"You have to work hard to offend Christians. By nature, Christians are the most forgiving, understanding, and thoughtful group of people I've ever dealt with. They never assume the worst. They appreciate the importance of having different perspectives. They're slow to anger, quick to forgive, and almost never make rash judgments or act in anything less than a spirit of total love . . . No, wait--I'm thinking of Labrador retrievers!" David Learn, 1998

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Grace Grieving 8: An apology to Lou

     I owe Pastor Lou Huesmann an apology. 
     Lou, I really thought you were responsible for all the grief the leadership has given so many of us. I thought you made the decisions and had the ultimate say about what happens in this church. 
     But I have just read a document written and adopted by the Executive Board of Elders (EBOE) that opened my eyes. It says the Chairman of the EBOE is a "specially empowered member of the Board" while the Senior Pastor is only a member of the Board at all "at the pleasure of the Board." 
     The Chairman leads the Board in their decision-making. He monitors and evaluates your performance. He conducts the Board's "systematic and rigorous monitoring of Senior Pastor job performance" based on their "Board-stated ends" and contingent on your staying within their "boundaries" and accomplishing their "ends." They can assess your "compliance with the appropriate policy criteria" by "direct Board inspection" of "any policy at any time by any method," reserving the right to be the "final arbiter" of your performance. That's a lot of hoops to jump through if you want a boss to "view (you) as successful."
     In your attempts to accomplish their ends, the Board "will [not may] develop policies to limit the latitude (you) may exercise in choosing organizational means." They will limit your choices if they are unacceptable to them "even if they are effective." 
     They reserve the right to change the rules of this curious but sinister game: "The Board may change its Ends and Executive Limitations Policies, thereby shifting the boundary between Board and Senior Pastor domains. By doing so, the Board changes the latitude of choice given to the Senior Pastor. But as long as any particular boundary is in place, the Board will respect and support the Senior Pastor's choices."
     Sounds to me like a potential bait and switch. They set the boundaries, give you choices, change the boundaries, limit your choices--pulling your chain at will.    
     The chairman even has in place, in this document, a provision to "protect the Board from sudden loss of Senior Pastor services." Almost as if he anticipates that circumstances will require him to put them into effect. 
     Why would such provisions be necessary in a document regulating the running of a church? Doesn't something about this seem fishy to you, Lou? Sounds like you work for them, not for us. We'd be a lot more lenient on you than they are. Feed His sheep, tend His lambs. That would do for us, Lou.
      The Board did grant you the $25,000 you asked them for, as a kind of petty cash fund--so you wouldn't have to keep nickel-and-diming them for small purchases. They granted you $25,000 of our money (annually, we've been told) for whatever these petty items are--but they put in writing that you are not to have a penny more! 
     They really keep you on a tight leash.
     Of course in return you get to manage the staff. If you're happy with that and if you trust the Chairman of the EBOE to have your best interest at heart, then I guess you don't mind being his lackey.
     Anyway, my point is not to say you seem to be a pawn just like we are but to say I apologize for having thought you run the whole show.   
     For anyone reading this who is unfamiliar with that particular document--it's called "the Manual."

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