Mom to the Left has me thinking about this phenomenon. It seems that when one volunteers (or accepts a request) to do work in our churches, one is also tacitly agreeing to the following:
I, the undersigned, do hereby offer myself as a willing servant to those who wish to argue, berate, and criticize the work that I do on my own time, and for no pay. I expect no gratitude and am willing to accept being treated as if this volunteer labor is something I owe to the organization. Anyone may feel welcome to second-guess my methods, motives, and choices.
What is this?
I will admit that some of my vehemence comes from personal experience. After completing a huge undertaking, I watched as the two people who "directed" my efforts accepted accolades, not bothering to mention the drone who actually did the work. Hey, that happens. When I finally said "okay, I'm done," was when I received a boo-boo-oops email from one of the directors.
Going off on a tangent, but I've seen this done so many times, and create so many problems, let me define the boo-boo-oops email:
- Person A and Person B email back and forth about a particular issue, never deleting their responses at the bottom of the emails.
- Responding to one of the emails in the long "reply, reply, reply" email (that now contains about 4 or 5 back and forth email messages), Person B forwards the entire thing to Person C, without deleting any of the earlier messages.
- Person C gets the message meant for herself ... and reads the entire email. In one of the previous emails at the bottom, Person A and/or B said something disparaging about Person C.
Boo-Boo-Oops Email ... the power to break up friendships, marriages, and volunteers' spirits.
So, it was after that when I said, "Okay, I can't do this anymore. You've got 4 months to find someone else."
(In hindsight, in this particular situation, I would handle it differently now. I had a terrific opportunity to educate some folks about -- if nothing else -- email etiquette. But I, like so many, simply tendered my volunteer resignation. How often has that happened in our churches or districts, and we never knew why?)
There has to be a way to share legitimate criticism ("Mary, I really appreciate your willingness to repaint the fellowship hall. However, we've had a few concerns over the choice of neon-hot-pink with red trim.") without resorting to snarkiness, condescension, anti-authoritarianism ...
Hmm. Maybe we could start with gentle politeness. And gratitude. Appreciation. Even if the fellowship hall makes our eyes bleed, and even if it has to be repainted, it still took Painter Mary a full day to paint it. A day which she gave to try and improve things.