Friday, November 15, 2013

Come Walk with Me

Many thanks to readers who commented on my post, The Price of Success. You gave me much upon which to reflect, including some ideas I had not considered, as I pondered how to respond to the fact that my job, as I know and love it, is going away. Not that I wanted this job to begin with. No, this job was God's idea, not mine. However, I have since made the job mine. I realized that when I learned that the job would take on such a different character.

I thought about a number of approaches I could take, and leaving was right up there at the top of the list. I noticed that some folks worried that I might leave; well, they'll cope, I figured. Of course, they would. But that is not the issue. I have been their scaffolding, and removing scaffolding all at once instead of bit by bit can cause even the most beautifully constructed buildings to collapse. I was not thinking of that, though, in the latter days of last week. I was not thinking of anyone's collapse except my own. I was angry, too, in some ways. I have spent four years building this division from a ragtag collection of people trying to learn to do international work to a pretty highly respected set of departments that has more than doubled in size since I came and is set to explode by fall to 350% of what it was. Although I was told that the split was being occasioned by success, not failure, there was a part of me that considered the split a vote of no confidence even though logically and by everything that has been said to me I know that is silly.

I also wondered where God fit into all of this. He sent me to a job, then let the job be fractured and me shunted off to work with only a portion of the projects I had developed -- and for someone to be placed above me who would do the international negotiating and representation while I made sure that the work got done well. Unfair! Or was this a sign that it really was time for me to move on? Had I completed my task? Early on, I was getting no answers to my pleas for clarification. Or, if I was, I was unaware. I am not good at subtle discernment. I need that conk on the head kind of of clarification.

I got it. A gentle conk. Friday evening as I was driving home from work, still distraught and again begging for guidance, I heard a gentle "Come walk with Me." Huh? It has been some time since I have taken my nightly walks around the mission. I have been coming home later and later from work (that growth and success has demanded more and more of my time) and have been too tired or had too many other chores to accomplish. I have missed them, those quiet times with God, just walking and talking, walking and listening, and walking in silence. Of course, I will come walk again, especially when coaxed in that gentle manner which I felt in the words, "Come walk with me."

And so, when I reached home, I grabbed something to eat, then put on a light jacket (summer evenings in our part of California are cool, even cold), and headed out the door for that walk. It felt so good to again be in that Presence in the twilight hours when there were few sounds and little light to distract me from enjoying the Company. I walked and walked, and I was not alone for any of that walk. Finally, I understood. Whatever the purpose for me to take this job four years ago, there is a purpose for me to retain it now. I don't know whether the two purposes coincide, but I do know one very important thing. I had been asking all the wrong questions, looking for the wrong kind of guidance, reasoning through the situation with the wrong kind of logic. You see, I thought the issue was about me -- what I should do, where I should work, what kinds of goals I should have, how I should respond. I learned on that walk that it is not about me at all.

It's about those will be most affected. It is about the nervous newbies whose hands I have held, the heavily burdened have used my open-door policy to bring family and personal matters to my attention and seek support and advice, and and the junior managers have looked to me for mentoring. Someone else will have to do that now, but who will facilitate the transition if I do not stay and do that? It is about the department that was planned to be broken apart -- I have already been able to snuff out that plan. It is about the department planned to be transferred to a division head who would derail its success and growth for reasons of lack of knowledge and the skills to continue its support -- I have already been able to get it transferred to another division head instead. I would like to have kept these departments. They were two of my favorites, and their successes have been outstanding. Now two of my peers will oversee the continued success of these projects. Sigh! My ego would like to feel injured, abused. But my ego does not have a role here. I insist that my managers use a servant leadership approach. So must I. In that approach, there is no room for the ego, and so, too, my ego must be pushed aside for the sake of those who need my help.

As for the long run, we shall see what happens. Two years remain until all the transitions are complete and I get "demoted" into reporting to an intermediary and not directly to my current boss, before the new guy gets to handle all the glory and I get to handle all the problems. There may be options in the long run. There are usually options. The critical thing is what God wants from me. I think I can rest assured that if I start to stray again from the path He would have me take, I will get another call to "Come walk with Me."

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