Friday, 6 June 2008

Emotional roots of bad ministry

The way things work out for good or for bad is as about far more than the quality of the people we recruit. Quality of work is a matter of attitude and feelings as much as capacity. People perform very differently according to context. With a very complex, subtle and personal job, people who fall below par are often unhappy. One enemy of high performance is the puritanical “you’re not here to enjoy yourselves” flog-it kind of mentality some people have about their ministry. It leads them to ignore feedback and reinforces emotional unintelligence about themselves and everybody else. It doesn’t mean vicars have to be happy all the time. Some people can only write poetry if they’re unhappy. It’s the not being aware of emotions, theirs and other people’s, that’s a bigger problem than any particular emotional state. Self awareness is a big requirement of this job.

When things do go wrong, the Bloody Fool theory is never enough. It seems to explain everything; in fact it explains nothing that really matters. It’s all very well pointing out people’s faults to them. But from where are they going to get the energy to act differently in future? Without considering that, at least as carefully as the simple story of what’s gone wrong, nothing is going improve. Blame cultures can actually cause the underperformance of which they complain. Kicking-the-cat behaviour of all kinds is actually a vile but understandable cry for help; whether the cat is the vicar or the congregation.

And when things have gone wrong, people are fantastically adaptive if they have the spiritual rootedness, motivation, capacity to receive feedback and self knowledge to be. If, however they’re out of touch with their own sources of spiritual and personal energy, the wheels are far more likely to come off the wagon.
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