In my work as a pastor I have received calls for financial help. We call it benevolence. The churches I have worked for usually keep a benevolent fund so that we can help individuals or families in times of trouble. The money or gifts provided are never loans, they are simply sharing our abundance with people in their season of need. We are happy to do that for those who attend our church, or those who reach out to us from the community and ask for help.
As much as we want to help everyone who asks with whatever they request, that is not realistic. We have a set policy to guide our giving, both so we can keep our giving within government regulations for charitable organizations, as well as so we can be fair in our use of the resources our people entrust us to use to help the needy. Part of my role as pastor is to communicate those limitations to those who do make requests. In doing so they can understand why we are helping the way we do as well recognize the limitations we work with in dispersing this fund.
I share this as background to a situation where someone got very upset with me as I tried to explain how we could help them. In calling the church, they did not expect to hear a pastor talk about practicalities. In their mind, the pastor is a person who hears their need and seeks to meet it. I obviously was not meeting this person’s expectations. Rather than listen to what I had to say, this person angrily complained that I must not be a pastor, because I was not talking like a pastor. I replied that I truly was the pastor, and that I was speaking like a pastor, just not the way she expected a pastor to speak. That call did not end well, sorry to say.
What happens when you say what others don’t expect? They may say things like:
- “That’s not what my last professor said….he told me I was exceptional. How can you say I need to work on that?”
- “I thought you were going to give me a raise after all the hard work I’ve been doing for you….you don’t even notice what I do, do you? Instead you are cutting my hours…what’s with that? Can’t you see I’m your best worker?”
- “Hey, Simon Cowell, how dare you question my singing ability…I’ll show you, I’ll win this whole competition…I’ll be a star, I’ll show you!”
We have no control over what others expect us to say. And they have no control over what they want us to say. Do not be surprised when people don’t like what you have said. You simply have said what they did not expect.
That’s the time to ask them why they expected you to say that.
© Brian F. Reynolds BFRspace 2014
“What do you expect? The question you need to ask!” is now available in paperback for $20 (Can) from Scarlet Cord Press (www.scarletcordpress.com).