I’ve had time today to reassess all the opportunities, invitations and open doors before us, knowing full-well that the most important job that a leader does is think.
Leaders are responsible for the steering of the ship, and whether that ship stays on due course or not.
I’ve spent my day thinking. Making sure that the ship I am steering will stay on due course.
And into the conversation with myself and the Lord has been this issue of doing the work or preparing the work.
Let me give you an example of what I mean:
I worked in the hospitality industry for a time. We served a lot of weddings and other such large banquets.
And when setting tables for say 300 people there are two styles of doing the job.
The First Style:
Count out eight plates and carry those plates to the table. Count out eight glasses and carry those glasses to the table. Count out eight forks, knives, spoons, spoon again, and carry those to the table. Count out eight napkins and carry those to the table.
Do this 37 times.
Make note that the tables are not yet set. In order to set the table, one must move the piles around and back and forth as the setting is finally made complete.
The Second Style:
Take a stack of plates in one arm, walk around the tables putting each plate in its proper place, continuing from table to table until the stack is gone. Go get another stack and repeat. Take a large handful of (in turn) knives, forks, spoons and spoons again, and walk around the tables placing the silverware at each place setting. Repeat until all tables have cutlery.
Take a bin of glasses on your hip and walk around…
You get the point.
Let me ask you, which style is preparing the work, and which style is doing the work?
I’ve got to say, in case you can’t tell, that the first style is merely preparing the work. The work is not to get piles of stuff to each table, the work is to set the table.
(Reminds me of a conversation with my daughter a few weeks back. She was mopping but left some spots on the kitchen floor to which I called her back saying, “The job is not to mash the mop over the floor, the job is to clean the floor” She could only chuckle in response as she went over the floor again.)
But getting back to setting the tables:
Which way of setting the tables takes more time?
I actually walked off a shift that insisted we do it the first way. There was no way $11 an hour was worth that much insanity and frustration. Actually, you couldn’t pay me $50 an hour to do a job that way.
And I’ve never lost the lesson.
Thank goodness. Just this evening I was asked by a gentleman what my strategy was for moving forward. I told him the strategy. It is simple and elegant, but not unwieldy nor over-planned. It is sustainable, but I must admit, it doesn’t look like much on paper.
But I am determined to do the work, and not over-plan the work, for only then am I am freed to be doing more work.
There has been suggestions of showcasing individuals on the website. A great idea at first glance. Why not? Well, I or someone else would be spending all their time at the computer. And we are not called to computer work.
Thoughts of planning curriculum (which I could do, wrote a book about how to do that for homeschoolers), but again, that is not the work I am to be doing. I could plan ad-nauseum and never actually get to what was planned. Don’t we do that all the time?!
We could build a building for training, or build a home base in Africa.
There has been talk of both these things from a few different folks.
The problem is, while we could say, “We have a base in Uganda” or “We have a school in Uganda” and sound very important and official and grand… I wouldn’t be actually doing the work I am called to do.
And all of a sudden we would be maintaining that building, caring for the building, improving the building, administrating the building… it wouldn’t end.
Caring for the school, administrating the school… you get the picture. The school is not the point, education is the point. And that we can accomplish much simpler through routes already established.
The same holds true of so many things, so many types of jobs. Where we spend our time planning and preparing and ensuring everything is set to go, and then planning and preparing and ensuring everything is set to go.
Meanwhile, the actual work is not done,
but boy do we ever feel great! (busy-work is a false placebo)
It can be quite a lot of balderdash.
All that to say, we must be about the work, the real work, the actual thing that is the job.
We do not shrink back from the real work, rather we engage, pour ourselves into the real work, risk for the work, fail and get back up again for the work…
There is no risk putting piles of dishes and cutlery on the table,
But setting that table, perfectly and aligned just right,
Now that take some guts and some willingness to engage