Day 189: It’s Been An Honour (Helen Cottee)

Today my friend Helen officially stepped down as Worship Pastor at Kerith Community Church.

I’ve worked with Helen for nearly four years. Those four years have been some of the most influential, impactful and shaping years of my life so far and much of that is a result of what Helen has invested into me. There’s so much to be grateful for that I’ll probably forget something and I have to moan about how hard it is to appropriately honour her, but I’ll try anyway.

 I’m grateful to Helen for constantly reminding me to focus on Jesus. As I mentioned yesterday, it can be so easy when working in a worship context for it to become just a job. I had only been a Christian for about three months when Helen became my line manager, so I need to mention my gratitude for the early days when my focus would slowly slip away from Jesus and ever so slightly more in favour of the musical side of things. Helen led so well by example that it was easy to learn from in that respect.

I’m grateful to Helen for her pastoral influence on me. I have been described in the past as ’emotionally deficient’ – particularly in the early days of my faith where, having just finished studies at a music academy where perfection was demanded, I really struggled with the idea of grace. I’m grateful to Helen for helping me to understand every person on the team for who they are, to understand the individual struggles that they might face and to lead with unrelenting compassion especially when that feels impossible. While I still recognise that I have some way to go, I’m infinitely better than I used to be and that is in no small part down to what Helen has invested in me.

I’m grateful to Helen for her personal input into me. For all the meals, conversations, laughter, tears and epic moments that I’ve experienced thanks to Helen and her wonderful family. On that note, I have to express equal gratitude for Dave (Helen’s ridiculously talented and equally emotionally deficient husband) and their children, Will and Meg – two of the cutest youngsters you’ll ever meet. As a family, they have impacted me hugely and have inadvertently taught me so much about parenting, marriage and life in general. They are fantastic.

I’m even grateful to Helen for all the times we’ve conflicted. You see, we have this strange working relationship where we share the same passions for the team and vision for the future but couldn’t have a much more different way of arriving there. Sometimes my opinion wins out; more often, Helen’s opinion wins out and at times, we’ve borderline shouted at each other. There was even a point where it all came to a head and we really, really battled with each other. At the time, I hated it. So much. I think it’s safe to say the feeling was mutual! But in hindsight, I’m so grateful for that. I’ve learnt so much about leadership, so much about worship, so much about how to deal with conflict. I’ve learnt so much about how to voice opinions well and how to address certain personality types. I’ve learnt how to hold my tongue when it’s not my place to say anything and I’ve learnt how to determine the right time to fight my corner. Through our conflicts I’ve grown so much in humility and in wisdom, and for that I’m extremely grateful indeed.

I’m excited to say that my friendship with the Cottee clan is not at an end. This phase of life is over but a new one is just beginning. Helen is working on writing a book now, but in the mean time please follow her blog at www.helencottee.com! I hope you can benefit from her influence as much as I have.

Thanks again Helen 🙂

Quite an old one, but in classic Cottee style, a great Sunday afternoon with friends. From left: Dave, Helen, Meg, Zak, Will and Sam

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