Posted tagged ‘Issues’

The Few Seconds Visitor

March 28, 2018

WORDS FROM W.W.                                                    March 28, 2018

                                     

I had lunch last week with a friend of mine who needed to vent some…and laugh! He had just spent the previous thirty minutes with someone who had stopped by his office and asked the question:

“Got a few seconds?”

Being someone who is responsible for a workload that is enough for two people, as well as being a nice guy, he said yes. The few seconds extended past a few minutes and into one long rant. It took a few minutes to bring him back down to the humor involved in just being human, but a long lunch later he was ready to return to work.

I remember those days of having an unscheduled visitor stop by the church office and, with a smile on his/her face, ask me that question. One man who was a representative of a mission organization would cause me to grind my teeth as I struggled with the spiritual dilemma fueled by my deeply-rooted Baptist guilt of telling him I was unavailable. That internal wrestling match had come as a result of several experiences with this man of God, and several of those “Got a few seconds” pop-ins!

People who ask for a few seconds usually have no concept of time. In their minds time is infinite. A few seconds could mean a decade in the vastness of time.

In my 36 years of pastoring the only productive meetings I had with someone who asked me if I had a few seconds was when another staff person approached me. Since we were working in the same building it meant that there was something vitally important for me to hear. Otherwise, the person who would stop by, like I was a Starbucks coffee stop, would produce anger, frustration, and cost me a half-day. The half-day cost would be because of how difficult it would be to shift my mind back to one of the other tasks I had to get accomplished that day. After the unannounced visitor left I was still dealing with the frustration of what had just been talked about.

If it was the week leading up to Maundy Thursday, Good Friday, and Easter Sunday I could expect someone to grab my ear for a while. It, of course, was “something that just couldn’t wait!”

“The Few Seconds Visitor” was usually a single-issue person, thinking that the whole church was also disgruntled about the same thing. He/She often saw himself/herself as being the mouthpiece for a larger contingent, like an elected senator speaking for the voters.

In ministry the pop-in person usually has an issue that could and should be handled by a committee or staff person, but the visitor doesn’t like how the team or staff person is handling it. Forget about process and rules of procedure! If he can bend the ear of the pastor/director/principal/administrator for a while to get his way then so be it!

If Jesus had been stopped by someone who wanted just a few seconds of his time he would have said “Get behind me, Satan!”, or perhaps he would have performed an exorcism of the one-issue demon the person was afflicted with.

Let me get to wisdom! The wise person is one who identifies the few people who he trusts, and who, when asked, tell him the truth and advise him on the decisions to be made. The wise person is the one who seeks to receive “a few seconds” of thoughts from people such as that. The wise person knows he needs those trusted few who he can filter situations, assumptions, ideas, and perceptions through. He needs those few people who can lead him to the right decision through clarifying questions.

My youngest daughter would often come to me with a request of something she wanted me to buy her. As she reached her high school years, when her requests seemed to grow in the size of their price tags, I would ask her the question, “Is this a want or a need?” She hated that question because it put things into perspective.

The person who wants just a few seconds of your time is usually someone who has a want not a need. The healthy organization, and effective leader, is one that is able to separate personal wants from organizational needs, personal agendas from organizational priorities, and personal rants from absolute truth.

Thanks for taking a few seconds to read this!

We All Have Issues!

April 9, 2015

WORDS FROM W.W.                                                            April 9, 2015

                                           

     Whenever I’m home I sleep with my “blankie.” Unless I’m flying to another city I don’t go to sleep at night without an increasingly frayed piece of warm fuzzys that relaxes my tensed-up body. It’s been that way for the past thirty-five years. It was Carol’s before we got married. Sometime soon after we walked down the aisle together I stole her blanket in a gradual non-violent way. She now sleeps under an electric blanket, sheet, and comforter. I don’t. Just give me my blanket and I’m a happy camper.

That’s just one of my issues. I have others! Whenever we have popcorn or peanuts as we watch TV in the evening I have to have a soft drink. Popcorn just naturally goes with a Pepsi. It’s like PB and J, like a marriage made in the snack aisle.

I’m typing this post with two left fingers and one right. That’s how I’ve always typed. I don’t understand…it’s just how it is! I’ve just got typing issues.

As a friend of mine used to say, “You’ve got issues!”

I do, but as a pastor I’ve come to realize that everyone has issues. Some are more pronounced than others, more visible or more destructive, more emotional or more mentally challenging.

There is a tendency to focus on the issues that are apparent in other people instead of owning up to the weirdness of our own life. For example, if I strolled through the mall wearing knee high black socks with my Hush Puppies, a pair of khaki shorts, and white buttoned down shirt, people would look at me and cross over to the other side of the corridor. My fashion issue would be out there…readily visible…leaving shaking heads and wide-open eyes in its wake.

But what if I have an eating disorder, or a racial bias, or can’t stand people with white hair? Those issues are often hidden. The issues of my heart can fool a lot of people. What I do when no one is looking frequently reveals my issues and distorted views of life.

Perhaps we need an “IA” group…Issues Anonymous.

“Hi! I’m Bill, and I have issues!”

“Hi Bill!”

Probably wouldn’t work! Perhaps…however we could come to a point where each one of us recognizes we are issue-filled before we pass the box of issue tissues. What better place for that to be than the church where people can be loved with grace and understanding!

Many of you put the brakes on with that last statement!

Let’s face it! We encounter people in our churches that seem to have their act together, their lives in perfect harmony, and their relationship with God an earthly expression of heavenly bliss. To admit that we’ve got issues is threatening. We hesitate to reveal that to the saints.

But…you see…all those people with nicely combed hair and straightened ties, looking like the Ward and June Cleavers of the 21st century…they’ve got issues too!

In fact, being people with issues helps us identify more closely with the characters of the Bible. Just think about it! Jacob was honorable until it wasn’t to his advantage and then he lied like a dog to get blessed. Jonah asked the city of Nineveh to repent and then pouted about the fact that they did. David couldn’t stop looking at a bathing woman, and then couldn’t stop thinking about her. Peter exhibited compulsive behavior and would speak before he thought.

We all have issues…just like the people we meet in scripture.

And we are all promised grace that is extended regardless of what our issue is.

Just as we all have issues I’m sure there are people in the fellowship of the fallen who have issues with how easily God forgives…and that’s their issue!