Dodging Bullets: Untrustworthy Eunice
Eunice is a youth worker from the west coast who has been at her current church about four years. Eunice started out well in her ministry mostly because she was wise enough to keep the programs that were going before she got there going the way they were. Eunice normally doesn’t ruffle feathers and is pleasant. Her teens like her and her teens’ parents were crazy about her.
Eunice had lots on her plate and worked to please everyone. The church was very fond of her as she seemed to have a positive work ethic and was there for the teens. Eunice began getting overwhelmed with the responsibilities she had as the youth leader. While she played a good game of catch up, she often left out details and left the parents of her teens hanging in the wind until she could organize enough to solidify plans.
Eunice’s last minute planning of a big event made parents grow more anxious. They were not in the loop about it until flyers hit their inboxes a few days before the all-nighter. Eunice then texted some parents one time to arrive and emailed some other parents a different starting time. Chaos ensued the night of the all-nighter as parents both did not know for sure what time to drop off their teens and pick them back up. Volunteer youth workers also grew frustrated at the lack of planning and input to the extent that volunteers Sherri and Kami didn’t show up making staffing for the event rather sparse.
This fiasco was just one occurrence in a series of poorly planned events. Parents began to doubt Eunice and her trustworthiness. Eunice’s last minute planning pitted the youth group calendar against family vacations and put parents between their kids and Eunice’s ministry, creating a harsh situation for parents to cope. Eunice started to be seen as untrustworthy by the parents. Eunice tried to compensate for this by publishing calendars in advance, but often changed details in the week leading up to the event making it hard for families to even trust the calendars she put out.
Additionally, Eunice started making excuses for when plans fell through. She would blame her email for not working, or having to wait on Administrative Assistant Matty to get her details for being late in submitting a calendar. Eunice also threw volunteers under the bus when she could to deflect blame and attention away from herself. Needless to say, this did not go over well with her volunteer team. Eunice’s excuses started to become renowned which also added to her untrustworthiness.
‘My plan will be realized,
I will accomplish what I desire,’
who summons an eagle from the east,
from a distant land, one who carries out my plan.
Yes, I have decreed,
yes, I will bring it to pass;
I have formulated a plan,
yes, I will carry it out.
Eunice’s leadership had to remove Eunice because the parents of her teens lost faith in her ability to lead and run the youth ministry on her own. While everyone loved her, she just couldn’t run a ministry without violating the trust of the parents.
Questions for Reflection:
– What are some ways that Eunice violated trust?
– What are other ways that you can violate the trust you have with your parents and the leaders of your church?
– How can you avoid breaking trust with your parents, students and leadership?
There are many ways to lose the trust of your parents, your leadership and your students. Consider what God says in Isaiah 46:11 “I have formulated a plan … I will carry it out.” Along with planning comes consulting with these three groups to see the wisdom in your plan. Listen to them so what you plan can be accomplished, and can be accomplished well.
– Trust is built best through communication. Work to communicate with those that need the information in ways that they can easily access and digest the information.
– Copy your leadership on this information so they know what is going on and they can help if someone falsely accuses you of not communicating something well. (Or hold you accountable if you mess up.)
– Own what you mess up, and work to restore relationships personally and seek to minimize your mistakes from repeating.
– If you are the chief leader, the buck stops with you. Work hard to build trust and put trustworthy people in those positions you need to rely on. When you come across an error, lead the charge to fix it while minimizing the need to place blame.
– Don’t fake it if you don’t have it. Get a mentor to help you if you have weaknesses in event planning, organization, or any other area of ministry. If you are open and working on a challenging aspect of your professional self, your leadership will (normally) respect that and work with you.