Coming to know Tress and being married to her is one of the best things to have happened to me. Our 20th anniversary therefore was a special occasion to me. A few weeks earlier I had wanted to and sort of broadly planned to celebrate the milestone by inviting a few people somewhere for a meal. We couldn’t however, decide on the guest list. We didn’t want too big a group because I always believe in spending meaningful time with your guests but keeping the number small would likely cause some discomfort to some who may be left out. We’ve experienced this unpleasantness before so we decided against doing anything and just have a meal ourselves. I guess that is sad but that is the consequences of not meeting or understanding the expectations of people around us.
It turned out my intention to celebrate the occasion wasn’t marred by just this guest list conundrum.
The night before the occasion I got a thunderbolt in a church board meeting. It came in the form of an accusation that I have not been sincere in my affirmation of the leadership of the pastor and the chairman of the board. My repeated affirmation and call for them to lead was said to be wheeled out only when it suited me. I could not believe what I heard the pastor said and I said to him immediately that I took exception with that statement, and for the rest of the meeting my heart just wasn’t in it. I was trying to work out where I had gone wrong, to cause such a misreading of my intention and sincerity.
I went home after the meeting and decided I could not go on with any sort of roles in the church. Anything one does in exercising leadership in a church, must be done within the leadership structure. I acknowledge the headship of Christ and under him, I acknowledge the leadership of the pastor and also the leadership of the functional head of the governance body, in this case the chair of the board. Every leader in the church needs to accept this and work within it.
For that acknowledgement to be questioned and second guessed, means one can no longer serve in any leadership role. Indeed, any role at all. To date, my statements to the pastor that the second guessing of my affirmation was a problem, went without being responded.
Maybe it is the fact that I constantly asked questions of the pastor. When things go on for months without any resolution and I asked if he discussed the matter with anyone, that didn’t go down too well. When plans come to the board and questions were asked, that didn’t go down too well. Maybe we weren’t meant to ask questions and we were meant to be just blindly supportive. Or maybe I shouldn’t say blindly supportive because that would be negative, so just unquestioned support. Maybe acknowledgement of leadership means we let the leaders do anything they think of. The frustrating thing is there actually were exchanges in response to some of the questions I asked. But then nothing was done and the trail went cold. So the issue perhaps wasn’t that questions were asked.
Indeed I had expressed that my frustration was the lack of communications and visibility of what is happening. Trails go cold. Nothing comes of discussions and plans. What was said would be done wasn’t done. When pursued it becomes touchy. It becomes – somehow – an issue of basic values not being shared. Serious non-communication aside, it feels like the board, which bears principle accountability burden both legally and popularly, has so little visibility of what is happening. When questioned, the retort was it was either aloof and out of touch or uninvolved or unsupportive. It doesn’t make sense but never mind anymore.
Such was the unpleasant experience that George Verwer famously envisaged and warned against. I’d rather not be entangled anymore. I can continue the rest of my sojourn without this farce. Maybe I can enjoy my 21st – Anniversary, not birthday of course – better that way.
- Pastor, what do you do? (pastorjeffcma.wordpress.com)
- Church pastors become atheists – – – click2houston.com (richarddawkins.net)
- Diseased by Religion (new.exchristian.net)
- What are the consequences of clergy turnover? (Part 2) (presbyterian.typepad.com)