One of the challenges of being in Christian ministry is the fact that people are generally lovely and always nice until they don't get something they want in their timescale and then you see the other side of the coin.
I can find myself called out in the early hours of the morning for what the person on the other end of the wire considers to be a crisis only, upon arriving at the scene of the much vaunted devastation to find that in fact what I have arrived at is essentially a non-event. When challenging one of the callers to such an event (a few years back) the responses was, "Well you wouldn't have come if I'd told you exactly what was happening!
So, after a recounting of the story of the 'little boy who cried wolf' I resolved the essentially non-issue and left them to it. A few days later one of the parishioners mentioned that 'n' was quite upset because although I sorted their problem, I had's 'squared things away' after it. My response, knowing it would go back to the source, was, "I put out the fire, it was up to them to clear the debris!"
The person in question neither called or spoke to me again, something which reminded me of the saying:
"If you lend someone a fiver and you never see them again, it was probably worth it!'
Another example of the 'nice' person comes to the fore when you have people who take on roles in the Church and never actually do anything to fulfil them. This can often be compounded by the fact that they will tell people how much they do and yet, when the situation arises such that some of those to whom it was supposed to being done are encountered, it transpires that the 'doing' was all on paper and in their head, nothing real meaningful or valid was ever done. This is a two edged sword for it exposes the (un)helpful helper for what they are and results in the (un)helped folk moving on because the Vicar left them dangling.
So here's a little plea for those who want to offer their services:
If you offer to do something - do it or come and tell the minister that it's not being done!
That way the minister, or someone else, can provide the pastoral care or service promised and the needy are not left to their own devices and the feeling that they have been forgotten.
To those who have a need:
If it has been agreed that something will happen and it hasn't, contact the minister and ask if there's a problem.
The reality is that the minister probably thinks that everything is going well, especially if the 'helper' tells them that! A little input from outside the loop results in a reassignment of labour and the needs met with smiles all round. Silence is the path to crisis, failure and shared pain!
And to the clergy and leader types:
If, like me you think that checking up shows no trust in those around you, put that thought to one side and make sure that you touch base with the helped to check on realities.
It's easy for nice people to portray themselves as doing when in fact they are not: I'm sure they do this in the belief that they will 'catch up' and resolve issues (which they rarely do) but every time this has happened, the situation is that helped and helpers alike are damaged and relationships broken.
I have come to realise that managing the help is not about distrust but about good management.
I have also come to realise that the even the very nicest of folk are merely waiting for the opportunity to prove otherwise should things not work in the way that they desire - it's called be human and it's something we all can do at times. Just reminds us that we sometimes need thick skin to serve others - none more so than when working in Church.
It only gets worse when we run out of Bourbon!