Since posting on The Pastor Trap I have attempted to keep a keen eye on my own behavior. Here is what I have done right, wrong and what someone else did wrong (in my humble opinion... )
Saturday during our church clean up day a member had a heart attack. I did the following:
- Called 911
- Sat with him while we waited for the ambulance (the defibrillator was at the ready, he never lost consciousness and spoke with us the whole time)
- Invited the gathering members to pray with me while we waited.
- Gave a brief prayer
- Asked for whereabouts of wife partly so I could tell her and partly to keep his mind off the pain in his chest.
- Met his wife at the local hospital, hugged and calmed her down before she saw him (she has been given a diagnosis of the beginning of Alzheimers and I knew her husband would be more concerned about her than himself)
- Left messages for their son and daughters
- Drove wife to big city hospital and waited while husband was in surgery (made her eat something)
- Out of surgery and family arrived at same time - brief prayer, left.
Visited another parishioner in the hospital who had taken turn for the worse. Prayed with him and made sure he knew of my presence which was good. Then to his son I berated hospital and shared worries about the care his father was receiving. Bad, very, very bad. NOT a pastoral presence. Damn.
Got a call Sunday morning on the church voicemail from a pastor at another church, same denomination. She had been asked to pray for the person in the first example and she wanted to know exactly what had happened in order to "lift him up in prayer."
My translation: "I want to know all the juicy details so I can look good to my congregation members and can act appropriately worried and concerned. Also this way I can get a rush from the gasp of the congregation when I announce it in church."
I know her better than you, so trust me when I say this was most likely her true motivation... not that she can see it herself.
As for her desire to "lift him up": God knows the details, you do not even need to know the name.
We do the best we can knowing what we know about ourselves. We apologize when we get it wrong and we learn from our mistakes.
By the way, my parishioner in the 'good' example comes home tomorrow after a catherization and a stint. The second one was sitting up today and eating a little bit so I am still holding on to some hope there. I apologized to his son for my behavior.