With new resolve and a growing hope as to what the future might look like for me I turned my effort and my attention toward my academic journey. However, not far into that process I was thrown off by the news of the sudden departure of our pastor. Given that I was the Chairman of the Board I called together a special meeting right away to discuss this turn of events. By this time I had informed the church already of my upcoming departure and was wondering how they might navigate through this next chapter for them.
Shortly into the meeting the elders suddenly asked me to leave the meeting as they needed to talk about something and it was important that I wasn’t there. I was shocked by this but agreed and stepped outside, enjoying the coolness of the evening air. I ended up being outside for the better part of thirty minutes before I was summoned and brought back inside. They explained to me that they were aware of my departure in May and would like to propose a mutually beneficial arrangement whereas I would step into the role of Church Administrator for the next nine months. They were offering me more than I was making at the hotel and what they wanted in return was for me to work full-time on the process of finding both a senior pastor and a youth and family pastor. A tall order and something that a church hadn’t done before so it was uncharted territory.
I enthusiastically accepted.
I left my employment at the hotel, relieved to be finished with that place, although the owners held a soft spot in my heart so during the next year and a bit, while I was still in this valley city and even after I had moved away and would come back for a visit – I made a point of checking in with them from time to time, offering them help with their IT issues and other problems that would spring up.
I set up my new office in what is normally the senior pastor’s office and set to work immediately on finding two qualified candidates that I could present to the church. This was an unusually enjoyable process for me as I had a chance to put into action all of my administrative and human resource skills in a very specific way – with the thinking that if I do my job right I could end up blessing the church with two great candidates when I leave.
I felt very privileged to be there, sitting in that corner office, windows on all the walls, two of those walls looking outside at a large city park adjacent to the church. People would stop by from time to time and have conversations with me as if I were some distinguished person holding a distinguished title. The business of the church was my business and it felt great getting my hands involved in all of it. The rhythm of it all was intoxicating, and although I had grown to already become quite a critic of such structure and such people who populate such places of power and authority, I was quickly drawn into the privilege and power of it all for myself.
The amount of influence unduly granted to me by my mere position was amazing and I often reflect back to this time and wonder what would have become of me if I was to remain in such a position. I suspect that I would have succumbed to the allure of positional power, becoming corrupted by it – no different then anyone else. It would take me a couple of years of being away and disconnected from the church before that feeling of authority and power would fully drain out of me. I know this to be true because during those first couple of years of being away from the church, whenever I would return for a visit I found myself getting quite heavily involved in the leadership of the church and the various conflicts that had arisen – speaking quite authoritatively to each of them, like I carried any weight to really make a difference.
This job experience was a really good platform for me to reflect on the use of power and authority and the various elements that emerge from one’s position – especially when such a position has been granted by a body of people and not ‘earned’ in a sense by natural progression within a typical company structure. Yes, indeed, this experience was a great informer of some key elements that would shape my main thesis of research work during the course of my Master’s degree.
But, for now, in the moment, I was lavishing in the moment and playing a key role in the future of the church by finding its next pastoral team. Getting drunk with power would have to wait for another time perhaps.