Thursday, May 08, 2008

The Inclusion Rule

I had occasion to be reminded of one of my favorite Rootisms this week. It involves what I believe to be the most violated principle in church work and group dynamic there is. It has been one of the most frustrating elements of poor leadership that I have seen in my whole career as a preacher. I call it "The Inclusion Rule" and I quote it often in meetings with leaders and workers. It states "Before you do anything, ask yourself who does this involve and how will they feel about it." Seems simple enough, but because it's ignored, it's a source of much hurt and discouragement amount good workers in the church. Unfortunately, I have been guilty of violating it myself. You see, in servant oriented, go-getter, self-starter, "If you want the job done right, do it yourself" dedicated church worker organizations - many of us just want to press on and "git'er done"! And while we have no business being territorial or egotistical about our work of service, we don't like it when someone oversteps their responsibilities and steps into ours. Not long ago I was directing and scheduling a major church function. I purposely planned things for specific reasons and intentionally left something out to make it easier on certain folks. (Is that diplomatic enough?) Anyway, some wonderful folks - hard conscientious workers - decided something needed to be added to the plan so they just did it - without asking me or even sharing their plans with me. I wish I could say it didn't bother me, but it did - for just a short while - until I realized that my ego wasn't as important as God being glorified by their good work. So, while it took a little bit of time for me to come around (hours only), I was able to choose to praise God for good workers doing good work.
Some times it's just poor communication and misunderstandings, but in a few occasions it may truly be thoughtlessness and ego. I've been on both sides and it's something Satan can really use to drive wedges between folks simply trying to do the Lord's work. I like to think of Jesus being asked by His apostles to straighten out some folks who where doing great works, but they were not part of their group. They thought someone was clearly overstepping. Jesus told them to rejoice in something good being done and stop being so self-centered about doing good works.
As long as church folks are actively serving others and glorifying God they will occasionally infringe on one anothers "areas" and give Satan an opportunity to create a conflict. That won't happen if we decide to simply be happy that good things are getting done and be thankful that God is glorified.
That having been said, The Inclusion Rule is still appropriate, reasonable, and thoughtful for all of us. Now - if I could just remember my own Rootisms when I need them.....

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