Thursday, February 13, 2014

Vintage CC: Things to Do to Ensure Short, Unhappy, and Ineffective Pastorates

I'll be celebrating the completion of my first year at my current pastorate next week. Not completely coincidentally, I've been thinking about this post from January 2011. A lot of these are from experience rather than observation. I'm glad I managed them well enough at my previous stop, and hope to keep doing so where I am now.

Approach your congregants as being in constant need of corralling and correcting, with no worthwhile ideas or opinions to speak of.

Constantly be jealous of all the wonderful things that your colleagues seem to be able to do in their churches, and grumble about how you'll never be able to do anything like that where you are.

Read and talk about making changes, but don't ever test the waters or put together a plan on how to do it.

Think of yourself as finally the pastor who's going to come in and show them how to do things the right way after decades and even centuries of getting it wrong.

Don't get too comfortable, and constantly have one foot out the door for when that better opportunity comes along.

Remain as aloof as possible from your congregation: never accept invitations to coffee or dinner, or to parties or baseball games. Remain in constant fear that such things lead directly to affairs or your exploitation of them.

Never celebrate the church's accomplishments. Only mention things that they need to change or fix, or that just seem hopeless.

As early as when you accept a new call, tell yourself that this is only temporary until you can start your "real" ministry someplace else.

Assume that all the cutting-edge things that you learned in seminary will immediately be embraced by your parishioners.

Always approach your people in terms of your needing to manage them and never consider the possibility that you may one day love them.

Think solely in terms of "me" and "them," never in terms of "us."

Operate under the assumption that you are the only one capable of fulfilling tasks; never entrust projects to other people.

Constantly decide that your time off can wait since there's still this list of things that you need to get done before you could consider a day off, vacation or continuing education event.

Bring back that awesome new program from that invigorating conference you attended, and force it into your context without laying groundwork or adapting it. Then when it doesn't work, blame the church for being rigid or complacent.

Take every piece of criticism--especially that which is offered constructively--personally. Bottle up your frustration, shrink away from taking a risk the next time, act out in a passive-aggressive manner, or mix it up to give yourself some variety. And never follow up with the person who offered it to begin with.

Keep pining for that wonderful church with perfect people, a full range of effective and well-organized programs, a bountiful salary and benefits package, and that fits your theology and ecclesiology exactly. Convince yourself that you'll find it if you just keep looking.

Search for a new pastorate at the first sign of resistance, boredom, frustration, or unmet expectations.

Assume that you're immune from everything on this list.

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