Years ago, I worked for a company that had been around for about 50 years with many 20 plus year veteran employees. The company had done ‘ok’ in its growth financially and with regards to performance. I was part of a new group that was brought in after the hands of ownership had changed. The new owners saw the incredible and great potential that this company and its employees possessed. But there were some hurdles that needed to be gotten past. As I look back, these years later, I can see how the Lord was using that job experience to prepare me for today’s ministry challenges. I believe that our churches today face these very same hurdles. And although they were identified within the confines of that business, they find their way in application to the church today.
My boss at the time, and I sat in his office one day and spent hours analyzing the workforce in an attempt to identify the top hurdles and the biggest struggles that existed. The employees had the skills and the abilities to learn the jobs, but for some reason, we just could not raise the production rate or the income levels. After many hours of tossing it back and forth we finally came to a solid conclusion that there were three main hurdles that needed to be jumped.
The first hurdle was a lack of a:
Sense of Urgency – the employees in this business just seemed to think that everything was ok. Even though they struggled day in and day out with problem after problem. Faulty equipment, untrained employees, lack of clear direction, etc. I remember on my first day walking the production floor, I was amazed to find that all the production lines were using garden variety battery operated screwdrivers. This might be ok for the home shop, but this company was making high performance automotive gauges. Life in the trenches had just evolved into accepting the shortfalls and faulty situations that existed. The employees had lulled themselves into a sense of “oh well”, and “well, there’s just nothing we can do”. They did not see the need to be urgent about what they were doing. Truth be told, their competition was eating their lunch, so to speak.
So what is the spiritual application you say? Glad you asked! Hebrews 10:25 “Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is; but exhorting one another: and so much the more, as ye see the day approaching.” We are fast approaching the return of our Lord and Savior. We need to realize that His Day is coming and we will be out of time. Out of time to fix our issues, out of time to win souls, out of time to make everything we do the best that we can. We too often allow this lack of a sense of urgency to permeate throughout all that we do. Soon we have lulled ourselves into a false sense that “oh well. There’s really nothing I can do about it”. Meanwhile, we are called in 1 Peter 5:8 to “Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour:” The devil is looking to eat our lunch…and we are the main course!
The second hurdle was a lack of:
Accountability – these employees did not want to allow for any kind of accountability. Defined as ‘liability to give account, and to receive reward or punishment for actions’. They wanted to pretty much do as they please. After all, ‘we have been doing this for all these years and have gotten to this point just fine’ they said. Now, accountability is a strange thing, and nobody really wants to allow for it in their lives because quite honestly…it makes us face our shortcomings (and nobody likes to do that). However, it is critical in business that you look at ALL the problems, get them on the table and start finding ways to fix them. Although unfortunately in the past, many people would take accountability and turn it into blame, it still does not alleviate the fact that the right thing to do is install accountability. As we began to introduce quality metrics, performance metrics, and set standards the people actually began to become happier with their jobs. This was a strange phenomenon that we saw and after further investigation we found that much of the accountability resistance was due to faulty equipment and lacking policies or procedures. When we installed these measures of accountability, it exposed the shortfalls in the system, thereby allowing the ‘higher-ups’ to focus on making life better.
In our Christian walk, we see the very same thing happen. When we institute accountability metrics (prayer lists, daily Bible reading schedules, and prayer partners) we find the shortfalls in ourselves or in our schedules or in our priorities. As we install the standard (God’s Word) and we look to measure ourselves against the standard, we find that our lives will become much better. The Scriptures state in Romans 14:12 “So then every one of us shall give account of himself to God.” This accounting of our time spent here on the earth will one day be held as judgment against us. If we will allow accountability into our lives, then we can show God, our Father, the shortcoming in ourselves and he can begin to work on fixing those. Overall our lives will become much better and we will be much happier as the days go by.
Lastly, we found a lack of:
Productivity – when we placed metrics (methods used to measure things) into the environment, the numbers revealed detrimental productivity. The employees were working, and getting nowhere. Like tires spinning in mud. There was a whole lot of stuff being flung around, and all it was doing was making a mess. The yields or gains in sales were lackluster, the scrapping of parts was high, and the cost overruns were great. When we started to get the right MINDSET…a sense of urgency and accountability instilled into the people, we began to see the yield of production rise, while the cost and frustration of the yield go down.
The Bible clearly states in Ecclesiastes 9:10 “Whatsoever thy hand findeth to do, do it with thy might; for there is no work, nor device, nor knowledge, nor wisdom, in the grave, whither thou goest.” Solomon had realized the very same thing (or maybe I should say that WE realized the very same thing). How much fruit do you and I bear for Christ? How many souls do we have to our account? Have we done a great job at bearing the fruits of righteousness the Bible teaches? All these things are supposed to be the outcome of a Christian whose life is one of serving the Lord and loving the Savior. We are to be a productive group. We are to be changing the world, for Christ. When we get the first two things down, the third starts to take shape. Net result, do not shun or turn away from having a sense of urgency nor resist accountability.
As a fun side note, my boss and I turned this into an acronym and began to teach the employees these principles. S.A.P. – we taught them that they needed to be good S.A.P.’s!
One final note, since some of you will be dying to know the outcome of the work! The company went on to quadruple in sales, double in profitability and employee morale went sky high. Certainly we continued to experience the ups and downs of production, but people were generally happy to have a process and a way in which they could improve their lives.
I pray that you find this small article helpful. I trust that if you earnestly seek the Holy Spirit’s input, He will reveal the areas in which you could excel for the Lord.