by Ben Smith, and the Innovative Ministries Team
As it happens, words are powerful.
As a teenager, my Dad worked for a window making company where he was in control of manufacturing and distribution. It was his responsibility to make sure that when an order came in, that the window was made on time and on budget, with full quality assurance. There were times when the factory was pumping out thousands of windows a week, producing saw dust 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. This was great in the boom time. Housing prices were good, people were buying, and people were building. That was until the bubble burst. With its metaphorical rubber casing flying across the community, that bubble represented more than simply a slowing in the housing economy- it meant lives were torn apart. My Dad would come home and talk about his strategies of balancing the budget, using acronyms to de-sensitize the situation and perhaps distance himself from the reality of his management responsibilities: “How many “FTEs” should we reduce to ensure the books are balanced? How can we improve efficiencies to maintain positive cash flow?” It sounded relentless. Ruthless. Sometimes it even seemed heartless. Little did I know what was happening inside his heart.
Where I come from, it is common to ask questions of a culture that you belong to, even though it’s so close to your heart that it seems one and the same. Asking questions of government leaders and management of organizations, stating facts, and contributing to discussions online and in person are ways we show we are engaged, and are ways in which we believe the community can be improved. While some can be apathetic towards what’s happening around us, I believe compassionate questions that address current issues encourage dialogue and discussion. I question, challenge and suggest new ideas openly because I care and I want to encourage others to respond, share their thoughts, and do the same. Maybe it’s my way of being the change you want to see in the world? Regardless of that, these questions always come out of a place of concern and wanting to help.
So I asked my Dad one day, “How can you do this?” His response still brings the hairs on my arms to a point. “How can I do this?” he said, “I do this so that one day this organization can employ the sons of the man I just retrenched, and so that this company can survive this point in history. I do this knowing that one day these actions will result in a stronger community in the long term”.
From the outside, what seemed to look like a sport or an easy decision, he hated. Having the responsibility to maintain the organization and as many jobs as he could through innovation and change, still ended in having to advise someone that they wouldn’t have a job the following week. So whilst from the outside it seemed as though he was the harsh decision maker, really, the decisions he made were never made lightly. In fact, the opposite was true. The future of the organization meant that unpopular decisions were sometimes needed.
Our thoughts and prayers are with our community leaders around the world as they bear the burdens of management. We can only imagine how many sleepless nights are being endured, and how many tears have been shed in order to ensure the mission of the church is taken into the future. We are standing by your side, trusting you, walking with you, and are humbled by your dedication to this faith movement we all care so much about. We want to know: How can we help?