this is no longer my blog

Thursday, April 28, 2005


war wounds

So today, in my weekly supervisory meeting with Supervising, I somehow managed to get onto the topic of my old job as youth director. I got there in a completely roundabout way. We started talking about how the local high school has planned a band concert the day after prom. I mentioned that I thought that was kind of stupid. Supervising agreed. Then, I began to talk about how some of the church youth really wanted me to go, and since I missed their last musical (as I was in the midst of a 9 hour drive back from visiting The Awesomes), I felt like I should go. Although, it also happens to be the same day as graduation at The Mothership. And seeing as how that is the class I started with, I think that I would never hear the end of it from a number of them, if I was not present. Especially since it is just a hop, skip and jump away from me.
So I turned to Supervising and said, "I never told you why I'm on the five year plan, have I?" [editor's note: the normal program for a Master of Divinity is a four year program - three years in the classroom and a one year internship in a congregation] Supervising said, "Not really." To which I replied, "Well, it's kind of a long story, and has to do with me leaving my job as a youth director. I've never told you about that either, have I?" He said, "No." Well, then, since I'd brought it up, I decided I'd go ahead and tell him about it. I've been working with him about 9 months. I figured it would be okay to tell him.
At that point I launched into the whole epic saga. I don't know that I want to go into the whole thing again. I had thought that I had successfully moved on from that experience, but in the midst of conversation I realized that it was still a bit touchy, and perhaps lacking the kind of closure I would want. But I'll give you a brief overview:
Bright eyed college graduate, after having spent three summers as a church camp counselor and numerous evenings and weekends as a confirmation teacher and youth group sponsor, dives head first into a youth ministry position in a church. Quickly finds out that things are a lot different than what he had thought. Finds out about the large amount of paperwork and preparation that goes into planning well thought out and authentic opportunities for youth to gather together and grow in their faith and in relationships with each other. Doesn't exactly see eye to eye with husband and wife co-pastors with whom he works. Doesn't exactly feel as if he is considered a part of the team. Doesn't exactly feel as if he is given the sort of respect from the co-pastors that he deserves. Doesn't exactly feel that they even view him as much of an adult at all. Finally, hears something that one of the pastors has said about him (from the pastors' daughter, no less) and in conversation with someone who previously held his position discovers that these two might not be the healthiest duo with which to work. So this formerly bright eyed college graduate, after a year and two weeks, quickly resigns from the position without knowing where he would be headed next. Thankfully, the summer camp he formerly worked at offers to let him finish the summer out on staff.
I'd like to say that's the end of the story, but alas it's not. There was still some yuckiness that happened afterwards involving news getting to people in the congregation that reflected poorly on the co-pastors, and them assuming that it was me who was spreading it. It wasn't. But the co-pastors wanted me to apologize to a very long list of people for the damage that I supposedly caused "in an attempt to get even" with them.
So as I was discussing this with Supervising, I told him that I've come to realize that the co-pastors were not entirely to blame. I understand that many of the issues I had could have been solved if I had approached the pastors about them. I didn't handle the whole thing as well as I could have, and in my resignation letter I basically said that the pastors were to blame for the whole mess. I know that a working relationship is very similar to a friendship or a marriage, and that someone may have said something that was the breaking point for the relationship, but it was said in an unhealthy environment that was the creation of both parties. I know that now. I know that I am not completely blameless in the situation. But, as I told Supervising, I think that when I tell people the story I can easily put all of the blame onto them because at the time, they made me feel as if all of the blame was on me. I also told him that on a couple of occasions I had sat down and written an e-mail to the wife pastor (she was my direct supervisor). I felt that I needed some sort of closure. I never sent the letter, which Supervising says is probably for the best because I wouldn't get what I was hoping for. For all I know, she could get defensive again and it could rehash old anger. But all I really want is for her to say, "You know what, it wasn't all you. None of us handled ourselves the best in this situation."
So yeah... it wasn't a good time for me. Left me questioning myself and my call to ministry. Luckily, camp was there to catch me and my friends were there to help me muck my way back out. But now, a little ways on the other side of the whole ordeal, I can look back and see what I was able to learn and grow. I think I learned some valuable stuff in that year. It was a crappy way to learn, but it worked.

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