Tuesday, October 12, 2010

On Doing Nothing

You have possibly heard about the research scientist who was investigating faith. When his wife gave birth to twins he had one baptised and kept the other as control.

I often wonder how well my ministry would go if I literally 'let go and let God' - a mantra from the renewal movement of the 1980s. Other ministers can try and grow their congregations by hard work and I will keep mine as control.

It has its attraction. Doing nothing except reading and praying is one of my favourite occupations. I found it annoying that for a while I had a reputation as being someone who could get a lot done. I also played along with it because everyone likes to be praised. I may have calmed down a bit now and seek as many ways as possible to be an enabler and facilitator. These are, of course, posh terms for getting other people to do the work.

Finding grand terms for things is the way forward for the 'hands off' ministry I seek. If asked my opinion on a matter over which I really have no opinion it is often simply a matter that a decision, any decision, is needed before we can move on. What size should this handout be? What colour might we paint this wall? With which of these two songs should we finish? Once upon a day I would help by making a choice. I now find that there are many other fine ways to promote others doing the thinking and the work:

Profound ambivalence (I really, really don't care)
Expectant hesitation (Ask me tomorrow)
Contemplative inertia (Let me think about it)
Collaborative non-intervention (What do you think we should do?)

Don't worry. I've just had a lovely holiday. I never return from holidays with an enthusiasm for work. I prefer to look for ways to feel like I'm still on vacation. I guess I'll eventually find something to do, beginning with lunch for ten so must dash. Laters.


Charlie said...

Brilliant! I practice all of these (not always conciously). I would also add "affirmative inaction". This is an old Irish tactic which involves saying "yes, I'll do it" and then doing nothing.

Anonymous said...

Charlie - people saying yes and then not doing it drives me round the the bend. Just say no.

Archdruid Eileen said...

If you baptise one and not the other, how do you know which is the control?

Charlie said...

Pauline - you're right, I'll do exactly that right away.
(ps. ask me again tomorrow, can you?)

St said...

Eileen, if you know of any ministers expecting triplets let me know.