I gave 40 years of good service to my employers, but was ready for retirement when it came. The prospect of no longer being answerable to a boss seemed attractive, but that proved a misconception. I wasn't really free to do what I wanted, when I wanted, how I wanted.
After all, I had married someone always eager to remind me that a shelf needed fixing, the lawn needed cutting or it was time to visit the shopping center.
The English poet & preacher John Dunne once said "no man is an island" and I'm constantly reminded of this.
Here in the land of the free, in fact in any land it seems to me, our fate, freedom and fortunes are dependent on others. And I'm very aware of it here at the 59th General Conference Session.
Many good friends are not the people I once knew. They are withdrawn, anxious, jumpy and jittery.
And the reason, well, tonight the Nominating Committee is convened and tomorrow it snaps into action. There are jokes about a top secret organization operating behind locked doors, sinister thoughts of CIA, KGB, James Bond, white smoke in the Vatican. You see, it's getting out of hand already which is a shame, because it's no laughing matter. People's jobs and futures are at stake.
Sure, the Nominating Committee will bring recommendations to the floor that will elevate people to exciting new positions of responsibility within the church but, in turn, it will mean that others will be removed from positions that have been their lives, their love, their passion.
Some will say, "the Nominating Committee hasn't recommended me, the delegates have voted for somebody else. I'm out of a job. What do I do now? Where do I go and what of my family?"
But, that's democracy. That's what the Seventh-day Adventist Church is good at, that's what GC Session is all about.
And it doesn't matter who you are when the axe falls, or how big your role in the Church. If it falls, you're out. You are yesterday's man.
And this time tomorrow we will know Pastor Paulsen's fate, whether the President of the World Church is yesterday's man.
He's been the spiritual and administrative leader of the Church for 11 years. He's 75 and may feel it's time to call it a day, preferring to hold his own fate in his hands. Health issues might make his decision for him or his wife may have shelves that need fixing, lawns that needs mowing or, oh no please, not that. She may need him to go shopping!
Then again, he may not get the nomination and the church, through its democratic election process may feel it's time for change. If I'm right, the current American president campaigned for Change. Do you have a view on that General McChrystal?
--John Smith is a former radio producer for the British Broadcasting Corporation. He is producing the Atlanta 2010 Today radio podcast for the Adventist Church's World Session.