The Indifference Cycle

Public forum for those seeking support for their experience in the LDS Church.
User avatar
SilentDawning
Posts: 7229
Joined: 09 May 2010, 19:55

The Indifference Cycle

Post by SilentDawning » 14 Feb 2019, 00:48

[TL;Dr] [means too long, didn't read -- here is the short version] Not getting support from local leaders on minimal info needed to do my calling. Discussion and possible solutions.

So, some of you know that I have issues with a few things in the church.

One is the high standards of behavior required of members to be in good standing, contrasted with mostly mediocre programs and low commitment from the majority of the members in the wards in which I have served.

Yes, there are highly committed people, and highly committed Wards, but the majority in which I have lived are not that way. I know that blunt statements like sentence #2 above are not normally considered balanced or professional, but I am being honest in my experience and feelings. They do represent my lived experience.

I have learned, over the years, to reduce my expectations to almost nothing, while simultaneously reducing my own commitment accordingly. It's easier for me to be a low-commitment member in a low-commitment environment than it is to be a high commitment member in a low commitment environment. It's been a key aspect of staying LDS for me.

As evidence I was mastering mediocrity, I literally forgot to do one of my teacher council's recently (unintentional). No one noticed except a Bishopric member who asked if it was in a particular room on the day it should be held. I just said I forgot and that was no problem. No one else mentioned it, not the SS President, not the other leaders who presumably direct it through the Ward council, none of the teachers. None of the teachers were asking me about it, as there had been no communication to anyone about it.

I got on it the next week to promote the next scheduled council, two weeks later, but found LDS.org wasn't up to date and I didn't know who the teachers were any more -- much had changed.

The SS President never answers me when I write to him about such things. I scheduled the council dates directly with the Bishop since the SS president didn't answer any of the questions I had about it, or respond to the proposed dates. SS President was also addressed on the email but didn't answer. Bishop answered and agreed to dates.

So, this time, in order to promote the next scheduled council effectively, I wrote to the Bishop's counselor over SS and also addressed the SS President asking about who the teachers were. No one answered. At church, I hunted down the Bishop's counselor since the SS President wasn't present. I asked who the teachers are at this time. The Bp's counselor was more concerned that I wasn't following the chain of command and asking the SS President that question. I indicated he wasn't there that Sunday, and it was just a routine question. Also indicated the SS President never answers me. Councilor indicated he'd been busy the last couple weeks (SS President) so maybe that's why. I said he never answers me, not for the last year. After some cat and mouse on why I was even asking the Bpric member who the teachers were, he finally told me who all the teachers are.

As I spoke to the Bishop's Councilor I had a flashback, at one point, when I was on a camping trip with a long-time camper and former boy scout. We built a fire and I mentioned that perhaps he had placed the wood incorrectly. This camper (an adult my age, and a good friend) said "You're telling ME how to light a fire??". He wasn't angry about it, but it was a good way of reminding me he wasn't a beginner and perhaps I was out of line.

As a Ph.D. holder in business management, teacher of business management of a quarter century full time, with multiple Master's degrees in those areas, I felt like saying "You're telling ME, how to follow a simple chain of command??". It wasn't an arrogant thought, although I guess it sounds a bit like it. It was just the thought that struck me as very odd given my background, of which this Bishop's Counselor knows. Kind of like how you might feel if someone starting telling you what the various controls on your personal automobile do -- something you take for granted.

Of course all these textbook chains of commands and policies are ideals in non-profits. But when people don't function, or you have limited resources, OF COURSE lines of authority are sometimes not followed. Ward clerks' start organizing home teaching blitz' and all kinds of other anomalies -- I have seen them many times before. Sometimes you just have to do what is necessary to get the job done. And this means working with whoever is willing or available. I guess I felt a little flabbergasted this councilor felt he had to school me in the chain of command when he must know the SS President's commitment is weak since he's over that area.

