It is the time of year when many of us reflect and introspect. As I prepare to hurtle my way through the last month of this year, I have a sense of accomplishment, a satisfaction of what has been, of a job done well. Simultaneously, there is a restlessness, a desire for what could be done differently. So, in the still of the night when my home is sleeping, my mind wanders and my heart wonders. I question everything. I embrace my calling and ministry gift, protecting and nurturing it, yet, in the quiet night with no daytime agenda to distract me, I lay it down countless times, knowing that, alone, I am inadequate to the task.
I recently heard a friend say he no longer wants to work with people who are “projects”. I recall nodding at him, understanding his dilemma. At the same time I wondered, “Aren’t we all projects?” I was in his office for another purpose altogether and we both had little time so I let it pass. But that sentence of his has haunted me. I can’t imagine a world where the best leaders give up on “project people” for no reason other than that project people take up time or energy or talent great leaders don’t have to give. The truth is, in some area of our life we are all projects to someone else. We are all inadequate to the task before us. We are spouses, parents, employers or employees. We are siblings and children and friends to someone and we are not adequate to all these tasks. We sometimes succeed and we sometimes fail. We walk with clarity and we bumble our way through. We know and we don’t know. It is the human condition. We are created to depend on and draw strength from God and from each other. If we decide we have no time for project people, we decide we have no time for people.
We are all called to minister to people. Regular, normal people who vacillate between confidence and hesitancy, people who aspire to great things but who simultaneously long for the simple life, people who are happy and content but are also sad and afraid. Normal, regular, project people.
My time, like everyone else’s, has demands placed on it. Time is finite – I have 24 hours in my day. It certainly is important that I spend it wisely. I am, however, reminded that time is also infinite. You and I are eternal beings, of immeasurable value to our creator. Organizations are not infinite. Every single business, school, church, non-profit, will come to an end some day. As a leader, as a person, as a minister of the grace of God, I am not called to any organization. Nobody is. We are called to people. To project people.
If you are in the building trade, you are called to house people. If you are in retail trade, you are called to feed or clothe people. If you are a teacher, a lawyer, a banker or in the hospitality industry, you are called to grow and to serve people. Every disciple of Jesus is called to serve people, not to grow and to serve an organization. Yes, healthy organizations facilitate good service but if our main focus becomes the organization, we will without any doubt, sooner or later, miss the important aspect of the people that the organization exists to serve in the first place.
I sit in the stillness of the silent night and I wonder about these things. This has been a productive year. The organization for which I work has accomplished much. We have done good work. Yet, these thoughts have been planted in my heart for a reason and I wonder. I wonder what should be done differently.
As the year draws to a close and I prepare for the year to come, I determine to simplify Organization and to maximize People. If you too are contemplating and planning for next year, I encourage you to put, not your organization first, but rather, to prioritize its’ people. Seek out your project people and then plan to serve them with all your heart.
Time spent doing this is never lost. Instead, it is at this very place that time is found. It is here that time turns into eternity and it is eternity that has been placed into the human soul.
“He has made everything beautiful in its time. He has also set eternity in the human heart …” – Ecclesiastes 3:11