Down by law

Mr. Crankypants’ stupid alter ego, Dan, is off at some ministers’ retreat. Dan just called here to make sure no one was illicitly logging on to his blog to write something while he was gone, and he happened to mention that the focus of the ministers’ retreat is a workshop by some guy named Scott Alexander called “Exercising Health in the Practice of Ministry.” Dan was all excited by what this Scott fellow had to say….

Dan: “I’m all excited by what Scott had to say!”

Mr. Crankypants, muttering under his breath: “You are easily excited.”

Dan: “What? What did you say?”

Mr. C: “What are you excited about?”

Dan: “Oh, Scott is telling us what everyone knows, but won’t say — that most ministers chronically work far too many hours, that chronically overworking just makes them less effective as ministers, less healthy and less able to function effectively as religious leaders.”

Fine, Dan. But what Mr. Crankypants wants to know is who is saying the same thing for the Directors of Religious Education? Many congregations routinely expect Directors of Religious Education to work far longer than the hours they get paid for. Many congregations (especially small congregations) expect Directors of Religious Education to work miracles — to accomplish fifty hours worth of work while getting paid for only seventeen with no benefits and most often no vacation. No wonder the average tenure for a Director of Religious Education is only about two and a half years — Directors of Religious Education are not stupid people, and quickly pick up on the fact that they are being exploited, so they quit.

OK, Mr. Crankypants has something to say to you Directors of Religious Education out there, so listen up. The Board of Trustees of your church is not going to change. The Board of Trustees of your church is never going to say to you, Hey you work too many hours. They are never going to say to you, Hey since you’re charged with family ministry in this church we want you to model how to be a good family member by not working any extra hours. (These lines stolen directly from what Dan reported of Scott Alexander’s workshop.) But — everyone in your church is going to notice when you work more hours than you’re supposed to, and they’re going to think, Man I can’t live up to her/his standards so I’m just not going to teach Sunday school so I’ll never measure up. There’s only one way you can get out of this double bind….

Go tell the Board of Trustees at your church that you, the Director of Religious Education, need to set a good example for all religious families, by spending lots of time with your family, and not overworking at church. Tell ’em that Mr. Crankypants said so — so they just better listen up!

Down by law. Mr. C. has got your back, yo.

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