If I remember correctly, it was last week when the report first came in. It was not happy news. A member was in deep distress and had taken drastic action. As a chaplain, I was concerned that no follow-up had been made, and that it may be impossible to do so. Information like the person’s identity, as well as who had been there first-hand, was not being revealed.
I was left wondering how, and if any, support could be given and who would be the one to give it.
What you may notice is that there was a breakdown in communications and even this seemed a bit odd. Odd in the sense that no one who was involved in the situation had failed to communicate, but somehow the message became lost in the mix.
This is where a “ministry of presence”, which can be practiced by any leader, becomes an essential element. If I had not gone to visit Major Hardworker, I never would have known anything about the incident. I then would not have had the chance to do a follow-up with the respondents, and my colleague would never have been able to check-in with the member’s unit.
By showing up in person, I can show that I care; That what is happening in any given place is of interest. I’ll hear what folks have to say, and even though one person alone may not give anything away, pieces of information can be puzzled together to make a clearer picture.
Someone may be feeling “targeted” by a supervisor. It may be in fact that the supervisor is merely identifying someone to complete a task, based on his or her trade qualifications. Why would a supervisor ask someone unqualified to do a job?
This was a situation that required more investigation. These kinds of revelations, so to speak, happen only when you show up and begin talking to people. Hardly anybody would tell you a word about the situation in an email or on the telephone, unless it were a real crisis.
All of this brings to mind a scene from Shakespeare where a king does a walkabout on the eve of battle:
With cheerful semblance and sweet majesty;
That every wretch, pining and pale before,
Beholding him, plucks comfort from his looks;
A largess universal, like the sun,
His liberal eye doth give to everyone,
Thawing cold fear, that mean and gentle all
Behold, as may unworthiness define,
A little touch of Harry in the night.
(Henry V,, Act IV. Prologue)