Well, it is Conference Sunday and all United Methodists in the Western NC Conference knows what that means… heading home from Junaluska… it is traffic… it is eating somewhere around Hickory… and it is getting back home.
This week at Junaluska was about getting out among the people. Boy are we ever doing that now. The traffic today reminds me of the traffic in the early 70’s (when they were working on the road between Asheville and Junaluska) when it was bumper to bumper and as slow as it could be, especially on Conference Sunday afternoon… better bring snacks.
I’m not sure why it was so congested and slow today, but when we came to Hwy 26 to Hendersonville the entrance ramp was backed up for a mile or more. Go figure? Things seem to thin out for a little while and then came this warning sign “LEFT LANE CLOSED AHEAD.” What most of us did was to start preparing to get in the proper lane. But for others those words “LEFT LANE CLOSED AHEAD” drove them crazy. As we were slowing down to get in the right lane these people raced down the other lane to get in front of everyone else. After a while it was so annoying to the 1st Air Cav truck and trailer behind us that he pulled out and straddled the white line in the middle of the road… blocking traffic from racing by. I guess he got tire of people passing him… not following the rules?
I started thinking what is it about those people who do not follow the rules of common courtesy, the ones who think that it is more important for them to get to their destination quicker than any of the rest of the people, the ones who make us mad as fire? What is it about them? Or is it about us?
I do believe there is in the American Psyche some sort of drive to get ahead of the pack even if it means going against the common convention of being courteous, respectable, follow the rules of making it to the top, or just being nice. And I further believe that we feel that every time someone breaks the rules and rushes ahead it pushes us back in our turn of making it. We see it in the work place, in the church, in the pastorate and how some people are appointed with a $30,000 increase while we are told $2,000 is the most the conference offers (turnip truck – yesterday). If we let it, it will demoralize us to the point where we either start playing some political game to get ahead or stop believing the Conference really cares about you. Both get in the way of real ministry.
I remember many years ago when I became aware of this equity. A pastor of a failing 138 member church was appointed as the senior pastor of a 1,200 member church… with a tremendous jump in salary. I mentioned to my District Superintendent how demoralizing that was to all the rest of the hard-working, life affirming clergy in the conference who will never even be noticed by the conference. I was told the Bishop makes the appointments.
Shirley and I decided instead of worrying about that other lane, we were just going to enjoy the view and the privilege of the moment we found in the lane that believed common courtesy to all people was important, and integrity was required to be the person we were called to be. We got home a little later than some of those in the fast track… but we got home. And what’s more important, we enjoyed the drive and kept our integrity in tack.
Grace and Peace