I woke up Monday morning expecting to feel different in my new interim senior pastor role. I was certain that I would command a new sense of respect, power, and authority.
My dog Isaiah, of course, was my first test. When I told him this was my first day in my new position, he rolled over on his back to have his belly scratched. Later on, he refused to come inside when I called him. I gave up and left him outside all day.
As I walked into the church building, one parishioner called me the Grand Poobah. I offered him to kiss my ring, but he said that’s reserved for popes. Another person said I looked a foot taller, but I was a foot taller than she is before I assumed the church’s helm.
Others have been scheming with me on the best ways to maximize my newfound authority. My mentor reminded me that when the president of South Africa took leave a few years ago, the deputy president invaded Lesotho.
The senior pastor himself joked that I might be the next Al Haig. For those of you who missed or slept through that era of American history, Haig served in many government positions, including Secretary of State under Reagan. When Reagan was hospitalized after his assassination attempt, Haig reportedly said, “As of now, I am in control here, in the White House.” The irony is that Haig was really fourth in line to inherit the presidency.
As I contemplate the humble reality of the position I’ve temporarily inherited, I wonder about the adventures the next four months have in store. I pray for an extra dose of patience and grace. I hope for new experiences and challenges. And every time I’m tempted to quote Haig, I’m reminded that we are never, ever really in control.