“I recently read about an old man, walking the beach at dawn, who noticed a young man ahead of him picking up starfish and flinging them into the sea. Catching up with the youth, he asked what he was doing. The answer was that the stranded starfish would die if left in the morning sun. […]
“For even the Son of Man (Jesus) did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life as a ransom for many” (Mark 10:45NIV).
However, when we take a closer look at our lives, such things as policies, programs, and even property tend to command a lot more of our time and attention than people. Here are a few thoughts on other things often take precedence over people:
Policies – The rule followers amongst us love policies. Before we do anything, we want to know what the rules are. Additionally, we are not afraid to point out those who fall short of the established rules. We take it upon ourselves to be enforcers (or reminders) of the rules – because someone has to do it!
If you know me well, I do love rules too and there is a place and time for stating and reminding people of the rules. However, our adherence to policies and procedures should not come at the expense of people. Policies and procedures ought to serve as a guide for how we can most effectively serve and protect people.
Property – Most organizations need property in order to conduct business, carry out ministries and provide programs. I serve in a church that has several buildings. We have a church building for worship services and Sunday School classrooms. We also have a gymnasium for our basketball and other sports programs, along with a whole Education Building that houses after school and daycare programs. What a blessing!
The property enables us to serve people in a variety of ways. It means that the grounds, floors and walls may take beating from the traffic, along with an occasional unsanctioned drawing on the wall with a crayon by a 2year old! So we clean things up and keep serving people. It also takes a considerable amount of time and money to clean and make repairs to the property. We always want the building to serve the people rather than the other way around.
Programs – This is our favorite one. As churches, we love programming because it helps us feel like we are doing something worthwhile. (To be sure, programs when done right, can be a great means to an end – i.e. reaching people). However, there are times then programs in themselves become the end – rather than the means. We must therefore resist the temptation to be so focused on programs that we miss people. Additionally, there is always a newer or more “hip” program – often costing money – that is out there for us to buy!
Propriety – this is the way things ought to be in any given organization or social setting. It is very important as people, to observe the cultural and social norms. These can be because of different ethnicities and cultures or simply organizational culture. Doubtless, every organization whether it’s a church or social club has a culture. In the New Testament times, we learn that the Jews and Gentiles didn’t mix. This was an acceptable yet dysfunctional norm. And Jesus along with later Gospel writers like Paul, would challenge this propriety as it meant perpetuating prejudice against certain people groups.
How are you doing so far? Does any of this ring true for you? Take an honest look at your personal and professional life and see where you may be falling short. We will talk more about this later!
To find out what else we tend to exalt above people, look out of my next post in a few days.
Thanks for joining me!
Good company in a journey makes the way seem shorter. — Izaak Walton