The Cost Of Having It Your Way

Whopper

We all enjoy having choices, because of this many successful businesses will allow consumers to have some say over process and product.  This isn’t something that is easy for a company to do, but they’re willing to do it because they know that it produces results:

Burger King offers The Whopper their way because they believe that this is the way that it tastes best.  They are also willing to take the additional time and effort to make it your way because they want you to not only purchase their burger, but also return to purchase more burgers over time.

They’re willing to set some preferences aside in order to develop a long-term relationship with you.

This is true in relationships outside of business as well isn’t it?

If I invite you to a go see a French movie, you have to decide whether or not spending time with me is more or less important than your distaste for foreign cinema.

To live in relationship with other people we will always have to set aside some of our preferences; this is because insisting on having things “our way”  always limits the depth and scope of our relationships.

A person who insists on having their preferences met is naturally limiting the amount of relationships that they will engage in.  This also means that they will also be limited in the amount of influence they will have in the lives of other people:

When we don’t care about people, they don’t seem to care what we want to do, or how think about things.

This means that self-centered people often have a difficult time appealing to the quality of their relationships as a way motivate people to help them or to join them in their endeavors.

They have little ability to demonstrate authority from a relational perspective.

The solution to this relational problem is to develop another kind of authority.  Through the demonstration of a skill or a talent they have to develop an authority that flows from their position in the community.  This is easily illustrated by our American affinity for celebrities.

Celebrities become effective spokespeople for products and politicians, not because of their relationship with us, but because of their status as an “exceptional talent”.  Their authority is not relational, it is positional.

We do the things they ask us to because we believe that they are better than us in some way.

Sometimes they can kick a ball.

Sometimes they can sing a song.

Sometimes they just have nice teeth.

We elevate people to positions of admiration, based on accomplishment, that allow influence regardless of relationship.  This means that selfishness is culturally permissible for people whom we choose to believe are exceptional.

To be fair, this isn’t necessarily something that is wrong with them.

We allow people to influence us based on skill and appearance, largely because they appeal to our sense of “what we wish we could be.”  If we love basketball, basketball players have positional influence over our life.  If we love music, musicians can have this same effect.

This means that people who lead people can actually take shortcuts to quickly attain high levels of influence. If you have an amazing ability, you can demand that people meet your preferences while completely disregarding theirs.

Good athletes can become coaches who don’t know how to teach.

Good singers can become worship leaders who don’t invest in people.

Good speakers can easily become pastors who don’t really care about human need.

The problem with these shortcuts is multifaceted:

1.) When this happens, people get hurt, especially in church ministry.  While there is a lot of physical work involved, ministry ultimately happens at a relational level.  People who love sports, theater, music, or theology, but don’t love people will ALWAYS end up hurting people in the name of sports, theater, music, or theology.

2.) The shortcut never lasts.  Hurting people eventually stop elevating people whose effectiveness is dissipating, regardless of talent, especially when they become a liability to the organization and lack relational capital.

What kind of leader do you want to be? Because the best leaders don’t have relational skills OR people skills, they are lovers of people who have developed great skills in order to serve them.

What skills are you working on?

Are they relational skills or technical skills?

Because it takes both to make a difference in someone’s life.

In 18 years of ministry the most important skill that I’ve identified is to stop demanding that other people meet my preferences.

It’s also the hardest skill I’ve ever had to begin developing.

It wasn’t really until I began this process of self-denial that the ministry I was attempting started to reflect God’s preferences more than my own.

To live in relationship with others we always have to set aside some of our preferences; this is because insisting on having things “our way”  always limits the depth and scope of our relationships.

This is ultimately true about our relationship with God  isn’t it?  We can demand to have our way, but when we do, we don’t really have a relationship with him.  There’s only one person who has preferences that must be met and isn’t he the one we’re ultimately serving?

We really can’t have things our way forever.

Trying to just comes at a terrible price…

…for everyone.

“Be very careful, then, how you live—not as unwise but as wise, making the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil.  Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the Lord’s will is.  Do not get drunk on wine, which leads to debauchery. Instead, be filled with the Spirit,  speaking to one another with psalms, hymns, and songs from the Spirit. Sing and make music from your heart to the Lord,  always giving thanks to God the Father for everything, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.  Submit to one another out of reverence for Christ.” –  Ephesians 5:15-21

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