This is not one of my considered posts.
Seminary’s out for the summer, and I’m going home later today.
My phone rang at 02:05 this morning. It was over on the desk. “No one I know would be so inconsiderate,” I thought. “It must be some corporate robot trying to sell me something.” But then, “What if it’s an emergency?” So I stumbled over to it. The display said John Smith. “Huh? He must be calling me in his sleep.” So I went back to bed. And the phone rings again, and I hear this voice calling my name. It’s not God. It’s ‘John Smith’, and he’s at the pedestrian gate to the street, which is right outside my window. I get it. He’s without his gate key and wants in to the seminary residence. So I go out and let them in.
‘John Smith’ is reeking of alcohol and unsteady on his feet. He thanks me and heads on to his flat. Bear in mind that this is a Methodist Seminary; we don’t drink.
I’m supposed to report his misconduct. I’m not going to do that, in spite of the fact that I am liable to discipline if I don’t.
What I am going to do is knock on his door at a reasonable hour and firmly and nicely point out to him that he’s made a mistake. This isn’t a matter of his personal ethics or what’s acceptable between him and God, this is a breach of seminary rules. Then I’m going to warn him that if he makes me a witness to his misconduct again, I will have to report it. And that in that case I will report both incidents, not just the second one.
There are aggravating circumstances to this first incident which I am not going to put down here. I will just say that they have nothing to do with being woken at 02:05: we are called to ministry, and that is always going to happen, for bad reasons as well as good ones.
But I do wonder whether I am taking the right line in this. I would appreciate readers’ views.