I'm sure many have read the somewhat cynical description of a minister's settling-in period. It goes something like this:
First year - honeymoon period. Everyone is excited and loves what you are doing.
Second year - things don't look so good. We don't like you so much.
Third year - we really don't like you much.
Fourth year - now things are happening and we are getting down to work.
For all this is a cynical way of putting it, I think that there is truth in these words. Maybe it's a bit over dramatic to talk about not being liked, but the fact is that in the first year the minister comes fresh and willing to listen and bringing things that previous minister didn't do. Mistakes or ignorance are put down to his or her newness and there is a willingness to overlook things.
In the second year, the freshness is gone. All the new exciting things the minister did are now part of the staus quo and to be expected. But the people are starting to miss some of the things the old minister did and the new one doesn't. Also, change was good, but now it is starting to affect me too close to home - can't you just change the things I want changed? The new ideas are good, but we hesitate to pay the cost.
I don't know about the third year! I haven't been there yet. And it is still too early to speak much about the second year - only I anticipate some of this happening. Ministry is a constant push of relationship building and change management. Perhaps by the fourth year there is time for a bit of free-wheeling. Until then it's pedal all the way!
And of course we remember that the church belongs to Jesus. It's all about him and not my 'ministry.'