May 29, 2014

Thought for 05.29.14

Two enemies there are of doing work;
the one says, “It’s not my job,”
the other, “If I don’t do it, no one will.”


Tobias Stanislas Haller BSG

4 comments:

thomas bushnell, bsg said...

Why is the second one an enemy of doing work?

Tobias Haller said...

Thomas, that's the paradoxical part of this -- these two represent the opposite poles of the dilemma. The second becomes a problem when someone -- who may not even be ideal for a task -- steps in out of a misplaced feeling of responsibility and either 1) does a poor job; and/or 2) prevents someone else (who really would if given the chance) from working.

I see the latter in the church a great deal. One often sees a "one person per task" mentality because the placeholders -- even if not doing a particularly good job -- will not let anyone else touch their "area" and after a while people stop trying to help, and the job-holder basks in the luster of the self-fulfilling prophecy. (815 was for a time at its worst a model of this sort of behavior. The former defalcating treasurer, aside from the defalcation, was a master of this dysfunction, who almost singlehandedly dismantled what had been a reasonable system of job evaluation and replaced it with a meaningless form of self-aggrandizement. Which suited her ambitions to a tee.)

thomas bushnell, bsg said...

Thanks, now I get it! That's a real dynamic I'm certainly familiar with.

I think a great many problems of this sort, both for lay volunteers as well as for clergy, and all the many other categories, boil down to "ministry" which is done for the sake of the minister rather than the one ministered to.

There are a lot of clergy who believe the main reason to value lay ministry is because it makes the lay minister feel valuable and fulfilled. For example, it's usually regarded by clergy as mandatory that anyone who wants to read lessons is allowed to (maybe they have to attend a training), and it's regarded as a pleasant, but optional, addition if the lesson is read in an edifying manner.

So the reader's needs then take precedence over the hundred listeners. And the rector can always repeat the reading in the sermon if necessary. Thus aggrandizing to the rector a job that was someone else's, while defecting from the responsibility (supervision) that was the rector's.

And not only readers, of course. Liturgical ministry, singing, greeters, rectories, bishoprics, and all the rest...

Tobias Haller said...

... you got it...

One of the many things I like about Benedict's very sane Rule is that the one who serves as the "weekly reader" at the collation is not to be chosen from the whole community "in order" but is only to be chosen from among those "who edify their hearers." (RB 38)