Being Hung Out To Dry

I have often heard that sometimes we are all wet and that sometimes we are hung out to dry. You know, I can say: “Been there, Done that!”

“All Wet” can men completely wrong about something or you don’t have enough information to come in out of the rain. It also refers to being stupid, to be ineffective, non-athletic, socially inadequate, etc, etc. So, it is someone who cannot get the job done… whatever that job may be… they do not have the “right stuff” to complete their mission.

I remember this “hung out to dry” feeling from my college days. I was serving a student appointment (that means I was a college student while serving a church). It was a church that I was sent to in order to help them build a parsonage because I had help rebuilt one church from the ground up and renovated another not long before this. Well, the building process (committee and commitments) was moving rather slowly. On Saturday, I received a phone call from my District Superintendent (this is an Elder in the church appointed by the Bishop to supervise a group of ministers in a certain area known as a district). He said: “Steve, I want you to tell that building committee at the church that if they don’t get this parsonage underway quickly, I will not send them a pastor next conference year.” I replied: Ok, I’ll do what you ask.” Sunday morning, I relay his statement to the building committee and the chairperson asks me to call this DS and set up and appointment for him. I called the DS to inform him of the request and his reply was: “I didn’t say that. If you say I did, I will have you in the Bishop’s office by noon tomorrow and have your job.” Hung out to dry would have been an understatement of how I felt.

This setup and threatening style of leadership almost caused me to leave the ministry and the church. I never told this DS how demoralizing his behavior was, how deeply he hurt me, or how un-Christian his actions were. I never trusted that man ever again.

In his little political one-up-man-ship manner of doing things to those under his charge, I felt “All Wet.” No, I did not know what game he was playing, how to play it, or why to play it. I was stupid, inadequate, not up to the political task before me. Why can’t we just tell the truth? Why can we just be honest with one another? What I needed was not a lousy intimidating General… I needed a pastor, a mentor, who would seek to help me become a pastor – not another politician.

I believe the church fails badly at mentoring new, young pastors in training. We have inserted the term “mentor” in the process of becoming ordained, but I don’t believe we really have mentors (real mentors) who are trained, compassionate mentors who care to make sure pastors are built from the inside out. What we have, most of the time, are mentors who are politically in line for some kind of recognition – and this gets them recognized by the Conference Board of Ministry – which most clergy want to be appointed to, because it says I am on the right track to be one of the fair haired boys/girls (the ones chosen to be put on the fast track).

We are called to be servant leaders not CEO’s of the Church. Our present-day paradigm for leadership is the corporate one and not the servant one. I am sure I would have been a better pastor had I had a real mentor/pastor rather than a CEO/General.

My word for all the young pastors is don’t let the CEO leadership style drive you from the ministry or the church. Ask for… seek out a mentor you know who has a shepherd’s heart and a mindset to lift you up and help fit you for service in the kingdom.

Grace and Peace

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