In the Dating Years

by Curt Taipale

When my wife, Jeanna, and I were first dating, I was working full time as the Audio Director at a church. I was committed to doing whatever it took to get the job done, and that meant a lot of really long hours, often well into the night doing recording sessions, followed by early morning tech calls for weekend services, and attending to the needs of lots of other ministry areas calling out for attention.

The only breath of sanity that I got during those times was to see Jeanna walk into the studio, bringing me dinner or lunch or a snack. (It would appear that I like food a lot, and she figured that out early in our relationship.)

Easily one-third of my job was spent setting up (or tearing down) the stage for the next service, or for the next recording session. Over the years she became really adept at wrapping mic cables. She can wrap cables faster and better than any other church tech I've ever served alongside.

To have her by my side helping me through that process meant the world to me. I was an underpaid church sound tech. I didn't have much money. (There's a song in there.) And I was working all the time. So our "dates" if you can call them that were often just the time we spent together at the church, or in the recording studio, or sitting in my car out in the parking lot eating Taco Bell and watching the sunset.

That was a lot of years ago. We celebrated our 30th wedding anniversary last year. Today life is busy with five kids, two dogs and a cat. I still work too much. And I still look back at those early years with fond memories. (Not the overworked underpaid part -- that's another story.)

Unfortunately for Jeanna, I've never been much of a Valentine's Day type of guy. I don't remember the last time I gave her flowers for Valentine's Day (though I expect she does). But I love her more today than even in those early days when we were just starting and trying to figure out life.

To the young (or not so young) church tech types who happened to stumble onto this piece, may I offer some advice. If you find yourself "living" at church (so to speak) because you're working all the time, take a step back and reconsider. I have friends today serving on church production staff who are doing what I did in those early years, and I want to speak into their lives and tell them "Don't do it! Your church doesn't own you. They will suck the life out of you if you let them."

Now church leaders don't do that to their techs intentionally. (Well okay, some do, but such bad managers are rare.) We tend to do it to ourselves. And if you're a volunteer, you have to learn to say "no" to some events. You're not omnipresent and you can't do it all. As the saying goes, "all you can do is all you can do." If you don't learn to say "no", you will eventually burn out. I did. Twice.

Still, work you must. The job still needs to get done on some level. So if you're dating, or a young married couple, teach your girlfriend / boyfriend / spouse how to wrap cables. Take time to enjoy your favorite fast food meal sitting in your car out in the parking lot. Sunset or sunrise. Surprise them with a basket of fresh baked muffins. Sense which Starbucks drink they want without having to ask. Pray together. Sort it all out together. Be together.

Happy Valentine's Day Dear. I love you. -CT

Curt & Jeanna Taipale

Copyright 2016 Taipale Media Systems, Inc.