Are Boxes Getting In Your Way?

Rainy day here in southwest Michigan, but at least it is not snowing!

A friend of mine here at the ministry and I have had a conversation over the last couple of days about boxes.  Sounds dull right?  Actually it is about the boxes we tend to put people in at work.

It’s something most of us tend to do.  In a sense, it is a “shorthand” way of thinking about people – a way of categorizing them, it saves us time (at least it seems that way) and mental energy.  It is part of that first impression thing we do when we see someone, size them up and then say “Oh he (she) is a ___________” and then that tends to be the way we view them from then on – even if we have chosen the wrong box for them.

In a church, a ministry, or a non-profit that is compounded by the fact the so many of the people are so servant-hearted that they continue to serve faithfully without any comment in the wrong box.  We don’t realize that inside they often feel unfulfilled or are even frustrated.  For the organization, because we have put them in the wrong box, we may have someone who is only average at best at what they are doing, because if we took the time to get them into the right box we might have a star.  A win for the organization and for the person.

One example that happened to me was when I was the commander of an Army Reserve unit in Texas.  It was a unit of about 230 people and a good one.  However, the platoon sergeant of one of the largest platoons was not performing well and his platoon leader was asking me to relieve the sergeant of his duties.  In the military, being relieved of your position is often a career ending situation.  I was about to do so, when an older member of the unit asked me to give the sergeant a chance at a position of coordinating transportation for our heavy equipment.  It was an individual contributor’s position and not a leadership position.  Fortunately, I listened, reassigned the sergeant and he became a “star” for the unit.  The unit got better, the sergeant was happier, and I avoided damaging a man’s career.

The Lord has wonderfully created us as rich wonderfully complex human beings with tremendous potential under the empowerment of His Spirit.  My point is, that when you arbitrarily place someone in a “box”, you are doing your organization, yourself and the person a great disservice as you are taking a limiting view of your people. Learn your people and avoid the boxes.

Blessings on your day,

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