Thursday, October 25, 2007

A blessed curse...

I seem to have an aura about me, or perhaps it is a large sign that I can't see but everyone else can, that says "dump work on this person." And, in a day when some people are desperate for employment, I hope that this post doesn't make me sound quite spoiled and selfish.

I think I wrote awhile back about being hit up by my minister to do a part-time children's ministry coordinator role for our church in a time of need. While completely taken aback by the offer (I thought he was going to ask me to teach Sunday school) and flattered, I turned it down. I had recently started my editorship of the magazine and that's the dream job I have always wanted--albeit it is a few years too early since my daughter's not in elementary school yet. The job has since just about eaten me alive with the amount of work and long hours, of which I am not being paid for adequately.

Still, I love it and don't want to leave it.

Well, today, my minister called again telling me he had a short bit of news and a longer/more serious thing in which he wanted to talk with me. I knew I was in trouble when he asked me to sit down before he got to the longer bit of the conversation.

And, then he asked me to be the Director of Children's Ministries, a salaried position, for our church.

If you followed that link before, you know that I was not prepared for this offer, nor do I feel qualified. By the end of my phone call with our minister, he'd told me that sometimes "God's callings come in surprises" and that I should consider it. He'd suggested that if I quit my magazine job and other part time work, that my volunteer time would be worked in with my work schedule at the church, so I'd actually have MORE free time. And, he reminded me that my daughter could go free to the church's preschool/MDO program.

As my husband told me when hung up and was upset, "Some people would be so happy to get an offer like that." And, he's right. But, I am not.

In fact, I was angry. And, while that doesn't sound like the expected emotion, I'll try to explain it here.

I am starting to feel like I am a sucker. From the beginning, my work at the magazine has felt under appreciated and underpaid. I was sold on a job that, in reality, is about 5 times the work that I was told it would be.

My minister's continuance to approach me with these offers messes with my head, quite frankly. I am not interested in the job, nor do I feel qualified in the least. On the one hand, I feel honored he thinks this much of me, but on the other I feel quite annoyed and a bit manipulated and used by this. And, that's disturbing when you're talking about your church.

For weeks, my husband and I have chatted about our big concerns with this church. Good people we enjoy knowing are leaving at a rapid pace, and usually unhappy when they leave, though we have no idea why or what is going on. More than once, people have made comments to both of us separately that lead us to believe the church big whigs are ready for us to step up and be the next big generation of leaders in the congregation--a role that neither of us is entirely comfortable or ready to fill.

And, now this. As my husband recently said, it almost feels like we have to leave this church to get away from this pressure.

I like my church. I feel like I'm just starting to build friendships and getting to really know some people. I love participating and helping out when I can.

With that said, I'm no Children's Minister. I don't have it in me and that role is not something I have ever aspired to have. God's calling or not, I am turning it down. And, with that comes the extreme guilt because I have a hard time saying no to the church especially when the role helps out my children and their peers and is so desperately needed. But, sweet you-know-who, I can't even keep my HOUSE clean and organized, how can I be expected to run an entire church's slew of ministries for young kids?

So, I'm begging you the question--how do you remove that "give me work" aura? How can you be an honest and hard-working person, without others seeing that and then wanting you to do XYZ for them?

This is not the first time this has happened to me. I have a lifetime of these kind of offers. And, it is starting to feel like a curse that I do not know how to rid myself of. I'm starting to feel like I need to go into solitude, hiding in a hermit-like existence in my home and rarely venturing out at all. I'm getting quite bitter.

And, my friends, that's just not good at all...



Blogger Babs said...

wow, that would be so hard to have your MINISTER try to manipulate you that way. Sometimes the most convenient option (cheaper childcare, etc) isn't what feels right for you, you know? I say follow your gut. And nothing says you can't quit the magazine job for awhile... you've already racked up some great experience and can always come back to something like that in a few years. Not that I'm trying to tell you what to do either. ;)

1:52 PM, October 25, 2007  
Anonymous Lisa said...

