Bearnaise Sauce Dogs, Call

Performing to Type

I've been reading Mary-Ann Bowman's blog for a long time now. She writes about her Bernese Mountain Dogs, how she breeds them and trains them and loves them. And she writes about life. Today she described different categories of agility competition for dogs, and the community pressure to perform in a certain category, when really, Bernese Mountain Dogs who are of the right "type," who match the standard for the breed, are really not particularly lithe in build and probably do better in another category, where the jumps are set a few inches lower. There is such a category, and oddly enough it is described as "Preferred" when in fact it's snubbed by other Berner owners, who prefer to have their dogs compete in "Regular," going over higher jumps.

This is not really about Berners and agility, though we did once sign up for an Agility class with Sam, only to discover he was terrified of the tunnel, and we ended up running Molly over the course, who loved it, but of course had Teh Arf-ritis from Heck and could never have been a competitor, though heaven knows she would have loved the attention.

This is really about community standards and expectations. What's in a title? I'm interviewing for jobs that are "Pastor" and for jobs that are "Senior Pastor." One sounds more impressive than the other, simply because of that hierarchical word, "Senior." It says, "You've arrived!" My Presbyterian friends talk a lot about whether they'll get to be "Head of Staff," something I don't hear in the UCC, but we all think the same way. If you get to be the boss of another pastor, that's saying something. 

I guess.

But the message in Mary-Ann's post is different. The point is not to collect a certain title but to express fully who you are (or who your dog is, in her case). The point is to figure out, am I the type for this kind of job, or for that one? Where will my gifts be best used? Everyone ought to receive fair compensation, but the title or the package is not the prime object, or rather it ought not be. 

Where is the fit?

So tonight I'm asking myself the same sorts of questions committees ask me. What are the things I love to do in ministry? What are the things I'd just as soon not? What sorts of challenges energize me, and which ones would I just as soon leave for someone else to try and accomplish? 

This doesn't begin to touch on the personal aspects of life and how they wrap into and around the search, but if the job is not a fit, the rest won't be either, at least I don't think so. 

The sturdy dog better-suited to pulling a cart can still run the agility course, but if you place the bars too high, she won't be successful. She's not the type. Let her take the course that fits, and see her fly. 


10 thoughts on “Performing to Type”

  1. You know, there’s so much wisdom here. I’ve got a lot to pray over as a result… Thanks.

  2. I love this. And you.
    And I’m delighted by the bounding Berner graphic!!!

  3. As you might imagine, after my recent experience I have thought a lot about this….hoping you find the position that lets you fly!

  4. There’s an OLD Amy grant song that says
    All I ever have to be is what you made me
    Any more or less would be a step out of your plan
    and in the language of Corinthians: feet shouldn’t try to be hands 🙂

  5. Gonna shimmy up the steeple and add my own shouted AMEN to this one! (Speaking of types, I’m more of a tree climber than a social climber!)

  6. absolutely true. However, I’d say one of the problems with the “Senior” title is that there are stereotypical ways it has been perceived or not. Someone just said to me recently, if you decide to lead, it needs to come out of who you are, and not out of someone else’s expectations imposed, (or, sadly, more often the cast with me, expectations I impose on myself.)
    so much wisdom here!

  7. I’m keeping a good thought as you look for the right fit for you–and I love the dog graphic!

  8. Love this wisdom – and its author too. Praying that that all becomes shiningly clear very very soon. xxx

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