Well, I was wrong about Tom. I thought that it was going to be a bad experience to have him come to my office and talk to me. I was wrong.
It was generally shitty (pardon my language).
I thought that he wanted to come and talk about speech and voice projection and what I was doing wrong in that aspect of my job.
Basically, what he wanted to do is talk to me about all the things I was doing wrong in every aspect of my job.
He came with a full page of notes about what he wanted to talk about, divided into three major sections: leadership, worship, and theology. He critiqued everything I do even down to what hand I choose to hold things in. Seems I'm not allowed to hold things in my right hand. A good leader doesn't do that. A good leader holds things in their left hand so that they can salute with their right hand. Well, nowadays it's so they can shake hands. Obviously it's not an option to carry something in your right hand and then switch hands when necesarry to shake hands. That doesn't behoove an effective leader, I guess.
But yeah, seems I don't stand the way a leader should stand, I don't do announcements before a service the way a leader should do announcements, I don't emphasize words the way a leader should emphasize words. And my sermons don't condemn people to Hell. That's another bad thing. (But really, I suppose I would need to be sure that Hell exists before I start condemning people there... and I'm not sure that I believe that an actual location called Hell exists... so it's tough to tell people that they're going there, if there is no there to go to...)
And it's interesting. To sit there, as someone goes through a list of all the things that they're not happy with about YOU, and to think that the only thing you're required to do in this instance is love that person. Despite the things they say, despite however harsh and mean and hurtful their words are, you are to love that person. However impossible it may seem. However much you may want to take something large and heavy and blunt and strike his head several times, you are called to love him. To look for the best in him.
I'm not saying I'm there yet. Because it's pretty darn hard to get there. It's easier to be angry and spiteful and hold a grudge. But I know that's not good. The mean feelings and angry thoughts I keep inside don't do either of us any good, and in the end I'm the only one that ends up really being affected by that.
So I'm working on it. I'm trying to interpret his actions in the best possible light. I tell myself that, however misguided and inappropriate, he was trying to share what he's learned about leadership with me. That he's an aging man, who was once a pillar of the church and able to contribute in numerous ways, and now he finds himself being slowly edged out by younger and more capable people. So now he's trying to find ways to still contribute, to be relevant to the ministry that goes on at church. And perhaps he thought that a way he could contribute is by trying to help me be a better leader. I'm not saying he went about it in an effective or constructive or healthy way. And I'm not saying it didn't make me angry, because it definitely did that. But at least if I put that spin on it, it makes it a little easier to take, and it really minimizes the urge to grab that large, blunt object.