I wear that sign, too! It has been readily visible to people ready to delegate since I was in junior high. My first bad experience was with my junior high choir director. When I tried to quit choir (I was the pianist), she convinced the guidance counselor, band director, and yearbook sponsor to work out a deal whereby I could juggle all those things PLUS being the choir accompanist during my free period. When she didn't need me, I could be the guidance counselor's aide. I was too dumb and young to say "NO, I STILL QUIT", so I agreed to accompany the choir. I spent the remainder of my high school career taking zero hour classes (at 7:00 a.m.) to make up for that one stupid decision. Here we are, 25 years later, and I have about 6 volunteer "jobs" at church. Hmmm... I guess I didn't really learn anything.

4:11 PM, October 25, 2007  
Blogger Dipu said...

Wait wait wait ... did he actually use God to try to guilt you into taking a position with the church?! That's not cool! No wonder people are leaving it.

Good for you to saying no. You always take on so much. If that's not the kind of thing you want to do, you shouldn't be forced/guilted into doing it...

11:33 PM, October 25, 2007  
Anonymous Angela said...

I mean, call me crazy, but if this were God's calling be felt by you and not the minister? I just hate it when people use God's name to try to guilt trip others. You need to do what YOU want to do, and if that means putting your foot down and just saying no, then I say go for it.

But please don't be bitter, just start saying no. In fact, you should feel honored--obviously you are just incredibly awesome and in very high demand!

12:46 PM, October 26, 2007  
Blogger Nicole said...

I agree with Angela. Be flattered that you are such a competent, together person that people trust you to take on so many jobs. But just say no and don't feel guilty about it! I just read a book about how women pretty much run the church these days with all their volunteering and so many end up suffering burn-out and bitterness. I also think it's wrong for him to keep asking you when you've already said no. And just so you know, being hermit-like can be a good thing ;-) You over achiever, you...

1:50 PM, October 26, 2007  
Blogger LadyBugCrossing said...

Just say No. Do not qualify the statement. Do not give any reasons. Just say "No."

This year I said yes and now I totally regret it. I have 2 more years on the church vestry and I HATE it. Alas... I will suck it up and deal. But, I will NOT like it.

Please - for your sanity and your family's sanity... say NO and then RUN AWAY!!

6:08 PM, October 26, 2007  
Blogger Alison said...

Well, they say if you want something done, to ask a busy person. They see you in that position, being capable and getting things done, so it's easy to imagine you doing things for them, too!

I was so happy with the philosophy of the church we went to when we were first married, which was that they'd never pressure anyone into service. They wanted people to serve, of course, and offered things like classes on how to identify your interests and talents, but they felt everyone would be better served if people were only doing things they actually wanted to do and felt called to do--the church didn't figure it was their job to figure out if God was calling someone. Only that person could know. We did have to take turns helping with occasionaly things like nursery duty, but no major roles were forced on people. Of course, that means whole ministries might fall by the wayside if no one volunteered, but it didn't work out that way--people not only filled the important jobs but also started new ministries they were particularly passionate about (everything from an infertility support group to an arts group).

It galls me that your pastor would say you should drop everything else to do their thing, giving up the things that actually match your own interests and gifts just because they have a need they think you could fill. I personally believe God wants people to use their talents, and if you have talents in writing and publishing, it almost seems like you'd be wasting them to throw that all out to run a children's ministry that would fit someone else's talents more. I mean, you don't have to do everything at once, but to spend that much time and effort on something you have no personal passion for at all would seem misguided when you have a better alternative.

In general I think many people will always take advantage of people who will just smile and do the work... I looked into a job recently that made my jaw drop considering what they were asking someone to do for the money they were willing to pay!

8:57 PM, October 26, 2007  
Blogger Crazy MomCat said...

Thank you all so much for your support. As a friend of mine told me, while my minister's tactics may have been a little unethical, the reality is he is a businessman running a business. It just so happens that business is a church.

I have send him my rejection of his request and am waiting to hear back from him. I am hoping the feelings of guilt, pressure and uncomfortableness go away when I'm at church soon.

I look at church as a safe place--a place I can always go when I need answers and comfort. Lately, with all of this, I have not felt that way at our church. If I don't get that feeling back, I'll be looking for somewhere else to go to worship.

12:02 AM, October 28, 2007  

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