Friday, August 9, 2013

Conflict Management

Son of a bitch!

I got played the other day. The guy’s been laying for me since I moved in. I’ve kept him at arm’s distance, but when he asked me to visit his sick father, I thought it would be an opportunity to improve relations. Turns out he put me in the middle of a family feud.

Son of a bitch!

When I first moved here, he fawned over me, telling me how great I was. I never trust the ones who “love” me when I move to a new church. I predicted he would bide his time, and catch me when I was not at my best, which happened to be late in the evening after a very long day.  

So it’s my fault for getting fooled. I should have remembered he was a lying, simpering, pissant.

I raged about it through the next day.  I told two people about it. One of them is my sweet online friend who has always reached out to me with her tender support:  

“Want me to come down there with my baseball bat and take out his kneecaps?” she offered.  

I love this woman.  She’s articulate, too, offering her own colorful adjectives to describe my nemesis, which by association had become hers.

I have another friend, who holds a leadership position in my church and is a major reason for my success here.  She has the dubious honor of calming down her temperamental minister.  

I texted her and calmly explained the situation:

“The guy is a sneaky, sniveling pussy!”  

She didn’t argue. Facts are facts.  I think she was thinking of my blood pressure when she said, “Take care of yourself.”  

“I’m going to haul him by the lapels through the window of his car and express my feelings.”   

“That’s just what he wants.” she texted back.

“Really? The man wants his gray haired pastor to whup his ass?”  

“He wants you to try, so he can have a reason to get rid of you.”  

“I aim to get rid of HIM.”  

But she was right. Besides,I haven’t engaged anyone in fisticuffs since I was a kid.

Sorry,” I texted. “I’m very angry.”   

“I can tell,” she said. She’s perceptive that way. She also knew if I was talking to her, I wasn’t confronting the pissant.  

She’s no sissy, but I was afraid my raging had been had gotten a little wearisome.  Not to worry. She saw me the next day and said, “You are so funny when you get angry.  Even through texting, I could see your face getting red and smoke coming from your ears.”

“I’m happy to be entertaining,” I said. And then we spoke more reasonably about how his days on any leadership committee are numbered. It’ll just take a little finesse, a little patience.  

And if that doesn’t work, I know someone who can kneecap him.  

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Doing the Clergy Guy Shuffle

“Momma, why does the preacher always wear a dress?

That sweet little miscreant was not REALLY commenting on my gender orientation   She was merely referring to my clergy robe. That garment of priestly splendor that signifies my holy authority.  

But it really does sort of look like a dress.  

On the one hand, I like it because it covers a lot of errors, such as my not checking my fly before I go on.  But it’s a pain. If I have to reach for a comb, my keys, or my ringing cell phone, I have to hike it up to get to my pocket, and there’s no way to make that look dignified.  

What is the deal about clothes anyway? Why did Adam and Eve have to screw that up at the very beginning? And what were they thinking with the fig leaves?  If they’d just played it cool, I’d never have to worry about splitting the center seam of my pants again.  

By the way, I loathe tight clothes any day of the year but especially during the summer. It’s so fricken HOT. And then people want me to wear a robe over my clothes? A coat and tie is bad enough when the temp makes a good illustration of where we don’t want to spend eternity. BTW, In heaven there’s central air and NO TIES.  

Why don’t we all agree that jeans and t shirts are respectable AND comfortable, and be done with the whole debate  

But these days, what has my knickers in a twist is that now my clothes aren’t tight enough. I had to bore a new hole in my belt and cinch my pants up tight so they don’t fall off.  Now that would create a picture.  There I am delivering my best soul saving, fire and brimstone, take no prisoners sermon, and suddenly my pants fall down to my ankles just below the hem of my dress--uh, robe.  

In my nightmares I hope nobody notices. Instead of reaching down to pull them up, I do a quick shuffle off the stage, as I curse Adam and his damn fig leaves, as well as the kid who thinks I'm wearing a dress.

Friday, August 2, 2013

Vacation Blues

I’m feeling screwed and not in a good way, and besides I did it to myself.  

I took a week of vacation. We’d finished some big summer projects at church, and it was supposed to be quiet, and I could spend some peaceful time at home.  But did things slow down?


First, there were the medical emergencies--three different people in three different directions. No problem. Just make a few phone calls and I’d be done.

Well, one of them is a beloved 97 year old and she rated more than a phone call, so I went out to see her. And when they moved her to the bigger hospital out of town, I drove out to see her again. But that was okay because I like her. Everyone does.

And then there was the death. Every minister knows if they go on vacation, somebody dies. Pretty lethal when you look at it a certain way.  And the woman that died had no family, only her little community of loyal friends, most of whom came to my church. Since I was in town anyway, I’d just take care of that service, too.

And we ordered new video equipment that needed to be installed that particular week and I needed to be around to help. That was fine. It was different from working in the office. No problem.  It would still feel like a vacation, even while I reassured the naysayers: the ones who thought we spent several thousand dollars on something that wouldn’t work, the ones who thought it would make our sanctuary look ugly, and the ones who were afraid we were going to turn into one of those churches that went over the deep end with drums, guitars, snakes, and tongue speaking.  

And then there was the youth trip, where the van broke down several hours away. They tried to handle it themselves and not tell me, but they weren’t getting anywhere so finally they called me. It’s good to be connected--I was able to phone a couple of buddies and get them transportation back home.  But to switch vehicles--no one was available, so I drove that vehicle back to my buddy’s town--did I mention it was several hours away?  But I had the time because I was on vacation.  

And the week was over. I joked that it was good to come back to work so I could get some rest.  

But the truth is that I was so tired, all I could do was hang on until my next day off got here, which is today. I was so tired that everything made me furious or despairing. I had a major blow up not just with my wife, but my two teenage boys--I am so popular at my house.

One minister told that my mistake was that I really have to get out of town, far enough away that I can’t get back for anything and someone else would have to take care of things--600 miles usually did the trick.  Another friend said I shouldn’t call that vacation and I should reschedule another week. Which I would do but I’m looking at the calendar and it’s going to be a while.

So like I said, I’m feeling screwed and not in a good way.