Monday, April 19, 2010

The Negotiation Dance

So I am in this awkward phase of the process.  I've picked my school, communicated my decisions, and now am waiting to hear back (hopefully I'll hear back) when the schools receive the letters.  But the most uncomfortable stuff is at work.  You'll recall I work in a non-ordained ministry in a congregation.

First, I've requested a deferment with the school, and now I have to figure out if I am going to be starting school this fall or next fall.  Still, I had to open up a conversation at work about the future of my employment.  I work in a field in which it can take a year to hire, so advance notice is really helpful.  In some ways it would be better to just be submitting my resignation.  Instead, I am conversing with them about whether me working on a limited/part-time basis would be mutually beneficial, and if so, under what type of arrangement.  All the while, I am holding up the possibility that it might be best for one or the other of us if we part ways. 

At times, the conversation feels highly generative, mutually supportive, frank yet compassionate, and productive.  Other times it feels, well, laced with distrust.  I've only been there a few years, and have come to be there after my predecessor served the congregation for 25 years...soooo, we are just settling into our relationship with one another, and now I've thrown this in the mix.  They took a bet on me, and they won't get their full returns no matter what way we dice matter what, I am going to be there for at least a handful of years shorter than we all anticipated at the starting gate, and probably much shorter than that.

Here is what I am struggling with tonight.  The congregation is in the midst of a big ministerial transition as is, for another reason, and they've been handling it really well.  I worry that I will become the "safer" outlet for that anxiety, and yes, my ego is slightly involved because whenever I am going to leave, I'd really like it to be under conditions in which people can still see the good things I've done over the last several years.  I am not sure I am going to have that experience, however, because in this negotiation dance, I can already feel the tidal wave of congregational anxiety is right behind us.

(P.S.  Just to make things a little harder, tonight I also learned funding was cut for a position we were adding to my expected revenues have not surfaced.  This is TOUGH stuff!)

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