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!
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.
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.