Friday, September 3, 2010

Tales of a Country Parson, Vol II

Today was my first real day in my office at the main church.  I actually think it's somewhat of a group office - although no one has technically confirmed that for me.  So I hope they don't mind that I rearranged the furniture...

Anyhow, the few hours I was there, plus my other experiences as a part of getting ready for and getting settled into my internship, have reminded me how important organization is to me.  I've felt sort of disorganized, and like I'm not entirely certain what I'm supposed to be doing and who is in charge of what. 

This isn't necessarily helped by the fact that my supervisor, who is already 90 miles away, happens to be on vacation at the moment.  Granted, he has been available by email and phone, and told me I can call him 24/7, which is good, but still...

I think part of my related to the fact that I still don't really conceive of myself as a "pastor," per se.  My name is on the sign outside the church, and I've been referred to as "the pastor" numerous times already, but I still feel sort of out of my element.  I'm not certain whether this is a permanent vocational issue or just something I need to grow into, but regardless, the idea that (priesthood of all believers and lay leadership not withstanding) I am in charge here, is mind-boggling to me.

Then, there's the idea of unwritten expectations - I know some of them - be everywhere and participate in everything and accept every invitation all the time.  I'm going to have to figure out how to do this, and at the same time not go crazy from having to be around people all the time.  Aside from that, though, there's not a whole lot of communication about what expectations are - in worship, in committee meetings, in community life, etc...I feel like if I had a supervisor locally, he or she would communicate some of that stuff to me, and also protect me a little bit - remind the congregation that I'm just an intern, etc...

Maybe I'm putting too much pressure on myself, and assuming that the congregation isn't going to give me the grace to learn, and to be an intern, not a graduated, ready-to-go pastor.  All the same, I'm big on human interaction, and can't wait to sit down with my supervisor live and in-person and just figure out what's really going on.  I keep hearing "So-and-So is going to call you to talk about filling out W-4 forms/worship planning/nursing home coverage/the situation in _______,"  and in fact, no one is calling me to talk about that stuff.  Which is sort of frustrating, because even though I'm "in charge," these churches are pretty self-sufficient, and so I want to let them continue to take the lead in places where they can and - again, expectations - not look like I'm taking over or stepping on toes. 

Finally, there's the issue that the (very little) information that was given to me beforehand, or was left for me in the church, hasn't been all that helpful.  The "note I left you with some information" was "this was a really great year for me and you're going to love it, call me if you have any questions, and oh by the way, here's a list of songs that the organist knows how to play."  In the file folder of "stuff for the new intern" was a list of expectations for the kids in confirmation, multiple copies of info on the mission the church supports in Africa, and the document on how to organize weddings at the church.  No overarching List of Ten Things You Need to Be Successful Here or anything else like that.  No Schedule of a Typical Week.  No Top Ten People You Need to Know. 

So, for now anyway, I feel like I'm flying by the seat of my pants.  This is something I can do when I have to - in the midst of an emergency or crisis, although I don't like it.  I'm a planner.  Even when things are crazy and I'm flying by the seat of my pants in an emergency, I'm trying to plan for the next five minutes or hour or whatever.  And in a situation where I feel like I shouldn't have to be flying by the seat of my pants, where I wish that things were a little more organized and I had better information, it's frustrating and scary. 

I'm sure that things will get better, and that in a few weeks when everything is unpacked and I know more people and have settled into a little bit of a routine, things will be ok.  All the same, if you're so inclined, please pray for me, that everything will continue to develop smoothly.

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