Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Differences about drama



I have now been a senior/solo pastor for nearly five years. I was a youth/associate pastor for 12 years. People make all sorts of assumptions about what the differences may or may not be in regard to the associate and senior pastor role. Some of those assumptions are true, but not universally true. Other assumptions are quite simply false. And there are some differences that most people just do not think about. 

One of the differences that I have noticed as a pastor is that there is a huge difference between how a youth pastor (or any associate in program ministries) approaches drama, and how the presence of "drama" shapes one's ministry.

As a youth pastor, I did not seek drama, but drama is part of the job. As a matter of fact, the immediacy and the passion that is required of effective ministry in program ministry often a sign of health and energy in the program. A young adult ministry with no drama is most likely a ministry without young adults present.

Many teens and young adults are facing situations for the first time. The freshness of their experience to them, and the propensity for each experience to be personally and spiritually forming heightens the sense of drama in working with that person. Young people are wired for passion, and that passion pours out in what they do. Parents are anxious about their children and young adult children as well, and this anxiety also creates drama and intensity in program ministries with children, youth and young adult. There is often a sense in which people believe that young people are experiencing teachable moments in their lives that must be seized or forgotten forever. 

This week I am a senior pastor doing evaluations. I find that one of the unspoken questions that internally informs my evaluative process is this: How much drama does this person bring me? If I hear about relatively few problems and deal with relatively little drama with this person, they are almost guaranteed a strong performance review. If there is a sense of drama that surrounds this person, there is a little more nuance required when doing their performance review. It is unfair, but it is often the way things function for a senior pastor. We know troubleshooting is part of the job, but we tire of dealing with petty issues that take us away from the work we really want to be doing. 

The problem with this is, of course, that some positions by the nature of their ministry, or the volume of their interactions with people, and high drama people, necessarily have more drama built-in as a part of the job. If one does not understand this, that one can interpret all the drama as negative, when it really may be a sign that something is happening in the context of that staff person's ministry, and that "something" could be negative, but it could also be very positive or at least proactive. 

Thus, even though senior pastors tend to lean toward seeking "no drama', sometimes drama is a consequence of the Spirit being at work in that person. Again, something else I am considering and thinking about.

What do you think?

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