A mother went to wake her son and tell him it was time to get ready for church. He said, "I'm not going." "Why not?" she asked. “Two reasons," he said. “One, nobody likes me, and two, I don't like them." His mother replied, “Well, I'll give you two reasons why you should go to church. One, you’re 55 years old so stop being so immature, and two, you're the vicar!”
Yes, it is an old joke, but coming up with something new at this time of year isn’t easy.
Advent and Christmas bring pressure, not only to the bank balances of consumers but to all those in ministry. Among these pressures is the need to do everything ‘correct’. Christmas brings with it more traditions than the rest of the church year altogether. And, as the minister is often the figurehead, if not the person in charge, the danger of getting something ‘wrong’ means the buck stops with you.
You’ll be the first to know and receive the ‘friendly’ advice that things aren’t going well, or are being done in a way that strays from the norm. The phrase ‘we’ve always done it this way’ can arrive before Santa at this festive period. Unfortunately, it is one small step from ‘we’ve always done it this way’ to a complaint, and what seemed like an innocuous issue can become something more serious.
Three things that might help nip a complaint in the bud
1 Give yourself breathing space.
If confronted, don’t respond ‘off the cuff’. A quick emotional response can be experienced as dismissive. You also need time for yourself not to be coerced or pressured into an action. Agreeing to think about what has been said and making a time for further discussion may help defuse the situation.
2 Talk to a friend
Would it help to let off steam or sadness outside the situation so you can come back to it fresh? Is there a trusted friend or colleague you can pick up the phone or have a coffee with?
3 Mobilise the Hub community
Inside the Hub, you can share your situation, ask for support and find plenty of advice from others in similar situations - all in a safe space. Being a vicar or pastor can often leave you feeling alone and isolated, but the Hub is full of others just like you.
These simple tips have come from recent conversations in the Hub, a safe and secure online community where those in ministry can share with, support and sustain one another.
If you are involved in ministry you can join The Hub, it is free and is a safe environment to ask for advice and support on the pressures of ministry including complaints about you. As a Hub member (log in before you click link), you'll find a growing bank of resources all related to doing healthy ministry together. Including handling situations that bring less than seasonal cheer.
Christmas should be a time of celebration, but at the Hub, we get that it can be so much more. We also know that Christmas is just one part of the ministry, and at the Hub, you’ll find help and community for so much more too.
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Learn about Project CDM, a Hub collaboration project to restore humanity to clergy discipline.
restoring humanity to clergy discipline