Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Let It Stand

“Mine?!” Blakely points at my juice box I’m drinking.

While I don’t remember teaching her the word “mine,” it seems like something that becomes bizarrely engrained in children very early – to claim things in your name. And I’m sure you’ve noticed that as we grow into adults the obsession with my, me, and mine don’t fade.

“That’s mine… let me do it… that’s my job.”

That's MY church, MY family, MY career, MY process, MY job, MY idea. We box in all the things we feel responsibility or love for and declare “MINE.” The m-words – my, me, mine – are not always entirely bad. They empower and give accountability to the person claiming them. I’d be much more inclined to volunteer at MY church than your church, and I’d certainly want to see MY idea or MY process carried through to completion.

The problem with the my, me, mine mentality is in our refusal to build (family, jobs, churches, processes) agnostic of the ME. If an architect designed and built a building where the architect was required to stand as the center weight-bearing beam, everyone would call him an idiot. An architect should design his building, and then let it stand. Yet too often, that’s the role we want to play. We think “irreplaceable” is a compliment when it comes to our role in our family, our church, or our job, when actually it is a dangerous reality if you genuinely care about those things.

I had already started this blog when I found out that Dale Schaeffer, lead pastor of the church Nate and I first started attending, and his family had taken an opportunity at a church in Medford, Oregon. Selfishly… I’m going to say that again… SELFISHLY (because that’s what it is when we stomp our feet at what God’s call is), I’m bummed the Schaeffers are leaving. Other than my parents, Dale was the first spiritual leader of my life. He baptized, counseled, and married Nate and me and was a part of our lives since the beginning of our relationship 8 years ago. Maybe most impactful, he affirmed Nate’s calling to ministry (even when I just kind of still had my fingers crossed) and helped me reconsider my doubts that a person “like me” could ever have an impact in the church. Dale is a gifted pastor, leader, and coach. Some might throw out the word “irreplaceable,” but that would be a disservice to Dale and the work that he’s put it in the following areas, that are key to building healthy families, churches, and organizations, that are me-agnostic:

I know everyone hates documenting processes and procedures (okay, don’t judge me, I kind of like it…), but this is a very easy way to not end up as the architect/center-beam in my example. In all of my jobs, I’ve been a huge proponent of documenting processes and procedures. Probably once a week, I throw out the cliché “if I/you get hit by a bus…” (because apparently the only way to get across the need for clear documentation is to have everyone imagine your guts strewn across the front of CityLink transportation). But really… God might call me somewhere else – another job, another city, or He really might allow me to get hit by a bus, which would be both horribly and hilariously ironic. But the point is, documentation of how to do critical processes within your role will allow your family/church/organization to thrive, even if you can’t be there. 

This is kind of convicting me as I write this, because while I’m really good at doing this in my job, I’m TERRIBLE at doing this at home, and not great at doing this for church. I’m one of those people, like many, who throws out, “I’ll just do it” when it’s easier to do it myself than document or instruct on my processes and procedures. Note to self – document church marketing procedures and all financial passwords and information for the Morrison household.

Equipping Others
When I think about equipping others, the idea of parenting is definitely at the forefront of my mind. While I know that my parents, like many, were really sad when I moved out, they equipped me well to deal with the “real world.” I can only imagine that as sad as they were for me to “fly the coop,” they’d have been significantly more sad if I flew right back when I was faced with things like paying bills, keeping a job, and waking myself up in the morning (confession - my mom woke me up in song almost every day I lived in that house and initially I had some pretty PTSD-type crazy reactions to alarm clocks, at least those with more offensive ringer styles than my mother’s singing voice). But, other than the whole singing to wake me up thing, my parents did a fantastic job in equipping me to be an adult.

One of my personal inspirations is actually a girl I grew up next door to, who is a few years younger than me. Rachael (and her two younger sisters) tragically lost both her mom and dad within a five year span. Rachael has not crumbled, but instead, thanks to (and as a credit to) her parents, she has taken guardianship of her two younger sisters, at the age of 20. She’s had to handle estate matters that are a struggle for many adults, all in the midst of a personal tragedy. And, all in the midst of a time when her peers’ primary concerns are about going out, boyfriends, and clothes. While Rachael’s parents were irreplaceable in the love and guidance that is now missed, they’ve equipped Rachael to kick this world’s butt, even in the face of adversity.

Empowering Others 
While I think some people throw around “equipping” and “empowering” interchangeably, to me these are two distinct processes. Equipping is helping someone gain the ABILITY, and empowering is giving someone the OPPORTUNITY. I am exhilarated (and I don’t think I’m alone), when someone says “take this and run with it” or “figure it out” or “how can we do this?” I love solving problems. And I love when people empower me to solve them. I also love when I delegate something to someone else and they blow me away with what they come up with. Micromanagement is closely linked to underperformance, disengagement, and lower morale on the job. Why? Because a micromanager says, directly or indirectly, that they are capable and you are not. My goal is that I equip and empower my child, and she rocks out life at levels I’ll never achieve. If you can mentor, empower, or coach someone who either is or becomes smarter and more successful than you – WIN!

Another thing I’ve learned – on both sides of the coin – is to empower under-qualified people to take on challenges or jobs that they really want to do. Use your discernment, and not just someone’s resume, to determine their ability to be empowered and take on challenges. I outperformed PhDs on my organizational change management certification. On the other hand, Caiden Smith (a 3rd grader) dominated me at checkers the other day. Take a chance on someone. Passion and motivation can frequently outweigh education, intelligence, and training. And when you empower and believe in someone, maybe even more than they believe in themselves, they will rise to the occasion.

My dad will frequently place bets on his team’s performance at work. And while my dad is not a gambler, he does this often and with a great deal of public flare and fanfare. Because when as a leader you say “I believe in you THIS much,” you might just be more inclined to believe in your ability as well.

So in a world, where we cling to the idea of the irreplaceability of the ME… in a world where we crave to be the martyr architects, supporting the entire structure… be irreplaceable enough to be willing to be replaced. In fact, be proactive in your documentation, equipping, and empowering. Because a leader, parent, employee, or volunteer that is irreplaceable because of a failure to plan, is really the first person who should be replaced. So build your legacy. And then let it stand.