Wednesday, July 09, 2008

Paying Attention to the Wrong Things

We all do this.

No matter how attentive we may be, we miss many big things.

Praying this morning, I realized I passed up the chance to meet a new group of people because I felt overwhelmed with tasks and didn't have a face shot photo. Only today, weeks after the invitation and my rejection of the offer, did I realize what I'd done.

A colleague here in the Disaster Area got a blistering letter from a pastor. The pastor came down to put on a VBS for a church a few weeks ago. The visiting pastor believed that the church should be grateful, empty rooms for the VBS, provide particular housing, and have the colleague be present often. What she didn't realize is that my colleague serves a devastated congregation and his work is with them, not the visiting mission team. The mission team pastor paid attention to her team, her idea of a gift, her sense of how things should be done. Rather than realizing her needs were driving the week, she blamed the colleague. Wrong things.

The reality of living and doing ministry down here is this: if you come (and God knows we are grateful and need the help) come self-sustaining and handle your own stuff. The pastors and congregations are busy, exhausted and need to pay attention to their work, not your idea of the mission trip.

A child behaves in a way we don't understand. We grab the first idea we have for coping. Parenting involves pivoting to grasp what is needed for the child. I've learned this over and over with the Casseroles. Attention to the right things helps.

A church member blasts the pastor. What is going on? Could it be the member needs your attention? Is the member worried, anxious, losing hope for his future?


I'm not sure I'll ever get great at paying attention to the right things. I work on seeing and listening. I pray and listen.


St. Casserole

11 comments:

Mark Smith said...

It's also possible that the member is upset with the pastor for exactly what they blasted him/her about.

Chris said...

I'm sorry to hear that. I was in your area last year on a mission trip and it never occurred to us to be pampered. We were there to help, which included sponsoring a VBS and building an outdoor play gym.

Gracebythesea said...

Praying that the hurt and the disappointment and self serving agendas get smoothed over and replaced by more supportive, helpful, attentive folks near and far.

Now darlin'... get yo sweet self a diet coke, take a dip on the pool and call it a day. I've got the Texas Towcar of Justice on the other line....
XO

St. Casserole said...

Hey Mark! The clergy I run with are careful, thoughtful people. They expect people to disagree. Conflict comes with the territory. What they don't enjoy is "anger for entertainment".

Very few people are helped by being "blasted".

Songbird said...

I appreciate the things you see and the way you write about them.

Terminal Degree said...

So often we are distracted by the wrong things. I'm trying to learn to ask myself, "What am I really upset about right now?" Sometimes it isn't what I think it is.

Ruby said...

Sing it, sister. This was great reminder.

ElastiGirl said...

thank you for writing so thoughtfully - you are a blessing...

Presbyterian Gal said...

Practice makes perfect, darlin'. You're so honest about the process, you help us all in our own practice.

Mark Smith said...

Sorry.

There are some pastors who need blasting in order to listen. There are others who are oversensitive to criticism.

I don't believe that you are either.

The Simpleton said...

Goodness. Lord, help me to pay attention to the right things, and make the wrong things the size of ants on my sidewalk. Amen.