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I never heard of ZOOM until I became a District Superintendent three years ago. Learning the technology that the Appointive Cabinet uses proved to be one of the hardest learning curves. We are heavily invested in communicating through a program called TEAMS. Video meetings can be done either in TEAMS or ZOOM. At the time, ZOOM seemed like the easier choice. Looking at it now, though, I’m not so sure this is true. The advantage of using ZOOM for most of our video meetings became more obvious during the pandemic. There has been a ZOOM bloom of video meetings! While many people were introduced to ZOOM this year, I’ve been using it for three years.

My first ZOOM meetings were filled with anxiety. Where did I see the invitation? What if it doesn’t connect? How do I get the sound to work? Why isn’t the video coming on? Most of the time I would go on half an hour early to make sure I had time to trouble-shoot if it didn’t work. Now, three years later, I usually try to get on two minutes early. Often times I cut it even closer. During these years, I’ve never shared my ZOOM secret. Does anyone else have ZOOM secrets?

I was already a District Superintendent when we moved to our current house. We moved the week after Thanksgiving in 2017. Being a District Superintendent ramped up my schedule way beyond what I expected. It was a bit of a shock to this home body! We still haven’t fully un-packed from the move. This is most obvious in our garage. My home office, though, also didn’t get fully unpacked. For almost three years, the floor has been filled with boxes, and items I needed to go through. The great thing about ZOOM is my camera doesn’t show the floor! It also doesn’t show my desk, which is usually stacked with papers. I always smiled when people made comments about their room/office not looking as good as everyone else’s rooms/offices. We rarely see the whole picture!

When we look at other people, we also rarely see the whole picture. This is true both when we are comparing our lives with others, and when we are judging other people. While I was pastoring a church in Alaska, I remember a couple asking, “Why are we the only ones who have problems?” At first I thought they were joking. They weren’t joking. They seemed surprised when I told them everyone has problems (then they left the church). It’s easy for us to miss the struggles other people are dealing with. It is best for us to be slow to compare, and even slower to judge!

So many challenges are hard to see. When it’s happening to us, we are acutely aware of the issue. How do we want other people to respond to us? The fall of 2018 comes to mind when I had a kidney stent for over one hundred days in a row, along with four procedures for a massive Staghorn kidney stone. Looking at me, I looked fine (though I did have a couple of people tell me I was extremely pale). This was my reality for the entire 2018 charge conference season. I was miserable! The only way people could know what I was going through was if I risked telling them. Often times, it just doesn’t feel comfortable telling people about our problems. Me being me, I wrote all about it!

When it comes to other people, let’s start with a position of being kind. Let’s assume (yes, I know what assume stands for) people are dealing with difficult issues. If we are going to err, how about erring on the side of being too kind? Our world is in desperate need of major doses of kindness!

Your brother on the journey, Mark

Further thoughts: It’s amazing how effective ZOOM webinars have been in helping me to clean my home office! I have to retire, though, in order to get the garage cleaned. I have one week left as an active clergy person, and one more “Mark’s Musings” in this role. See you next week!

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