...until the excrement hits the fan, and then I will abandon you just as fast as I can. Please excuse the following rant - I need to get it off my chest before I implode with frustration:
Had a meeting with 2 parents and the senior pastor Sunday afternoon. The parents had some complaints and concerns they wanted to air, and even though the mother had already talked to me, they thought it needed to be discussed with the SP. The initial impetus for this was that their son got his feelings hurt while we (me and a few students) were joking around. It was something I said that bothered him, so I took him out for a coke and apologized. I certainly didn't mean it to be hurtful and it was offered as an innocent joke, but was obviously not taken that way. This is not the first time I've had to apologize to the kid and will likely not be the last. So things are fine between me and the kid, but they still want the joint meeting.
The first hour or so was nothing but them offering up complaint after complaint. A couple were valid, but by far, the rest were the result of my style not fitting with their idea of how things should be run. For instance, a couple of kids have said that I don't care if they swear. In context, this is true. If I'm talking to a kid one-on-one about not sleeping with his girlfriend or helping them get through a tough time with school/family/sports/whatever, I really don't care if they drop a swear word every now and then. I'm focused on the bigger issue at hand. If, however, a kid swears in the youth meeting, I do care and I have corrected kids who have done so. The rest were similar things taken out of context and misrepresented as if they were constant issues. They even went so far as to suggest I should not have youth activities in my home because "an old pastor friend of ours said there needs to be a boundary there."
Being ripped on for over an hour is bad enough in itself, but what really made the meeting special was the fact that my SP did not say a single word on my behalf. He offered no defense, no statement that maybe these stylistic differences aren't substantive or that he thought I was actually doing a good job even though there might be some things I need to work on. Heck, I know there are things I need to work on - this is my first full-time ministry position; mistakes are inevitable. No, instead he said to me in front of these parents "I thought everything was fine in our evaluations [done at the end of the year], but I guess I've been too loose with you and will have to call other parents." Not only am I not defended, I'm undermined. Their differences in style & preference have just trumped mine no matter what reason I have for doing things the way I do. I mean, in all honesty, there isn't a whole lot I don't do with a specific reason in mind. The format, the scheduling, my style - all are meant to address particular areas of concern or respond to problems, but this doesn't matter.
Of course, it doesn't end there. In the midst of all of this, the SP actually distances himself from me and the alleged problems in the youth ministry by saying "I'm not involved in the youth program. We pay someone to do that." I am the hired gun for youth and if I've gone off the reservation that is in no way a reflection on his leadership. This in spite of the fact he knew I had no professional youth ministry experience when he hired, that the program was in bad disarray when I came on and that he has done absolutely nothing to mentor me in any way. In the 10 months I've been here, he has taken me out to lunch once to see how things were going. Other than that, nada. He hasn't attended a single activity, sat in on a single session, reviewed any of my lessons or talked about scheduling with me. The only time any of this came up was in the annual review, and he openly admitted he had a very limited basis for evaluating my performance this last year.
So I'm ripped on, undermined and denied. Undoubtedly there will be a follow-up meeting with the SP to talk about this stuff. I am just struck by the irony: this guy spends more time talking about leadership than anyone I've ever met - its almost fetishistic - and yet when it comes down to it, displays possibly the worst leadership I have ever seen.