I’ll Manage!

Drexel Rayford, Support Team Network “Manager” or “Advocate, as the case may be.

It came to my attention the other day that my name doesn’t appear anywhere as the “manager” of the Support Team Network.  I’d like to say that’s because I’m an incredibly humble guy and don’t care a thing about getting credit for anything.  Alas, that isn’t the case.  It boils down to simple incompetence: I overlooked it.

So, I decided that I’d change that.  My name now appears in the contact information in the lower left of the website’s side bar so if anyone wants to know what we’re up to here in the Support Team Nation, they can call ME!

A word about my title, “Support Team Network Manager.”  The word “manager” attached to my name probably elicits gales of laughter from people who’ve known me throughout my pastoral career.  I’ve never been a good detail person.  In fact, I’ve earned the reputation of not being able to organize my way out of a wet paper bag and grow tremendously impatient when sitting at a desk surrounded by walls with no windows.  It’s probably par for the course that I’d overlook attaching my name to the Support Team website.

The truth is, I’m the Support Team Advocate.  I advocate for this method here at Support Team Nation because it’s a great way to overcome so much that plagues us in modern American society.  When people assemble themselves into communities of intentional care, which is precisely what a Support Team is, it goes a long, practical way at healing the ill effects of loneliness and isolation.

And, as the Support Team Advocate, I get to travel all over the place letting people know what we’ve come to recognize here at UAB Hospital: though our medical center is great at finding cures for all kinds of diseases, our cures can’t mature, can’t take root, will be less effective if the people who receive our curative efforts don’t have a body of people at home who surround them with acceptance, care, concern, and love.

That’s really all these support teams are – ways of making sure that care and love aren’t random in the community, but that there are people who know how to organize themselves so that these things actually happen!

The truth is, that’s not anything I can “manage.”  I can tell people about our 10 best practices, teach them about what we’ve discovered works and doesn’t work in supporting people when they come home from the hospital, and give them encouragement.  But every one who has gotten involved using our methods has taken them, adapted them, and in many cases, improved upon them in ways I could never have imagined.  If I’d tried to manage any of that, I might have ruined it!

So, when you see my name on the website now, give me a call if you have any questions.  I know people who can answer them!  That’s how I manage.

By Drexel Rayford

Drexel has been senior pastor of four churches in Kentucky and Virginia, a psychiatric ward chaplain, denominational bureaucrat, and an erstwhile indie singer/songwriter/story-teller and seeker of authentic human vocation. Currently, Drexel is working at the University of Alabama at Birmingham Medical Center in the capacity of The Support Team Network manager, a hospital-based community partnership aimed at nurturing healing communities for discharged patients. He loves kayaking, road cycling, hiking, and all kinds of photography, but he loves his wife Vicki and blended family of three adult children more. He holds a Ph.D. in the Psychology of Religion and a pastoral counseling certificate from the University of Louisville, Department of Psychiatry.

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