Sometimes all that’s needed is a bit of confidence

Of all the horrible money-sucking, modern-life purchases we can be forced to make, is there any less enjoyable way to lose money than on a washing machine? I mean, don’t get me wrong, I get their value. It is, after all, why we decided to get a new one when ours gave up the ghost and literally started smoking mid-wash. But it is hardly an exciting purchase. It is expensive, but not exciting. Nevertheless, buy one we had to do.

Our kitchen appliance setup is a bit awkward. Not a straightforward out with the old, in with the new job. So, we cleverly thought, we would pay the men to do it. Only, the day came and they took one look at the awkward setup and went, we can’t do that. So, lo, we were left with a washing machine in the middle of our kitchen, very much unplumbed in.

The problem I have is not so much that I am not handy – though, it is probably worth saying, I am not – but more that I lack confidence. So, there are various jobs I think I know what needs to be done, but I don’t quite trust myself to do them. I think I know what needs to happen, but I fear I’ll make a pigs ear of it and end up calling someone out and not only paying even more money for them to fix my bodge job, but also looking stupid as I have to explain the state it is in is, in fact, the fruit of my labours.

Our awkward washing machine setup was one such matter. Specifically, the waste hose on the new machine was very short and nowhere near reaching the main waste pipe. I think I knew what needed to happen, but wasn’t certain. I then discovered what I thought needed to happen, but what I expected to be the case wasn’t quite the case. The job, if I understood it rightly, was not a difficult one – get a connector and connect the waste pipe to a new, longer waster pipe – and involved little more than a piece of plastic and two clips. But I lacked the confidence to be sure what I thought was required was actually what was required. The connectors I had felt too small, but I wasn’t sure if it wasn’t tight in the pipe whether that mattered. I went to various shops to find an appropriate fitting that would sit tightly in the hose. It wasn’t until a spoke to someone at a plumbers merchants who assured me I had what I needed already and my gut instinct was right. It’s an easy job, get on and do it, you’ll be fine. And so I did, and it was.

As I have mentioned before, I appreciate this blog can sometimes sail tend towards consumer advice. Naturally, if you do get a washing machine and its waste hose isn’t long enough, I’d be glad to pass on my now evidently expert advice. But what I was more interested in was the issue of confidence. Ultimately, all it took was for somebody – actually somebody in a shop who was clear I didn’t even need to buy their stuff – to confirm that what I was doing was right. They didn’t say much, I told them what I thought I was doing, they affirmed it was right. And with that, I felt able to do a job that I was previously concerned would end with a flooded kitchen!

I think there is something in this when it comes to local church training. Often, what people need is not lots of top-heavy management. Rather, what they need is confidence. Whether it is preaching for the first time, taking early tentative steps towards evangelism or opening up their home as someone who just hasn’t done that before often what is needed is confidence. not a new course, not a detailed plan, but just someone asking, ‘what are you planning to do?’ and when they’ve heard it affirming that it sounds alright.

Very often in church, we can be scared to give people enough leeway to actually learn new skills. We are okay with them observing and watching us – which can be really helpful – but we are reticent to let them do it themselves. Alternatively, we might be happy to let them do it themselves, but we don’t give them any sense that what they are planning is the right sort of thing to do. Sometimes, all it takes is someone sending them away to plan something, listening to what is planned and saying, ‘that sounds alright to me; get on with it’. There is lots more we can say about training, lots more we can do to help or hinder people, but in the end we want them to crack on, give it a go and one of the best things we can do is give people the confidence to simply get on and do it. We can’t evangelise for people, we can’t learn on their behalf, but we can help them develop confidence as they learn new skills and set about serving the kingdom.