Friday, August 27, 2010

Watch Out for the Angry Priest

Garrison Keillor always begins his monologue with "It's been a quiet week in Lake Wobegon" and then goes on to narrate life in that mythic northern town. Here at MCC "It's been a wild week." What began as an intriguing proposal, to let a production company use the church parking lot for staging a filming of a TV episode up in a home above us, turned into a quagmire. Timetables changed, other equipment arrived, people arrived earlier than planned and stayed later than anticipated.
So it was my role to remind the various managers (they all have very confusing titles like "project management coordinator to location services") that they were overstepping their boundaries and needed to adhere to what was agreed upon. Several times I had to forcefully say "no" to their insistent requests and demand the relocation of several vehicles because the noise drifted toward a neighbor. It was a pure example of "mission creep" where something keeps growing and expanding on its own momentum. My role was to contain the growth (I won't call them creeps because they are good people).
One night they were late and noisy and I blew up. I called the leaders together and read them the riot act. It's not really in my nature to go "ballistic" on others. It's not very pastoral and I don't do it very well. But they got the point, moved the vehicles turned off lights and returned to the schedule.
One of our staff members became an extra in the filming and told me today that the entire crew talks about me to the effect of "don't get the priest mad!" I wince at that. I pray that my witness this week to the hollywood people is more than a "mad priest". It's going to send me into some deep reflection of where I fit and where I don't; what I do well and what I don't.
All the while I am preparing a sermon on Luke 14:7-14 where Jesus teaches about creating a welcoming table and all the Westmont students are returning. I hope the "mad priest" goes away and they can encounter someone who really loves Jesus.


At 8:10 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

So when the week is all over (as I guess it is), what did you learn? What did they (the production company) learn? What did the church learn? Sounds like there are deeper lessons here if we have the wisdom and insight to discern them.

At 8:34 AM , Blogger donnjohnson said...

Oh yeah, the lessons for me will run deep and take time to sort out.

At 10:15 AM , Blogger PAD said...

Maybe they'll make a new TV movie about the "Mad Monk of Montecito."

At 6:36 PM , Blogger Diana said...

I do think it is possible to show the love of Jesus by clearly calling for truth and accountability. I wasn't there, so I don't know what 'going ballistic' actually looked like - but I'm guessing it was within bounds and probably very appropriate. All of us, at times, need to be reined in, to be reminded that other people are affected by our careless behavior. These folks needed to hear that and you did your job as negotiator/arbitrator/general watchdog and steward of our church property and our relationship with our neighbors. Perhaps it might have been handled with a little more finesse - but I've gotten a pretty clear message from all concerned that finesse had its limits last week. :>) Would have been ideal if they could have seen ALL of who you are as a pastor and leader, not just the angry priest bit - BUT it may very well be true that only the angry priest could have made the message as clear as it needed to be. Love to hear more as you reflect on this over the next few days and weeks.


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