Posted by: Botolff | January 16, 2009

Was it a dream…or was it real?

Anyone else dream about their previous ministry or their termination process?

So, I had a dream a couple nights ago…one that I remembered some of anyway.  I rarely remember my dreams.  But, I seem to be remembering more than I used to since I was terminated, and most of them aren’t very pleasant.  Sometimes they’re downright frightening.  Like one I had the other night.

I dreamt I was back in the church, or something resembling the church.  Enough said?  Yeah, right from the start, the dreams about the church haven’t been good ones.  But this one was exceptionally creepy.  The scene must have been set sometime during my termination.  I don’t remember what exactly I was doing, but I think I was meandering about the church trying to wrap things up in the wake of my sudden eviction.  I remember being in the sanctuary, a hallway and near my office.  All three places I ran into the Sr. Pastor.  He never said a word.  But he kept giving me a particular look. 

It was one of the looks I used to get from a neighborhood bully when I was a kid.  It was the intimidation look.  It wasn’t the look of fury that I would often get right before he would strike out at me.  It was more a look to remind me that he knew he had the ability to hurt me if he wanted to.  A reminder that he was there and he would do whatever he needed to to get what he wanted.  Remember, this was just a dream…or was it?  No, it really was a dream, but there’s more.

Shortly before I was terminated from my position, the pastor of the church verbally threatened me to keep quiet.  But he did it so deceptively and manipulatively, I didn’t even catch it until later.  In the middle of my termination, I went to him on a Sunday morning after service to let him know that I would be doing some mediation with his wife that Wednesday.  That’s another long story maybe for another day, but I believe my termination was directly influenced by some conflict that was happening between me and the pastor’s wife.  Anyway, I met with the pastor for all of about three minutes in his office after the service.  That’s when he made a statement to me that I will never forget. 

He meets with a group of pastors from local churches in the area once a month or so.  It’s a group we had talked about before in our meetings.  This time was very different.  After I briefly told him about the mediation, he said it was “very important for us to make that mediation happen.”  I agreed, and told him that’s why I was telling him about it.  That’s all we said to each other, until we turned to leave his office.  That’s when he said chuckling, “I met with my pastoral group this week and a guy stood up and said something about something I didn’t agree with; and I stood up and told him to sit down and shut up.”  Then he just walked away from me.  As he was walking away, I told him, “That would be an interesting discussion for us to have.” He never responded.

The first thought that came to my mind after we walked out the door was, “So you’ve proven you can be a violent man.”  And then I thought about the randomness of the comment he made.  He just threw it in there and it had nothing to do with what we were talking about…again…or did it?  I realized later that he was threatening me to keep my mouth shut and to not disagree with the process they were about to put me through.  A little later, the head elder threatened me as well.  I have that threat in writing.

Ultimately, I did disagree with a number of different things they did to me, and made my disagreements known.  Like they promised, I paid dearly for it…and so did my students and the rest of the congregation.

Anyone else out there threatened by their leadership to keep quiet during the process?  What did it cost you for them to forcefully terminate you from your position?  How much more did some of you pay for speaking up?


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