A Matter Of Time
A young friend (against my advice) took a leadership position in a ministry with a history of detached major donors infighting among the staff weak executive leadership a dated mission that is out of touch with the changing demographics of their market a retired founder who still has influence on Board decisions and a business model that depends almost 90% on a few supporters. Given that this is an organization that charges tuition and fees that is not a good sign. Come to think of it are there any good signs at all in this scenario? With just that knowledge ” would you take the job?
It depends on where you are in life” I suppose. When I was in my 30's I took a leadership position in just such an organization. They had run off 13 headmasters in 30 years and no one had left without scars on their back. I sometimes imagined them as the author of Hebrews describes the heroes of the faith as "sawn in two…going about in sheepskins and goatskins destitute persecuted and mistreated." One of the board members told me early on "We were here when you got here and we'll be here when you leave." That was at our first dinner together. He was right of course. I lasted five years and it was doubtless the most difficult five years of our lives. The stress was inhuman. The conflict was unrelenting. The finances were abysmal and the expectations of the parents could be summed up by ” "We don't care if they can read. Can they play football in eighth grade?" A perfect fit!
Now” I look back and realize I learned more about relationships leadership politics power ” and the human condition in those five years than I did in the rest of my career as a teacher/administrator. If suffering for Christ purifies us (and it does) then hardship when we are relatively young prepares us for the balance of our lives like nothing else. I was not persecuted for Christ. It was more like I grew up from the person I was when I arrived – and I am grateful for it.
Over the years since then I have spoken at weddings and funerals for these same people and families who came” in time to be closer to us than we could have imagined. Yes ” some of them were there when we got there and still there when we left but we have taken many of them with us in our hearts.
I probably gave my young friend bad advice when I suggested he avoid the mess. He is doing the right thing and I hope he hangs in there long enough to find the same surprising grace.