There was a parish that had a notorious reputation for spitting out their pastors. Every three years, the council would review their satisfaction with the current pastor, and invariably ask for his or her resignation. Pastor Smith was on pins and needles as the council meeting marking his third anniversary drew near. He knew the Church's anti-clerical tradition, and he began to prepare for the worst. He was in consultation with his bishop over other call possibilities, should he have to make a change. He even contemplated leaving the pastorate.
The night of that dreaded council meeting, the lay president said,"Well, Pastor Smith, as you probably know, we have to ask you to step outside, while we discuss some concerns among ourselves." With his heart palpitating, Pastor Smith waited for what seemed like forever.
Finally, the president invited him back in and to have a seat. "Pastor Smith, we've reviewed the past three years, and the council has unanimously voted to renew your term as our pastor."
"That's wonderful!" cried a relieved Pastor Smith. "But tell me, that' a first here for many, many years. How did you come about to that decision?"
"Well," replied the lay president, "if it were up to us, we wouldn't have pastors at all. But as long as the Church says we have to have one, we figured you're the closest thing we'll ever get to not having a pastor."