Thursday, January 15, 2015

Playing the Game of Transition

For the past 3 years I have served as treasurer of an organization. Since I moved to a new position on the board, a new treasurer was named and we went through the process of transitioning the responsibilities, files and bank signatures.

To be honest, I really thought I'd be delighted to relinquish the books. But, as we sat in the banker's office and I watched while she deleted my name from the account and destroyed the debit card I had guarded for three years, I felt like I had just adopted out my baby.

The new treasurer is a young capable guy and I know the books will be in good hands. But releasing something you've controlled for so long is not easy. Will he be as conscientious as I was? What if he changes the way I did things? Does he think he's smarter? Will I feel less capable with someone else at the reins? Or (worse) what will the board think about the young fresh breath of air compared to the stale way things had been done for three years?

I suppose a lot of people struggle with similar thoughts during transitions. Kenny Rogers  knew what he was talking about when he sang, "You've got to know when to hold 'em, know when to fold 'em. Know when to walk away, know when to run . . ." Of course, Kenny was talking about the game of poker. But, there's a great principle buried in those lyrics. I didn't run from the treasurer's position. It was just time to fold 'em and move over to a new responsibility so someone else could step up and hold 'em.

How do we know when it's time to walk away from a responsibility? When our mission is accomplished and someone else is ready to replace us. In fact, the Jenga game holds the secret.

Jenga contains 54 tiles stacked three across, making a tower 18 stories (tiles) high. The object of the game is to carefully move one tile at a time and restack it at the top of the tower without the entire structure collapsing. If the game is played correctly, the structure will double its height to 36 stories. (The current record is a rebuilt Jenga tower measuring 40 stories high.)

The key in moving a Jenga tile is to gently touch it to see if it's movable. If the tile is loose, the player carefully removes it from its lower spot to a position at the top of the tower. The process continues until all of the pliable pieces have been relocated and those remaining serve as solid support from below for the newly-positioned tiles.

We will know when to relinquish a position when someone else is pliable and ready to move up. Sometimes our only responsibility is to serve as the solid support for our replacement, which is just as important as serving in the actual position. If we play our cards right by knowing when to "hold" and when to "fold", the organization/team/ministry can substantially increase its effectiveness as it grows higher, thanks to the fresh resources that were pulled from the bottom and relocated to the top.

The most valuable benefit is that EVERYONE grows in the process. Those delegated to a new position at the top can express creativity and fresh ideas. Those remaining at the base become stronger as they flex their muscle in support of others.

Wherever you are--top or bottom--play the game right.

Thursday, January 1, 2015

A New Year Reset

During a recent visit with my daughter and son-in-law I casually mentioned that I was having trouble updating my  iPhone. "No problem," my daughter said. "Josh can help you with that. He loves technology." A little warning bell went off in my mind that the wonderful relationship I have with my son-in-law might be jeopardized if he started probing into my technological limitations and realized how lame his mother-in-law really is.

You see, my iPad, iPhone and laptop are like self-destructive weapons in my hands. No doubt any Malware on my computer entered through a door that I opened myself.  I have a love/hate relationship with my equipment; and, if they could talk, I'm sure the iPad, iPhone and laptop would say the feeling is mutual.

However, I was desperate for help so I asked Josh to come to my electronic rescue. Within just a few minutes, we both knew we were in trouble when he began asking questions.

  • When was the last time you updated your phone? [I can't remember the last time]
  • How did these other programs start running on your computer? [Ummm - what programs?]
  • What happened to ITunes? [Why? Is it gone?]
His diagnosis and recommendations: (1) If your phone doesn't update, we may have to reset it, which means you might lose some data. I'm sure you've saved everything to the Cloud, right? [gulp] (2) Somehow unknown programs have invaded your computer. Some of them are pretty stubborn. We need to do some uninstalling. Just be careful from now on, o.k.? (3) Your phone is updated through ITunes. And, since ITunes has somehow been deleted from your computer, we need to reinstall it.

It was a long, arduous process with several glitches along the way. I noticed he used his properly-running equipment to make queries and searches for information so my equipment could function with equal ease.

Later that evening I enjoyed my updated phone and faster-running computer, and I blessed Josh for his concern and patience. But, apparently he wasn't satisfied. A couple of days later he and my daughter presented me with a brand new laptop. He spent another day transferring data from my old "relic" to the new laptop punctuated with periodic warnings about unknown and uninvited malicious programs that can cause more harm than good.

It's amazing the effect a brand new shiny laptop has on how a person performs and thinks. Suddenly I find myself being extremely careful with how I use it, especially making sure that nothing uninvited finds its way into my pristine machine.

You see, it was a gift and I want to treat it as such.

The new year may be a good time for a reset in life. Ponder this:

  • When was the last time you let God update your mind? Can't remember? It's o.k. if some data gets lost in the renewal process. ("Be transformed by the renewing of your mind" Romans 12:2.)
  • What unknown "programs" have invaded your life? God is the perfect antivirus to warn about and remove malicious software. ("[God] will protect me from trouble" Psalms 32:7.)
  •  What happened to your "iTunes"? Let God reinstall your joy. ("He put a new song in my mouth" Psalms 40:3).
And if you think you're an old relic, God will perform a brand new work if you'll let Him. "If anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come!" 2 Corinthians 5:17.

You'll be amazed at how differently you'll think, talk and act. It's a gift. Enjoy it.

Happy NEW Year!