Lisa's had to deal with this a couple of times now, and I'm sure other people deal with the same kind of thing at differing levels. Lisa is a church employee, so she's kind of in the spotlight, like I am as a public school teacher. When the school board has budget meetings, I don't go. I realize they're deciding my fate, but I also know that they are responsible individuals who will not suddenly cut off every aspect of my pay (even without a union to represent me). I also do not live in the same community in which I work, so I guess I figure it's up to those people to decide. Lastly, I know that some people will say some things that will hurt. While they often would not take a shot as me individually, they will say something about all teachers and how much they make.
However, Lisa is a member of our church as well as a worker as an assistant of sorts to the pastor. The last time she had a rough meeting was when the church decided to make her position a full time job to be performed by a called employee. Lisa could not receive a call, so, even though she wanted to be part time, she wasn't really a candidate for the new job. At that time, the church created a new job for her, some of which was the same as her old job, but much of it was doing research and other tasks the head pastor did not have time to complete. While this job does not require a call, she sometimes felt like she needed more education in some of the aspects of our religion in order to fully perform her duties.
Early this year, Lisa and I discussed her need to renew her teaching license, so we were looking into classes that might work for her. I suggested that it would be nice if she could combine something to help her in the church with the requirements she'd need to meet. This was at about the same time that our pastor suggested she take classes that would enable her to be a called worker for the church. Someone (me, Lisa, or Pastor) put the two together and figured it would be a great idea to renew her teaching license while becoming a more qualified church worker.
However, with her part time employment and my teaching salary, we had to hope the church was willing to pay for the classes and that the program would let her in, since it's a teaching program, and she is not employed by the school at our church. It worked out: the church has a fund for furthering education and the college accepted her application. As would be expected, she was a stellar student, even receiving an extra nod from the professors that she might consider becoming a professor herself. Everything seemed wonderful. Now, all the church had to do was call her to her current position (with a few modifications), and she'd be ready to use her new knowledge to help inform her already vast abilities.
"Wait a second," she was told a week before the voters' meeting, " people have had some questions." People wonder what she does, whether she teaches, why she's getting a call, etc. Obviously not our pastor or the council that she reports to, but people. Of course, when the meeting came to offer Lisa a call, those people spoke up (after the budget for paying Lisa had already been approved). They wondered about what she does, they wondered who paid for the schooling, they wondered why there weren't more teachers at the school and whether our kids went to the school.
All irrelevant. The money for schooling was budgeted. Her job was already approved. She does behind-the-scenes work that our pastor and council know is useful. Another teacher is a school issue. And on and on. People started airing their own personal beefs with the way the church hires people or pays for schooling, maybe some of which was viable, but still irrelevant. Lisa had taken the courses and still had a budgeted job. If they did not make her a called church worker, she'd still have that job without the recognition. Same pay.
While airing their beefs about other issues, they made Lisa feel like she was unwanted. I told Lisa it was a vocal minority of a vocal minority, since less than 10% of the church was even at the meeting. However, one member voicing an opinion as loudly as any other is a member of our Bible study group. That's when it feels personal. When a friend says that the budget should not have your position but should instead have another teacher added in the school budget, she's calling for your job. Of course, she's also quite misinformed about how much Lisa's position costs the church compared to a teacher with full-time pay and benefits (about three times as much money). It's also like saying, "Hey, Friend, I don't think you do much for our church, even though you talk about what you do at our meetings together." Ouch! It would also be like two of our Bible group members who live in the community in which I teach going to the school board and specifically requesting my job so that their kid could get a new teacher.
Lisa, like many of us, is overqualified for much of what she ends up doing. Our pastor was looking to make her even more overqualified for some of the tasks, but also make her qualified to do some more of the tasks that he might have avoided using her for up until this point. I assume a lot of the sentiment from the group of protesters will disappear, but it does make you wonder a little bit whether we need to make sure others know about what we do in order for it to be important. That applies to any job. More importantly to church is how to get along with others after such an episode. How is there not tension? How can Lisa participate in Bible study with someone who called for her job publicly?
Maybe it's your job, your ministry group, your political opinions, or even how you raise your kids. Whatever someone belittles while at church hurts that much more because it's supposed to be a safe place for us. Instead, we have to deal with the Ol' Boys club -- apparently those who are riding in the fast lane to heaven, and it's not easy to forgive or forget. When fellow church members spend a full half hour bad-mouthing your wife's job, promotion, education, as well as how you raise your kids, it makes you feel a little like throwing punches. However, I've learned that turning the other cheek, while it might anger those trying to antagonize you, tends to be the best response, at church and elsewhere.