Sometimes things go wrong that are completely out of one’s control. Sometimes things go right that are completely out of one’s control, and often we churchy types attribute the latter to God and the former to the human condition – or Satan, depending on your theological outlook.
Currently I am attending our biennial national meeting of Presbyterians, the General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) (not to be confused with any other kind of Presbyterian, of which there are many.) I’m here in my role as a Future Volunteer when I will be part of the leadership team providing hospitality to the General Assembly when they meet in Portland in 2016. This is what I’ve learned so far:
Sometimes things go wrong that are completely out of one’s control. That may be a God-thing; that may be a Satan-thing; that may be a human condition-thing; or it may just be because the wifi isn’t working.
Here’s something else I’ve learned so far: when something goes wrong that is completely beyond one’s control, how one responds to that is of the utmost importance. Freaking out is usually not helpful. Calm leadership is helpful. Sometimes singing is good, and sometimes quiet snarkis good. And most of the time, having someone who will offer a sympathetic ear, apologize, agree that the situation is messed up, and take a note and see if anything can be done is really the most helpful thing of all.
Several years ago when on a theater tour in college, one person in the troupe was the designated scapegoat for the tour. That meant that whenever something went wrong (and something went wrong at least once every day) it was that person’s fault. Everyone had someone to yell at, to point the finger at, to blame. And because that person knew that he or she was the scapegoat, he was able to take it. She apologized for the error, mishap, failure. He agreed that he should do a better job next time. She was terribly, terribly sorry. And then life went on until something else got messed up in some way.
I doubt anyone at this General Assembly wants to volunteer to be GA Scapegoat; in Judeo-Christian circles, being scapegoat usually gets you killed. So for now, for the the few GA attendees who read this blog, I’ll volunteer. Yesterday’s wifi overload? Totally my fault, and I do apologize. The need to use paper ballots for the moderator’s election? That one’s on me, too. I am sorry, and if you come by my booth in the Exhibition Hall and mention this blog, I will give you chocolate. That will fix things – for now.