Here is the frustration here -- one, putting the chain of command ahead of answering my questions on such a small issue of this. And the biggest one -- the way members and leaders are so nice and accommodating to people they think they might reactivate. But when they think they have your commitment, you get indifference, lack of support, and in this case, stymying my efforts, at first, to get the names of the teachers so I can do my calling due to "process". A calling which, apparently, isn't something anyone really cares about happening anyway, based on how no one but this councilor seemed to notice when I forgot to hold it.

When we returned to our Ward after attending a different one for a few years due to my daughter's bullying, everyone was so nice. They would announce the teacher's council over the pulpit in sacrament to help me promote it. They chatted us up. That stopped. All the leaders were so appreciative of the councils and the effort I put into it. That dried up after they saw I was into it for a couple months in a row. The Bishop at the time would pay the piano player in my jazz band a low rate to perform at ward socials and the rest of us Mormon musicians would play for free. The new Bishop, who I've known for years, refuses that. I normally don't go to the socials anymore as I find them boring otherwise. If I'm doing something meaningful, fine.

Anyway, how easily we take our people for granted after we think we have their commitment. How easily we revert to the ideal process even when our leaders don't function properly.

It left a bad taste in my mouth...not a big deal, I guess, but an impression I felt like sharing.

I am still doing the council and promoted it to all the teachers. Otherwise, it wouldn't happen. After it's over, I'll recede back into the background.
Last edited by SilentDawning on 15 Feb 2019, 17:16, edited 4 times in total.
"It doesn't have to be about the Church (church) all the time!" -- SD

"The individual has always had to struggle to keep from being overwhelmed by the tribe. No price is too high to pay for the privilege of owning yourself."

A man asked Jesus "do all roads lead to you?" Jesus responds,”most roads don’t lead anywhere, but I will travel any road to find you.” Adapted from The Shack, William Young

Roy
Posts: 5779
Joined: 07 Oct 2010, 14:16
Location: Pacific Northwest

Re: And the cycle repeats itself

Post by Roy » 14 Feb 2019, 10:05

My wife is very organized. She and I serve as co-bear den leaders. She sends out a monthly email to the parents of our bear den to let them know upcoming dates and projects.

Our cub master is basically incompetant. He is a nice guy but he just does not have the skills to be in a leadership position.

As an aside, It seems to me that the dependable leaders in the cub scout program keep getting poached for ward leadership. The cub scout program is shared by 3 wards. If you have a dependable and competant individual it is only natural that you might tap that person to do some of the heavy lifting in your ward and expect the other two wards to pick up the slack in cub scouts. But nobody really does pick up the slack and it is contant disfunction. I really wish we would get women called to these positions (cub master, cub scout leaders) given the high demand for competent males in our church but nobody asks me.

Anyway, back to my main point, my wife will sometimes get calls, texts, or emails from parents of kids that are not in our bear den asking about scout activities. Has scouts been cancelled due to wheather? When and where is the next pack meeting.

This puts DW in a difficult position. She does not want to be everyone's point of contact for information for 2 main reasons 1) The cub scout program is aweful and she does not want to be the face of a program that she has no control over. 2) Sometimes there are last minute changes or even contradictory messages being sent. She does not want to be responsible for giving people the wrong information.

Long story short, sometimes an individual may redirect a person back to the rather disfunctional chain of command because as frustrating as working through the chain of command may be - once a "work around" becomes established the less competant individuals shirk more and more of the work load until they basically do nothing.
"It is not so much the pain and suffering of life which crushes the individual as it is its meaninglessness and hopelessness." C. A. Elwood

“It is not the function of religion to answer all the questions about God’s moral government of the universe, but to give one courage, through faith, to go on in the face of questions he never finds the answer to in his present status.” TPC: Harold B. Lee 223

"I struggle now with establishing my faith that God may always be there, but may not always need to intervene" Heber13

