Business as Usual

29 May

be still 001

Time out! Just what are you supposed to be doing?

It is entirely too easy, on a job or in a ministry, to fall into a routine, the kind of routine that dims us to the purpose of what we are about, the kind that becomes our “gospel” of how things are done.

The people we serve can become somewhat of a “bother” when their presence or attitude seems to violate our space or way of doing things.

Pope Francis calls this “making a sacrament of pastoral concerns” (cf. “Don’t Create Sacrament of ‘Pastoral Concerns,’” National Catholic Register blog, May 28, 2013).

I think this is a great take on a cumbersome, ineffective bureaucracy – a sin of which, justly or unjustly, some parishes and dioceses are sometimes accused.

But parish and diocesan leaders and staffs are made up of people. Whether they will form a vibrant and fruitful Christian ministry or a cumbersome bureaucracy depends entirely on them – on their mutual faith, common vision and purpose, reverent relationships and working conditions.

Since age 25, I have been in fulltime work in the Church – the last 14 years of which as an unsalaried retired Catholic journalist and a permanent deacon ordained in 1986.

So, I have seen vibrant ministries and convincing evidence of bureaucratic tendencies in parishes and dioceses.

Here are some factors which can depersonalize and cripple any ministry:

A spiritually bankrupt leadership and/or staff;

Cold and impersonal leadership or leaders who seek adulation rather than respect;

Unclear divisions of responsibility and authority;

Leadership’s unreal expectations of personnel; the inability to form and train personnel properly and to create  complementary job descriptions;

Employees and volunteers who don’t buy into the mission of the parish or diocese; employees who are only interested in their paychecks; abuse of sick leave;

Leadership shows no appreciation for the skills and work of employees;

Hiring the wrong people; leadership too weak to terminate when termination is the only answer, and;

A budget too small for the job – making good pay impossible.

I’ve seen them all and, at one time or another in my forty years of leadership, guilty of some of them.

When you have a bureaucracy instead of a ministry, it’s business as usual and people tend to be regarded as a nuisance rather than someone to love and serve.

Thanks, Pope Francis!





2 Responses to “Business as Usual”

  1. May 31, 2013 at 12:04 am #

    I still say that one of the greatest miracles is that the church has lasted 2000 years with humans involved. Dick

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