My Style Gets me in Trouble

My father and his brothers and sisters

My father and his brothers and sisters

Let me tell you what I learned several Sundays ago.  The College Mennonite Church honored a pastor on his retirement and welcomed four new members. See the service by clicking here. We were encouraged after the benediction to personally welcome the new members and to go to a reception in honor of the retiree.  But, I wanted to go to my Sunday group known as Borderlands.

My  Joy and I almost always sit near the front of the auditorium. When we  left our spaces and entered the hallway we saw a long line waiting to greet the new members and the retiring pastor.  My Joy went directly to her class, but I decided to pass everyone else and go directly to the head of the line.  I briefly greeted the retiring pastor, skipped the food, and saved precious time.

As I walked by the line I discovered the beginning of the line was much  closer to where the new members were standing.  To greet them  I broke through the line in front of a close friend of mine.  My friend’s face broke into a big, beautiful and forgiving smile as  he said, “there goes the bishop”.

I do not like being called bishop and often protest its application to me. I did not feel the impact of the morning until after listening to Borderland’s impromptu discussion of the use of power in the church. At the end, I confessed my misuse of power that morning and that my friend reminded him of the behavior of a bishop.  (One of the Borderlands group suggested that I might better make my confession in front of the congregation!)  Ouch!

The pastor and his family

The pastor and his family

I cannot deny the impact on me of one decade as a bishop.  I wish I had a picture of me wearing my black hat.  But I do not believe that being  a bishop is totally responsible for my behavior.

After I retired from conference assignments,   I used the DISC personality Profile System to build teams.  I learned that I have a High D behavior which is described as”strong-willed, determined, and driven; people with a D-style personality project an air of self-confidence wherever they go. Their competitive nature and results-driven approach is something to celebrate.”  I was taught that a High D tends to regard rules as something to be broken.

Testing the rules

Testing the rules

I also learned that when I am under pressure I become a High C with behavior that is both reserved and task-oriented and is often  cautious and careful. A High C usually focuses on facts, rules, and correctness. I was taught that a High C tends to make and keep rules.

These behaviors allowed me to accept ordination as bishop, and survive.  I learned that when I broke through the line on Sunday, I was not nessarily acting like a bishop, I was simply being myself.  That does not excuse my inappropriate behavior.


About Martin Lehman

I was born 92 years ago, the son of a Mennonite pastor and organic gardener in Franklin County, Pennsylvania. At age 10 I was baptized as a member of the Marion Mennonite Church. I own the "Old Fool" moniker because I want to walk the Jesus Way even though the world and much of the church takes me as a fool for doing so. In my life I have moved from being a young conservative to an elderly radical. I tell that story in My Faith Journey posted on my website.
This entry was posted in Church, Highlights, Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink.

3 Responses to My Style Gets me in Trouble

  1. Ken Seitz (Jr.) says:


    We’re not all that well acquainted, although we’ve met several times. You know me best as married to Audrey Metz from former days in Florida. She speaks occasionally of her admiration for your willingness to go public on at least one occasion in her hearing to state how you moved along to espouse new ideas and leave behind some “old” thinking and attendant behaviors. (Those may not be your words, but mine as a way of capturing the essence of what Audrey passed on to me.)

    Thanks for sharing with us your “going-to-the-front-of-the-line experience” and the reflections and follow up that ensued. Whether “C” or “D” type or a mixture of both, it behooves us to be sensitive to the possibility of giving offense by “pulling rank,” although it may have been totally inadvertent.

    I/we enjoy reading your posts and generally are able to profit from them

    May the Lord bless you with abundant joy!!


    Your post

  2. Freda Zehr says:

    When I looked at the picture of your father and his brothers I became of the fact that I knew your father. For some reason I had never realized that he was your father. Again, i must say that I look forward to your blogs, and it is the first email I open up when you are there with a new one!

  3. Miriam Showalter says:

    I like that about the DISC — that it provides some insight into the changes we may all naturally encounter when under stress. It seems more realistic and helpful in that way.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.