User avatar
SilentDawning
Posts: 7229
Joined: 09 May 2010, 19:55

Re: And the cycle repeats itself

Post by SilentDawning » 14 Feb 2019, 11:34

Roy wrote:
14 Feb 2019, 10:05
Long story short, sometimes an individual may redirect a person back to the rather disfunctional chain of command because as frustrating as working through the chain of command may be - once a "work around" becomes established the less competant individuals shirk more and more of the work load until they basically do nothing.
That might have been his motivation, but I didn't take it that way. Thankful for the alternate perspective though. I'd rather he just gave me what I wanted since I'd been floundering in my calling somewhat recently anyway. And I've never asked him for anything else except on this issue.

Creating obstacles over a simple thing like that when we were face to face at church seemed a bit extreme and unwelcome.

And then, there is the valuation (by leaders), accommodation (by leaders), indifference (by leaders) and then less activity (by members) cycle at play. Had I been only coming out of less activity he probably would have fallen over himself to give me the names.
"It doesn't have to be about the Church (church) all the time!" -- SD

"The individual has always had to struggle to keep from being overwhelmed by the tribe. No price is too high to pay for the privilege of owning yourself."

A man asked Jesus "do all roads lead to you?" Jesus responds,”most roads don’t lead anywhere, but I will travel any road to find you.” Adapted from The Shack, William Young

Roy
Posts: 5779
Joined: 07 Oct 2010, 14:16
Location: Pacific Northwest

Re: And the cycle repeats itself

Post by Roy » 14 Feb 2019, 12:21

SilentDawning wrote:
14 Feb 2019, 11:34
And then, there is the valuation (by leaders), accommodation (by leaders), indifference (by leaders) and then less activity (by members) cycle at play. Had I been only coming out of less activity he probably would have fallen over himself to give me the names.
No disagreement there.

I feel that I have been reasonably successful in walking the line. I am close enough to the exit that leaders are glad for my continued participation.

My son with mild autism was ordained as a deacon last month. I have taken him early to church the last 3 weeks to review and practice the plan for passing the sacrament. The YM leader sent me a text thanking me for being supportive. It felt a little odd being thanked for helping my own kid but it is the thought that counts and I will take all the good will I can get.
"It is not so much the pain and suffering of life which crushes the individual as it is its meaninglessness and hopelessness." C. A. Elwood

“It is not the function of religion to answer all the questions about God’s moral government of the universe, but to give one courage, through faith, to go on in the face of questions he never finds the answer to in his present status.” TPC: Harold B. Lee 223

"I struggle now with establishing my faith that God may always be there, but may not always need to intervene" Heber13

nibbler
Posts: 4151
Joined: 14 Nov 2013, 07:34
Location: Ten miles west of the exact centre of the universe

Re: And the cycle repeats itself

Post by nibbler » 14 Feb 2019, 16:31

SilentDawning wrote:
14 Feb 2019, 00:48
At church, I hunted down the Bishop's councilor since the SS President wasn't present. I asked who the teachers are at this time. The Bp's councilor was more concerned that I wasn't following the chain of command and asking the SS President that question.
That right there is weird. Very strange. Chain of command? If we're caring about chains of commands at church we're starting to lose our way. If we have to cite chain of command to answer simple questions at church we're starting to lose our way.

FWIW when I go to my ward's online directory I can see who all the teachers are under Ward Leaders > Sunday School.

User avatar
SilentDawning
Posts: 7229
Joined: 09 May 2010, 19:55

Re: And the cycle repeats itself

Post by SilentDawning » 14 Feb 2019, 23:16

nibbler wrote:
14 Feb 2019, 16:31
SilentDawning wrote:
14 Feb 2019, 00:48
At church, I hunted down the Bishop's councilor since the SS President wasn't present. I asked who the teachers are at this time. The Bp's councilor was more concerned that I wasn't following the chain of command and asking the SS President that question.
That right there is weird. Very strange. Chain of command? If we're caring about chains of commands at church we're starting to lose our way. If we have to cite chain of command to answer simple questions at church we're starting to lose our way.

