Tuesday, 28 October 2014

Oh, you wanted me to do it!

An intriguing conversation in progress at the moment where one person has taken on a role in the church and the expectations and assumptions of them, the dog collar and the members are all rather disconnected and the body that is Church is rather disjointed. All in all it's rather reminiscent of a lecture I had whilst learning the role of an Industrial engineer where the lecturer brought the 'self made man' into the equation.

"The problem with many 'self made' managers is that many of them have put themselves together without any manual or construction guide and if what they do works in and shape, size or form then the assumption that they're got it right is enough to keep them repeating their mistakes until they, you, or the organisation dies!"

The real problem appears to be that those who do stuff in a Church setting are rarely properly trained to do whatever it is that they do - even when they are the problem exists in that those who do are rarely told what is expected and how they are expected to do it - and this might well be the problem with the person I'm conversing with.

Consider the hypothetical situation whereby someone takes on the role of feeding, watering and generally caring for a church's Gerbils. Now they do this on behalf of the dogcollar, the person who normally cared for the Gerbil (being charged to do so when they were licensed to the church) so that the dog collar can move away from Gerbil husbandry and move on to other more pressing needs within the Church; a situation that finds its parallels in the creation of deacons in the early Church (see the book of acts).

Now all goes well at first and the 'Gerbillator' waters, feeds and keeps the dear little creatures happy and content whilst the dogcollar goes of to do whatever it is that they've been freed up to do. A few weeks pass and there are reports that all is not well with the Gerbils; so the dogcollar pops by and casually takes a look at the situation. The reports are true and indeed the Gerbils are unhappy and generally just a little uncared for.

"This is all your fault," cry the Friends of the Gerbils, "You're the Vicar, and you've let us all down - we are unhappy and all feeling uncared for!"

The poor old dogcollar, taking it on the chin, issues a 'mea culpa' and changes the straw, feeds the Gerbils that remain and mutters apologies to all who hear (and they do!) of the poor animal husbandry on offer at St Funtzbuckets by the Green. They are universally acknowledged as b
'being poor'  - the woeful goings make for a very sad situation indeed.

A few days later our hapless dog collar bumps into the 'Gerbillator' who is full of smiles and wearing their Gerbil Minister Badge with pride. Upon asking how things are going (knowing full well that they are perhaps a little out of control already) the dog collar is stunned to hear that all is going 'wonderfully well' as the keeper of the Gerbils has been away on an eight-week cruise around the world!

Out comes a bundle of photographs of the places visited and the meals consumed and for dessert the comment is made that some of the members are quite concerned about the Gerbils and the care they have received from the church (which of course means the dog collar)!

So, taking courage in both hands, the dog collar remarks, "But that's your area of responsibility!"
The response is one that every person who dares to delegate fears: "Yes, but I've been busy doing my own thing haven't I?"

Now, unless some church I know nothing of does have Gerbils, this is hopefully a safe portrayal of the conversation I have been having. My friend is stuck somewhere up a gum tree because at the end of the day they are indeed responsible for the delivery of whatever has in my story become Gerbils!

The reality is that what should have been done has not and at the end of the day and in the final analysis (and all those other great expressions) - the blame lies quite squarely at the dogcollars feet (but should 'blame' ever be part of Church I have to ask - another thought for another day!).

The problem is that we are entering the world of 'can't live with them - can't function without them' and this is where it gets interesting.

My friend has encountered this before and when they tried to address it the previous Gerbillator left in high dudgeon because 'too much was expected' of them. Not only that but supporters of both the Gerbils and the Gerbillator also left because of the poor care exhibited and the way their friend (the Gerbillator) was treated - going off to the promised land, a place of straw and water (milk and honey don't do it for Gerbils you know), and overflowing Gerbil nuts (the food, not the characteristics of the congregation - mind you, now I think of it ....).

So some pleas:

If you take on a role, discharge it as well as you can - make sure you have what you need to do the job and if you decide to take a world cruise (or just go to Blackpool for the week) please let those who need to know that you're not doing whatever it is that you're supposed to be doing so they can arrange cover (or you could do that yourself) and make sure that no Gerbils are injured during the making of that thing called Church!

If you happen to be a leader in Church - please make sure you keep a weather eye on the things happening (or perhaps not happening) on your patch - it might upset those who are doing stuff (but it is NOT 'checking up on them) but it will avoid the mea culpa situations later. It's good to do regular chats and have staff meetings and the like but it's the stuff you find out from others (usually as they're leaving) that speaks loudest.


If you're doing something and it's going wrong - or perhaps you're not doing stuff and that's why it's going wrong - switch on the grey matter and talk to the dog collar, not the rest of the blessed Church, because the minister, not those around you, need to know there's a need to be resolved - it's called being team.

Now - when my friend reads this will they show it to their Gerbillator I wonder?

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