This Journey

Thoughts, rants, prayers, sermons I'll never give and other stuff gathered as I make my way through this life.

Is there a 12-step program for this?

“Hi. I’m NFH and I over-function. Probably so that people will like me and I gain their approval.”

The other standard result is that the organization under-functions and I am put in awkward positions and made to be the bad-guy. 

Here we are again at another example of me stepping forward in trust, moving forward on a handshake and the organization not following up with the formal agreement.

I have incredible flaming wreck stories of any number of times I’ve done this in my life (you can read about one here.)¬†The entirety of 2012 is another, although I kept that pretty low-key around here. And now, so early in 2013, we have another opportunity for me to change my behavior.

Here’s the background.

Our music director requested a personal leave of absence beginning immediately after Christmas (three weeks ago.) Both she and the Senior Pastor (executive in charge) asked if I would be willing to serve as interim. I agreed. I met with her and got the information about what had been planned (nothing) and what was coming up (several festival services, some outside concert hosting and a number of other things… not the least of which is Lent and Easter. For which nothing had been planned. Not even sketched.)

I’ve now been ¬†working hard for ten days to play catch up and fill in for the music director and there is still no sign of a contract. Is there something they feel can be left undone for this leave time? Don’t know. What are they willing/able to pay me? Don’t know. I told both the pastor and the council president that I assumed I would be paid the same as the music director (as I had been in 2006-2007 when I served here as interim music director for an entire year.) The president came back and said they “needed to calculate my pay based on synod guidelines.”

Great by me. Since I’m ten years older than the music director, I have about ten more years experience. I’m sure that took them ¬†a bit by surprise because my Spidey-sense is that the treasurer said that in order to pay me¬†less not because he didn’t want to short change me out of ten years of experience on the salary chart.

Because the pastor has worked with me before, he trusts and knows that I”ll get things done. And I have. Because the music director is my friend, she trusts and knows that I will care for the congregation and the volunteer worship leaders in planning worship. And I have.

But rehearsal starts back up tonight and the choir not only sings here on Sunday but we’re supposed to go on a “field trip” to lead worship at a nursing home on Sunday. And I still don’t have a contract. And it’s starting to bug me.

It woke me up last night.

How many pastors would serve an interim call – or even pulpit supply a single Sunday? – without a more detailed agreement? Not one, probably. How many corporate consultants or temps would be allowed into the building (much less on the computer systems) without a contract in place? ZERO.

My high level of competence and over-functioning has gotten me ten-days ahead of their process. Their needs are getting met. They have worship bulletins and their program is going ahead. There is no urgency for them to get this decided. The only person out on a limb is me.

If I had not stepped in and been competent and conscientious, they would have been stuck. They would have had an “urgent” situation that they would have had to deal with. They would have had to have a bunch of extra meetings over the holidays and probably scheduled a special council meeting. As it is, they feel like they can just wait until….whenever.

My only move is to raise this point with the pastor when he shows up today. But where is the line? Do I say “I’m not comfortable running the rehearsal and taking care of the choir leadership on Sunday without a contract. I realize you’re not prepared with one now, so you’ll have to contact the choir and cancel rehearsal and contact the nursing home and cancel that as well”? Or do I just continue on filling in; not making a fuss or a ruckus? Or is there somewhere in between those two options?

And the ONLY reason I’m in this pickle is because I want to do this work. I want to do this job. And I want to take care of people. I want to take care of my friend who is requesting the leave. I want to take care of my friend the pastor. I want to take care of my friends in the choir and the congregation.¬†And I want them to like me, I suppose.

Realizing it ten days in is better than realizing it six months in (like last year). Can I manage to really repent (turn away, change course, stop) this action? Can I manage my anxiety about people getting mad at me enough to do the hard thing here? Is it the right thing? According to which standard?


Author: Not Fainthearted

A paradox wrapped in an enigma playing the accordion. I'm a sinner-saint, child of God working at the cross-roads of church and world. A Deaconess called to connect people living near the center with people on the edge and to help your life sing (literally and figuratively) while doing it. People don't always get the deaconess part. Could be the swearing, the corporate job, or the wine.


  1. I am catching up on my blog reading, so I’m late to this story. I hope by now you have it worked out. If not, speak up! Don’t be faint hearted (LOL). You deserve to be on firm ground here, to know where you stand. It is so easy to let ourselves think that ignoring the problem will solve it. That is almost never the case. So speak up! :)

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