FWIW when I go to my ward's online directory I can see who all the teachers are under Ward Leaders > Sunday School.
It didn't appear to be up to date. So, asking the counselor was my last resort since the SS President doesn't answer me.
Last edited by SilentDawning on 14 Feb 2019, 23:21, edited 1 time in total.
"It doesn't have to be about the Church (church) all the time!" -- SD

"The individual has always had to struggle to keep from being overwhelmed by the tribe. No price is too high to pay for the privilege of owning yourself."

A man asked Jesus "do all roads lead to you?" Jesus responds,”most roads don’t lead anywhere, but I will travel any road to find you.” Adapted from The Shack, William Young

User avatar
SilentDawning
Posts: 7229
Joined: 09 May 2010, 19:55

Re: And the cycle repeats itself

Post by SilentDawning » 14 Feb 2019, 23:19

Roy wrote:
14 Feb 2019, 12:21
SilentDawning wrote:
14 Feb 2019, 11:34
And then, there is the valuation (by leaders), accommodation (by leaders), indifference (by leaders) and then less activity (by members) cycle at play. Had I been only coming out of less activity he probably would have fallen over himself to give me the names.
No disagreement there.

I feel that I have been reasonably successful in walking the line. I am close enough to the exit that leaders are glad for my continued participation.

My son with mild autism was ordained as a deacon last month. I have taken him early to church the last 3 weeks to review and practice the plan for passing the sacrament. The YM leader sent me a text thanking me for being supportive. It felt a little odd being thanked for helping my own kid but it is the thought that counts and I will take all the good will I can get.
Isn't it strange that in order to get kindness, appreciation and support, you have to be on the fringes? Shouldn't these things be part of any leadership arsenal? And when commitment is shown by highly committed people, shouldn't we be DEEPLY appreciated given how rare and important such commitment is to the success of our wards?

And its not like the people leading us aren't experienced or talented enough in these ways sometimes either. And they do undergo training. My SS president is a lawyer, former EQ president for a long time. Bishop was a manager until retirement.

Anyway, just a little fed up with it all right now. I feel darned frustrated with how hard it is to serve in our church. So glad they don't have my commitment anymore. They don't deserve it.

Gonna plough ahead though. I see this low stress, once in a while calling as the best thing for me now, and I don't want to "do nothing".
"It doesn't have to be about the Church (church) all the time!" -- SD

"The individual has always had to struggle to keep from being overwhelmed by the tribe. No price is too high to pay for the privilege of owning yourself."

A man asked Jesus "do all roads lead to you?" Jesus responds,”most roads don’t lead anywhere, but I will travel any road to find you.” Adapted from The Shack, William Young

User avatar
SilentDawning
Posts: 7229
Joined: 09 May 2010, 19:55

Re: And the cycle repeats itself

Post by SilentDawning » 14 Feb 2019, 23:44

For everyone's visuals.

To make this more positive, I guess the way to cope is to simply continue embracing mediocrity as your highest expectation from leaders. Throw out expectatons for even basic leadership theory and principles, and do your best. Basic leadership theory meaning that the leaders support initiatives consistent with their mission and annual planning.

Another strategy is to stay as close to the fringe as possible so at least you keep the leaders in the accommodation phase of the cycle. But I find that a bit manipulative. I guess I have shown too much commitment, to the point they are indifferent.
The Indifference Cycle.PNG
The Indifference Cycle.PNG (37.56 KiB) Viewed 496 times
Last edited by SilentDawning on 15 Feb 2019, 09:45, edited 1 time in total.
"It doesn't have to be about the Church (church) all the time!" -- SD

"The individual has always had to struggle to keep from being overwhelmed by the tribe. No price is too high to pay for the privilege of owning yourself."

