I had some business to transact with a large corporation and, reverting to my dinosaur ways, chose to do it by telephone rather than on-line. While I had dealt with this business for several years, I had never created an electronic relationship with them, and doing so at this time—when I was dropping their service—seemed like more trouble than it was worth. So I called.
You know the drill. “Please listen carefully, for the options have changed.” So I listened. And pushed the correct button. Then that omnipresent female voice told me that my call was important to them, but “all agents are busy at this time.” Then she reassured me that my call should be answered in approximately four minutes. I listened to music. And commercials. Every now and then the lady would tell me that my call was important to them, but, unfortunately, “all the agents are busy at this time.” But do not despair! “Your call should be answered in approximately four minutes.”
Twenty minutes later my call was answered. The person who answered it informed me that this was not his department, but he would take down all my information and connect me immediately to the correct department. And then, yes, I was cast back out into that purgatory where all agents are busy, but your call should be answered in approximately four minutes, and never, ever forget, your call is important to us.
It took 25 minutes. And then the woman who answered really didn’t want to take my “no” for an answer, and came up with all manner of hare-brained schemes to hold on to me as a customer. When she gave in, it was in terms of “we will keep the $12 credit in your name so that when you come back to us, it will be there waiting for you.” Having reassured her that frozen precipitation would blanket the nether regions before I came back to them, I finally persuaded her to send the $12 back to my credit card.
They kept telling me that my call was important to them; but it sure didn’t seem like it! If my call was really important to you, you wouldn’t keep me on hold for 45 minutes. All I’m asking for is a little consistency between words and actions.
That’s the same thing folks are looking for from pastoral leaders. A consistency between words and actions. We’ve all heard the horror stories about the preachers and teachers so eager for you to know that God loves you they will beat that knowledge into you. If we say that people are important to us, we need to operate in such a way that it is clear to the people around us that we really mean it. If we’re talking about joy and hope, a little bit of that should be evident in our lives.
If we tell people that their calls are important to us, they should, that’s right, be treated like the call is important!