Sunday, February 07, 2010

Sales & Management

Father Brainerd taught me many great one-liners. One of the best, which I use most often, is “I’m in sales, not management.”

You see, it so happens that people often give feedback to priests about the weather. Usually, it is to complain – “Couldn’t you have done something about this rain?” Or, “I wouldn’t have expected it to get this cold with you here.” Every now and then, it’s more of a compliment – “Ah, now I see why this is such a beautiful evening.” Both are, somehow, flattering. Neither, however, has any basis in reality.

Father Brainerd’s way of deflecting this was to point out, “I’m in sales, not management.” Nope, we priests don’t get a whole lot of input on the weather. We can pray, with you and for you, but command decisions of that sort are left to “upstairs,” “the big guy,” “the Boss.” Oh, heaven knows we have our opinions about such matters, but ….how often that affects the course of things, you can decide.

And if the progress of this winter is any indication, you will not have any trouble deciding. Snow is a particularly unwelcome weather option for me since becoming Pastor. During my one winter administering Saint Mary’s in Chinatown, we had a Sunday morning snowstorm, and I had to shovel the approaches to the church myself. That was hard, but it was invigorating – and free.

Now all I can think of is how much it costs. And on a weekend, it is even worse! This past mid-week snowfall pointed out to me what a grump I have become on the whole subject. It was, by any measure, a beautiful snow. It was wet and sticky enough to cling to the trees and make everything sparkle. It hushed the roar of the evening rush hour, without jamming it up completely. (Have you noticed, that after just two previous snowstorms, Washingtonians are already becoming more sensible about driving in the snow?)

Even I couldn’t help but admire it. I shrugged my shoulders, and realized, there’s not a thing I can do about it; I may as well appreciate it. The day after – the day the school was closed – made for a very quiet and productive day in the rectory. That’s always a good thing! Maybe management DOES know what it is doing, after all.

As to my being in sales, al I can say is, I am not good enough for my “product.” In fact, if I really did have to sell for a living, I would doubtless fall short. I know that having a supplier (of grace and salvation) who can and does often exceed even the wildest promises and predictions can sometimes make even me look good, just because I am associated with the organization.

So we look forward to another weekend of weather mayhem. If you are reading this in church on the weekend, either you are most intrepid, or there’s been a minor miracle, and no, I can’t take any credit. But I am at peace with that. Because while I may have periodic quibbles with the weather, I thank God he called me to sales, and keeps management for Himself.

Monsignor Smith

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