A few days ago, June 16 came and went with no fanfare, no celebration, just very quietly. But that date was and is significant to me. June 16 was my eighth year of employment at my present job.
I am called to be a writer and speaker; but my “day-time” job is a business administrator for a church. Although I’ve been at this particular church for eight years, I have worked as a Church Business Administrator (CBA) for seventeen years.
I’ve had a lot of fun working as a CBA and I’ve had some sad times too. As in most jobs, there have been times of frustration and times of being so busy I couldn’t think straight by the end of the day. I’ve had some great laughs and there’ve been hard times when I’ve shed many tears.
My first position as a CBA was for a church with a paid staff (at its largest) of seven people. I started there in November, 1987. In January of that year, the church experienced a fire that gutted the sanctuary and most of the surrounding classrooms. When I joined the staff, the congregation was meeting across the street from its original location at the local high school while the building was being rebuilt. The offices were located in a house at the back of the church property.
I was there for the remainder of the rebuilding, the building of a new sanctuary (we outgrew the old one), the MOVE across the county line to the new property/sanctuary, the start of a preschool and kindergarten, the changes in staff, etc. A lot can happen in nine years. We had some funny times there although the laughs sometimes came after the fact…
… like the time I was completely alone in the building during lunch one hot, summer day. I don’t remember exactly where everyone was, but I do remember that the Senior Pastor had taken his youngest son to lunch. I went down the hall to the supply closet, got what I needed and was walking back up the hall, my mind completely focused on the next thing I needed to do. Out of the corner of my right eye, I spotted something on the floor. Thinking it was a rope, I headed in that direction to pick it up. However, the closer I got to the object, I realized it wasn’t a rope at all. It was a coiled snake. A live, coiled snake. I backed up, gave the snake a wide berth, and ran to my desk like the devil himself was after me. I paged the senior pastor and when he returned my call, the conversation went something like this:
Me: “You must get back here immediately! I don’t care where you are, whether you’ve eaten or not, or where you’re heading next. GET BACK HERE NOW!!!!!” (Of course, the first thing that pops into his mind is the building is on fire.)
SP: “Why? What’s wrong? Is the building on fire?”
Me: “No, but there is a HUGE snake coiled up in the hallway.”
SP: “A snake? Is that all?”
Me: “IS THAT ALL?? YOU BETTER GET BACK HERE RIGHT NOW AND KILL THIS THING OR I’M LEAVING AND I MAY NOT BE BACK!”
He actually had the nerve to laugh before he hung up!
Thirty minutes later, the Senior Pastor and his son nonchalantly walked in. By that time, I was practically on top of my desk for fear of seeing that snake slither around the corner towards me. Upon seeing the size and type of snake, I was told it’s a harmless, 3-foot black snake. As far as I’m concerned, no snake is harmless, I don’t care what color it is. And it wasn’t 3 feet long; it was at least six feet long!
We had some sad times there…when some of our staff moved away, when members of the church passed away…and we had some hard times too, like most churches do. But for the most part, it was a job I enjoyed. When the Senior Pastor left to start another church, I knew I’d be leaving soon too. I had been there just under nine years and I was burned out. Most people find it hard to believe that church work can be so stressful. It is rewarding work, but stressful. I decided that I would never work as a CBA again. Never say “never” to God, unless you want to do exactly what you said you would not do. Eight years later, I was back working in a church as a CBA.
I just celebrated my eighth anniversary as the CBA at this church. It’s been a totally different experience because I don’t attend the church as a member—I’m just employed there. But I’ve never been made to feel as I’m “just an employee.” The Sunday before I began work, I was welcomed by the entire congregation. They have supported me when I’ve been ill, when my husband had surgeries, when my father was hospitalized and in a rehab center for a month and most recently, during the six times my mother has been hospitalized in the last two months. They have prayed with me and for me and my family. Try getting that kind of support and encouragement in a large corporation, like…well, you fill in the name of most any corporation.
It’s interesting. I never chose the career path of a Church Business Administrator. Obviously, God chose it for me. And it was a good choice.