I entered seminary with no interest in going into parish ministry. I thought I would become a professor of theology...or bible...or another related field. As I continued my studies, I found many of my fellow students had a faith that I envied. I had become jaded as a result of my upbringing in a pastor's family. The seminary community salved my broken soul, and for the first time since my childhood, I felt like I had a faith of my own...one I could share with the world.
I received my call to the ministry my second year of seminary. The bishop gave me a part-time, student appointment in the hills of Pennsylvania. Most of the people in that congregation were honest, God fearing people. After they got to know me, they took to me just fine.
Wayne was different. He had an ego. He led a bible study that met every Wednesday night. I attended a few of them, they were awful. He didn't let people speak. He asked leading questions that only he knew the answer to. When I first walked through the door to that church, I thought Wayne would be my biggest supporter. By all outward appearances he was a devout Christian.
That year I planned a Christmas Eve service. I went all out; had great music, a contemplative, interactive advent wreath, a thoughtful message that I spent many hours on. The congregation loved it, and they praised my efforts. About a month later, when the Pastor parish committee was charged with my yearly performance review, they scheduled the meeting during a time when I had to be in class. I could only attend the first half an hour. Later I discovered that Wayne had drafted the review, that would be sent to conference. In it, he based the Christmas eve service, saying that it was inappropriate, unchristian. He slandered my character, and said that I was unfriendly. The next day I received a phone call from the DS, and had some explaining to do!
It's been a year since that situation, and I have moved on. I'm at my new full time appointment, two churches in southern Pennsylvania. They are friendly enough, they treated the last pastor well, and were upset at his leaving, so I assumed it would be the same for me.
It has turned out not to be the case. I find myself constantly being compared with the old pastor. Three families have left the church because of it. I have reached out to them, only to come to learn that they have been slandering my name all over town.
I don't know if I'm burned out, but I'm definitely jaded... Why would self professing Christians behave in such an unchristian way? I really feel like I've done everything in my power to be friendly to them, to be the pastor they need.
I've decided lately that since it's not my fault, I'm going to try not to worry about it. Stupid jerk pew warmers are of no use to God anyway...and good riddance!
Don't even get me started on the whole "we pay you too much" "you only work one day a week" and my favorite of all "why are you asking me to (help out at the church)...that's your job!"