Synchronicity Too

Had you taken the S.A.T. during the 1982-83 school year, you’d have only had two options available as answers to this question:

“Who is the worlds greatest rock band?”
A.)  Van Halen
B.)  The Police

If your No.2 pencil darkened the letter “A” on your scan-tron, both you and Jeff Spicoli would have been correct.  If you chose the letter “B”, Cameron Crowe might have paid your way through Stanford.

Literate, tasteful, and artistic, The Police were a thinking man’s pleasure, and in the early 80’s college students, college professors, and college janitors all agreed that they were creating the world as we would soon know it.   The Police made their name as a punk inspired trio that trafficked in jazz-tinged, white reggae the way Lando Calrissian traded favors with Darth Vader.

This was until Bassist/Vocalist/Narcissist Sting became a household name. Sting spoke like a philosopher, sang like an angel, looked like a model, and made barefoot awesome again.  His success as a pop icon initiated a musical tragedy of operatic proportion.

In the winter of 1983 the Police began work on “Synchronicity”, an album that left behind their reggae styling in favor of synthesized textures, orchestral arrangements, and ambient soundscapes.

It would be their final studio album.

“Synchronicity” wasn’t just a departure from The Police’s musical norms; it was also a departure from how they worked as a band.  Sting arrived at the sessions with pre-written songs that he demanded form the bulk of the record.  He also demanded the songs be performed and recorded HIS way.  Arguments came to blows.

The friction ensured that none of the members played any of the songs in studio together.  Each part of every song was recorded individually and put together like a jigsaw puzzle under the watchful eye of Sting and the studio engineer.

They built a masterpiece.

Released on June 1, 1983, “Synchronicity” spent 13 weeks at number 1.  Sting had gotten what he wanted.  He was right, he didn’t need to waste his time listening to anybody else. His songs were better than everyone else’s songs, his ideas were better than everyone else’s ideas…

… and his band was angrier than anyone else’s band.

There was nothing left for the Police but to break up, they barely finished the tour that followed the album.  Sometimes getting what you want proves to be the undoing of everything you had hoped for.  There’s a similar story about this kind of leadership in the book of Judges Chapter 8.  It’s the story of Gideon.

God called Gideon to lead his people out from under their oppressive masters and Gideon begins a process of deciding if he will do this. God would tell Gideon to do something and Gideon would respond, “if this is true then show me a sign, in the morning make the floor wet and the rug dry.” later he’d say, “make the rug wet and the floor dry.” God obliged Gideon, not because he had to, but because he was using the process to build a relationship with Gideon.

God gave Gideon and his soldiers a victory as improbable as defeating Justin Beiber at the Grammy’s and everyone decided that they wanted Gideon to become their king.

…Gideon told them, “I will not rule over you…The LORD will… I do have one request, give me from your share of the plunder… they spread out a garment… each man threw a ring onto it… Gideon made the gold into an ephod… Israel prostituted themselves by worshiping it, it became a snare to Gideon and his family…

Between the prostitution and the snaring, you don’t need to know what an Ephod is to know this isn’t good.  Scripture tells us an Ephod was a ceremonial garment worn by Hebrew priests.  It was a linen vest with a golden breastplate decorated with 12 precious stones.  The most remarkable element of the ephod was a pocket located behind the breastplate containing two stones used to divine God’s will in difficult situations.  One stone represented “yes”, one “no”.  The priest would ask God a question and then reach into the pocket, trusting God to lead his hand to the correct indicator.

For Gideon, an Ephod was the quickest way of knowing God’s will without having to do the work of going back and forth with God.  Gideon wanted to know what God desired of him, but he wanted to do it by “shortcutting” the process he had become accustomed to.  Gideon misunderstood that what he viewed as “work” was actually living in relationship with God.  Taking a shortcut to get what he wanted provided a tragic twist; cheating everyone out of what they actually needed.

When leaders shortcut necessary processes in favor of efficiency, they often appear to get what they want more quickly than normal.  The problem with this isn’t that the job gets done quickly, it’s that the job gets done without bringing the necessary relationships along.

Getting what we want for people isn’t the prime goal of leadership, getting the right people to the right goal is.  When we grasp this truth we not only become less frustrated with processes, but the synchronicity of arriving at the right place with all of the right people becomes a better standard for success than project completion.

What processes frustrate you or your leaders the most?

One Response to “Synchronicity Too”

  1. Sharon O February 16, 2011 at 8:52 pm #

    I get frustrated when others ‘play’ church and not really ‘let it sink in’ who God really is how he moves within the hearts of those who serve and love him.

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