Here’s the 7th Danger of Denominational Work in our list. Only one more to go after this–but #7 is a “doosey!”

7. The” comfortable life.” In some ways the work you are entering is more stressful and demanding than anything you have ever done. But in other ways you will enjoy it much more. You will work with a collection of top-notch professional ministry-oriented people. International Center work is mentally stimulating, some have likened it unto getting an extra advanced degree. You will not be bothered with volunteers who are unreliable — you will have paid staff here. You will not have to put up with a church member who is your enemy and has the power to vote against you this spring. On the evenings when you are home you very seldom get telephone calls. So, in spite of some extra pressure and demands, you will probably like this work. It can lead to the “good life syndrome” if you are not careful. You must resist this with all of your strength. Once you settle in and start taking, rather than giving, that internal compromise will affect the rest of your life. If you find yourself becoming a “comfortable bureaucrat” it’s time to leave or take a new risk. -Keith Drury

Response:

This one is hard to hear. However, it rings true with some things I’ve seen in the past, and some things I’ve experienced in the last few months of denominational work. I have seen some denominational workers, in many tribes, get a bit too cozy with the life. I’m always encouraged to see people cycle in and out of denominational service, from the local level to the general level and back again. That speaks to a local-church approach that is good and admirable. It stands to reason that those who are elected or appointed to serve at a general church level would get a pay increase from what they were doing before–but sometimes the increase is much more than others (there are exceptions to this of course, particularly lower in the pay food-chain in a denominational system.) However, I have seen people that started to live a lifestyle, fiscally, where they always had to get more and more pay–and once the cars and houses

[quote_right]Click here for the previous installments of this series on the Dangers of Denominational Work:

Part 1 – Spiritual Coolness

Part 2 – Getting Out of Touch

Part 3 – Thinking Department Growth = Church Growth

Part 4 – Overestimating Your Influence 

Part 5 – Getting Absorbed With Politics

Part 6 – Wasteful Management[/quote_right]

and vacations became standard for them, they really HAD to keep working at that level. This is a problem that irks my Dave Ramsey trained mind (and my Dutch-wife even more than me). But what I like most about what Dad said in this above coaching, is the matter of risk taking.

One of my favorite District Superintendents once told me that he was planning to resign. I felt like he was at the very top of his game. He was respected by many, and had been effective in hard-core conflicts and major church multiplication issues. In almost every measurable way he was one of the best of his ilk doing the work. I pushed him on this decision, saying it wasn’t right. He explained, “You know Dave, I’ve been doing this for a long time, and I need to get out in a local setting for a while… at least a year or more. My stories are good, and they provide some vision–but they are 10 years old. I need to go out and serve in a smaller role for a while and get some new stories.” He did just that, resigning what most considered one of the best spots in the denomination, and going to the mission field for a season, before returning to a role that was even more demanding, high-profile and necessary. I respect that decision deeply.

Resolution:

My wife and I have talked about this danger more than most–and have already resolved to live not only within our means, but well below it. I took a pay raise to do my current job, and I was well taken care of before. But one of our early decisions was to designate a real stretch to us in giving, ensuring that the blessing we’d receive would go back into kingdom multiplication, rather than just a cushier lifestyle. I’ve seen others do the same thing and I really respect them for it.

I sure don’t want to become a “comfortable beaurocrat” — so I’ll keep reminding myself to take risks and not protect my line of work. And the reality is I don’t need this job. When the day comes that I’m no longer eminently useful, or when someone else could do it better–I’m ready to step aside and leave the General’s tent to get back closer to the trenches. Part of me sorta looks forward to that day. By then my stories may be too old anyway!

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