By Peter Niedmann
This month, I celebrate 25 years at my church position in Newington. It is an achievement I’m proud of. But, this hefty chunk of time that I look back on is also a bit sobering. It forces one to reflect on the journey. Aside from the gray hair and extra pounds (!) how have I changed?
One area I’ve tried to improve is my leadership style. How does a director take a group of volunteers and build them into a choir that they are proud to be a part of? In my younger days, I mistakenly tried things I had seen elsewhere: sarcastic, slightly emotional flare-ups meant to intimidate singers. Over time, I abandoned that for something much kinder and more encouraging.
I also learned the value of planning. When I was starting out, my youthful instinct was to “wing it.” Long-term planning seemed like a painful, needless chore. But, over time, I became much more organized with a longer view towards the future. And, I found not only was it easy to plan ahead, it actually produced better results and much less stress.
Another facet of growth through the years: I came to understand that “two heads are better than one.” Perhaps, the insecurity of being young kept me from asking others for help. I didn’t want to appear like I didn’t know what I was doing. As time went by, I became comfortable asking others for their input: “Is this an anthem we should keep or does everyone want to let it go?” “We would love to find a big donor for our concert series–anybody know anybody?” and so on. Much more can be accomplished with a group of smart folks who trust and respect each other.
I quietly cringe when I think back on some of the things I’ve done and said. And I’m so grateful that people were forgiving and gave me the chance to grow and mature. Of course, the work continues. And I look forward to the years ahead with anticipation and gratitude.