A man asked Jesus "do all roads lead to you?" Jesus responds,”most roads don’t lead anywhere, but I will travel any road to find you.” Adapted from The Shack, William Young

User avatar
dande48
Posts: 1443
Joined: 24 Jan 2016, 16:35
Location: Wherever there is danger

Re: And the cycle repeats itself

Post by dande48 » 15 Feb 2019, 07:40

... So to sum up: We tend to pay much more attention to things we view as being urgent, off, wrong, or deviating from the status quo. And we tend to overlook or take for granted things which seem normal, consistent, and in-line with the status quo.

This sounds like a human nature thing, rather than a Church issue. And I'm not even sure it's something we should correct. There's only so much we can focus on, and giving our attention to one thing, takes it away from another. It makes sense to focus on the "troublesome" areas. But the unfortunate result, is that it's often hard to get the attention of others without becoming a "troublesome area" yourself. I reminded me of the parable of the prodigal son. Bringing back the prodigal son lead to celebration. But it also made the faithful son feel under appreciated and left out.
"The whole world is a comedy to those that think, a tragedy to those that feel." - Horace Walpole

"Even though there are no ways of knowing for sure, there are ways of knowing for pretty sure."
-Lemony Snicket

User avatar
SilentDawning
Posts: 7229
Joined: 09 May 2010, 19:55

Re: And the cycle repeats itself

Post by SilentDawning » 15 Feb 2019, 09:37

dande48 wrote:
15 Feb 2019, 07:40
... So to sum up: We tend to pay much more attention to things we view as being urgent, off, wrong, or deviating from the status quo. And we tend to overlook or take for granted things which seem normal, consistent, and in-line with the status quo.

This sounds like a human nature thing, rather than a Church issue. And I'm not even sure it's something we should correct. There's only so much we can focus on, and giving our attention to one thing, takes it away from another. It makes sense to focus on the "troublesome" areas. But the unfortunate result, is that it's often hard to get the attention of others without becoming a "troublesome area" yourself. I reminded me of the parable of the prodigal son. Bringing back the prodigal son lead to celebration. But it also made the faithful son feel under appreciated and left out.
I actually disagree -- passionately, with the part in bold. First, it's easier to keep committed people than to reel them back in again after they leave. Second, having GOOD PROGRAMS is what I believe keeps people and attracts them to the church. No one wants to feel they are part of a losing team. They want to work with others who are reliable, do a good job, etcetera. The resulting culture of excellence feeds off itself. That is why everyone wants to work for Apple, Google, Proctor & Gamble and other high performing organizations. Third, focusing on the people who are walking out the door is draining and hard on the committed membership. Strengthening the committed is easier and more rewarding, with clear benefits and commitment continuing from the members being supported. Fourth, good programs, well executed with the people who implement them supported, creates a great experience for new members and people who come out of less activity. Something we have an obligation to deliver if we truly are the only true church on the face of the earth.

What you are focusing on is leadership by exception and the urgency addiction (focusing on urgent items rather than long-term issues that are not currently urgent, but which build a strong organization).

In my situation, I'm well-educated, work hard, have skills to share borne from 25 years of full time teaching experience both in and out of the church, professionally. I can speak, develop materials, have drive to promote and can deliver a quality experience for the teacher's council. My councils are highly regarded by really good people in the church -- when I hold them. I may not be good at a lot of things in life, but at least this area is my life's work, so I HAVE to possess something of value.

And yet, their behavior alienates me due to sheer mediocrity and lack of support.

And it's not the first time. I have seen this over and over and over again. I think I even participated in this cycle as a leader with a few people due to simply taking commitment for granted. But most of the time, I was supportive and worked hard to support leaders.
"It doesn't have to be about the Church (church) all the time!" -- SD

"The individual has always had to struggle to keep from being overwhelmed by the tribe. No price is too high to pay for the privilege of owning yourself."

A man asked Jesus "do all roads lead to you?" Jesus responds,”most roads don’t lead anywhere, but I will travel any road to find you.” Adapted from The Shack, William Young

Post Reply