A long, long, time ago, when I was training for ministry, an older minister advised us that we should never let folk know how busy we are. His concern was that if folk perceived us as being very busy, they wouldn't want to bother us with important pastoral issues and our relationship with our communities would be diminished. He maintained that we should be worried if folk approached us, saying:"I know you're busy, but..." That seemed like sound advice and I have tried always to play down the volume and scale of my work. But still, folk approach me saying"I know you're busy..."
And, all this time later, I have come to be suspicious of that advice. Firstly, because it never seems to stop folk lobbing more work my way, no matter how busy or otherwise they perceive me to be. Secondly, because it is more often than not, simply a turn of phrase that folk use as a means of respectful approach. And, thirdly, because it just is. I am busy. Bigger workloads are being placed on fewer people. That's the way it is. Me pretending that it is otherwise serves no good purpose. And I believe that folk often discern that there can be a competence in busyness (though not always). Of course, there is always the danger of becoming too busy. But the fact that others see that we are busy does not diminish our ability to offer effective pastoral support when invited to do so. Nor, in my experience, does it dissuade them form requesting the support that they desire.
So I am going to stop feeling bad when folk approach me, saying:"I know you're busy, but..." Their perception does not make me a bad pastor!
- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad