant-leaders to keep the mission and ministry of the Gospel running strong. If you or someone you know would be interested in filling the position of Business Manager of St. Paul’s, please look for the call for resumes in this week’s bulletin.
Rev. Peter Speckhard, Senior Pastor at St. Paul's Ev. Lutheran Church, Munster, Indiana