In the blogs and comments of “THE FORGOTTEN SHEPHERDESS,” we should stop and pause to think about what meaning we share in understanding the plight of Left-in, Left-out and Left-behind. (Left-in has never been mentioned in any blog forum but we do admit that he/she must exist)
In this writing I do wish to cast some light on what they are trying to say to our readers. Now that our upcoming constituency meeting is just around the corner, I think it to be wise to at least bring some clarity and understanding to this, how should I say, rather sensitive discussion.
Look at it from these lens, we are all human and emotional when it comes to our security. So, at least, we could seek to understand where those who feel “left” are coming from. Let me try to explain who they are and what they mean. First…
Who are the Left-in? The left–in are apparently the “Fat Cats” who have become obese by constituents over feeding them with the luxury of being “in.” Being “in” for them means that they (Fat Cats) exist because of “your” likability and “your” vote to let them remain where they are. They feed on “you” and have an insatiable appetite for more of what “you” feed them.
What do they have, you ask? No church and people to pastor. That’s right! They don’t have to put up with the stress of facing members each week who demand more than what any human being could give. And if you can believe it or not they don’t want to go back to “them churches.” Yes, you also feed them with the ability to network in other places of the North American Division as they seek more, through sitting on boards and committees with the future possibility to position themselves for something else to get fat on. It all comes down to one word called “desire.” To be something that God may not want them to be–and member’s know how to spoon feed a plate of desires to the “Fat Cats” very well (Watch them Fraternity Brothers).
Yes, what you see as a constituent is what you have made, like them or not. They feed on interactions with you when they come to your church and give a good sermon that tickles your fancy and “woos” you over to them as someone who is knowledgeable. They feed on back room conversations as they seek information about the pastor as to what they have done or haven’t done as it impresses on their mind that they don’t want to go back to “them churches.” “Please, please, please put me back in.” Oh boy, can they sing and dance.
Who are the Left-in? Fat Cat workers who are begging the President (And he’s one too) and you as the constituent to let them stay fat! So, they can stay left-in. So, what do they want? Fat Cats want to stay fat all-of-the-time, for as long as you will let them. Come on! Most of us would like a job like that.
Next, is Left-out. They are the marginalized. And sadly the ones who need help the most. The surge of Spanish speaking people across America is phenomenal. They are out growing Anglos and African-Americans in church growth. We were astonished at a recent article published in USA Today in the religious section pointing out that the Seventh-day Adventist Church is the fastest growing denomination. Yet it also pointed out, of which many readers missed, that without the Spanish growth the Church would be no different than any other denomination. Ron Clouzet said, “Hispanic Adventists are “the one group that is growing very well,” he added.”If we didn’t have that group, we would look even more dismal.”” (See the entire article @ http://www.usatoday.com/news/religion/2011-03-18-Adventists_17_ST_N.htm#)
What you as a constituent will come to understand, whether you are African-American, of Spanish descent, Anglo or any other nationality, eventually people will want inclusion from the top to the bottom. Therefore, to deliberately exclude any nationality of positions in administration and departments would be equal to racism. To say, “indeed we want their growth for the books but not their leadership in administration and departments,” would be similar to a galloping horse with a cart in front of him/her. Every minister, teacher or worker should be considered for any position that is open based on their ability and service, not gender or race. This evens the playing field. If you don’t like it you should not have jumped into the arena of multi-culturalism.
We often have heard and used the term “Two nations,” describing the gulf between Black and White America. Little do we realize that there exist within our Conference, “Two Conferences” one Spanish and the other African-American. Is the majority guilty of racial division through exclusion? Have we Left-out the very people whom we sought and are seeking to embellish our baptismal numbers across the Union? Hummmmm!
Finally, we come to the Left-behind. And the “Fat Cats” understand this basic fact, there are too few positions in the office to hand out to every person or minister who seeks them. While this is an undeniable fact of ministry and education, the Left-behind are those who may never have the opportunity to serve as a “Fat Cat.” Virtually, the majority of ministers/educators in the Southwest Region Conference will spend their entire ministerial/teaching career until they die in pastoral ministry and the class room–providing that they did not burn out, were involved in a moral fall or received an invitation to serve somewhere else. My major emphasis is that the greatest workers in the Southwest Region Conference, who deserve a “medal of honor,” are Pastors and educators who are “Lifers” who receive the lowest amount of pay compared to the “Fat Cats.” Let us not forget, in many cases they put up with ungrateful members and parents. Ain’t that a paradox? Give them a Rolex watch someone!
For your knowledge and as a constituent that is seeking to understand, you should call Risk Management, and ask which medically prescribed medications are workers taking within the North American Division? Believe me they can tell you, because they have told us at our workers meetings. One lecturer said, “It is shameful.” And the cost of health insurance is skyrocketing. He even said that the churches in our world field have a direct impact on the demand for these medications that workers are taking for depression, sleep, internal disorders and more (When I related this gut concern to a member, he looked at me with a smile of “I’m glad”). I know that some of you might be glad that ministers who are expected to demonstrate their faith and teachers whom you think aren’t teaching are getting what some of you are getting in your professions. “There just deserves.”I ask God to have mercy on you. I say, “Life does not discriminate when it comes to the word “unfair.”” I learned from a well known psychologist that life is unfair and sometimes the “good” get a bad deal too.
An honest “Fat Cat” who has looked at the statistics would conclude that a rotation of ministers taking some sort of Sabbatical (for at least two to five years) would cut deeply into the health care cost. Let me ask you, is this a part of the upcoming Strategic Plan? It should be foremost, not only for ministers, but for teachers as well. (How about this concept Dr. Stanley? Would this improve performance and productivity if ministers and teachers realized that a system of rotation existed that would give them time off before they returned back into pastoral ministry and the teaching profession? Hey, I’m on your side)
I can tell you this with almost absolute certainty, if the pastoral ministry and education were the highest paid jobs in the North American Division, with a travel budget as the President of a Conference, treated well and remembered by the churches they pastor and the schools they teach in, they wouldn’t be trying to become a Fat Cat, but one of those who really would like to be left-behind or left-out. Why? They would come to understand that the local church and church schools make our Conference, Union and Denomination function. Without the local church there would be no denomination. It boils down to one word called “security.” Believe it or not most people want security in the work place and at home. Then they would have a different vision of where they are assigned because they would see the church and the classroom as the best place to be, not in the Mansion. Give ministry and education the top salary and see what happens? Give them the ability to travel just like the guys and girls in the big house. Then, anyone who says they are not working for money and a raise up in the “big house” will see a big shift from the “big house” to the real “big house” which is the local church. We saw an exodus of African-American ministers leave the Anglo conferences out west in a hurry to get back into the regional conferences because of the new retirement program (I Commend our President for this).
In conclusion, change the system! Be real! Be innovative! Try to put yourself in their shoes! Demand something different but doable. Demand nothing but the best for every worker! Don’t settle for rhetoric that is the same old same old. As a constituent think of it like this, if you don’t make some real difference your churches will eventually suffer too. And that’s a bad deal for everybody!
The present existing set-up of our system today seems backwards and weird. I tell you, keep two eyes on the “Fat Cats.” From the General Conference, the Union and to our Conference, because if you turn your head, you might get sucked up by the vacuum of bad ideas, and a diet of nothing but real cheese, I mean real cheese. And a diet on too much cheese is bad for your health. Honest!
~A Recent Follower of This Blog