Assumptions will kill you!
My friend was right! Be careful about assumptions.
1. Don’t assume I understand what you haven’t explained clearly. So often we assume that someone coming into our system (church, school, university, workplace) knows exactly what to do. So it is Sunday morning and everyone is talking about the great dinner that took place at the church building on Friday evening. You are not sure what they are talking about. You are puzzled. After all, no one mentioned this last Sunday morning. Finally someone says “Oh yes, we do this every year. This is our annual going back to school dinner. No one says much about it. Everyone knows all about it.”
2. Don’t assume your adult son or daughter knows that you are “well pleased.” Many, many fathers and mothers of grown children stop saying “I love you” to their children. Still others never tell them just how pleased they are with their lives. At times parents get defensive and say, “Aww. My kids know I love them. They know I am proud of them.” Yet, there are many adult children who are starved for a word of sincere affirmation from their parents.
3. Don’t assume that people in your church understand why you do what you do. Likewise, don’t assume they know why you believe what you believe. In the latter years of my ministry in Waco, I really gave this one some thought and was more conscious of explaining why I believed what I believed. Today, one of my daughters made me aware of the importance of this as she watched a visitor in her church try to figure how what he was supposed to do in their assembly during the Lord’s Supper.
4. Don’t assume your minister is doing ok financially. When a church is looking for a minister, there will typically be a talk about financial compensation as a part of the process. If a minister is going to serve at that particular congregation, that person will have to come to some agreement on salary, benefits, etc. Ideally, both the church and minister feel good about this compensation. Unfortunately, this may be a rare moment for that minister and for those elders. A conversation like this may never take place again between this ministers and these elders. Many ministers have served churches for years without an elder ever inquiring about their finances. This should actually be a part of what it means to shepherd that minister. A wonderful pastoral gesture on the part of elders would be to ask their minister:
- Are you ok financially?
- Do you think the compensation is adequate and fair?
- Are you able to go about your work without always being preoccupied with your financial situation?
Often, instead of questions which invite response, everyone remains silent. Ministers know that it can be very unwise to bring this up lest they be misunderstood. Instead of assuming these are ok, elders need to occasionally ask.