Out of the Abundance of the Heart

Tuesday, March 24, 2014

Building People of Substance for Works of Power

Cut us some slack, Friend!

Recently I had the privilege of speaking at a minister’s conference in a very nice hotel. Outside the conference rooms were the rest room facilities. The men’s room was beautiful. The walls were stonework, the floors beautiful tile, and the fixtures the most modern, all were clean and sparkling. The faucets were automatically activated by infrared motion detectors, as were the towel and soap dispensers. It was all so nice! Clearly this facility had spared no expense to do things well. One small problem became apparent as the week wore on. The soap dispenser was located about a foot past the end of the countertop. This made it necessary for the person at the sink to reach to the side, hold his hand under the dispenser, and wait patiently for the squirt. Unfortunately, not everyone was familiar with the protocol. Many, myself included, failed to wait long enough, removing our hand just in time to see the soap squirt out on the floor. By mid-morning every day the tile under the dispenser was coated with liquid soap, providing a glorious opportunity for a slippery disaster. The place was beautiful, the equipment worked, but whoever placed the soap dispenser failed to take in to account human fallibility.

Here’s the problem: No matter how hard we work or how much money we spend, we still have our humanity to deal with. Several things occurred to me as I watched the soap spot, and marveled at the diligence and good nature of the employees who cleaned it up at regular intervals:

· In any project we undertake, we have to understand that there will be folks who don’t get it the first time. There will be soap spots on the floor. It is not intentional, but it is inevitable. We needn’t get upset, just be prepared to respond when human frailty trumps beautiful design.

· No matter how thorough I am and how hard I work, I will make mistakes. It is not my intention, but it is inevitable. It does not make me a bad or incompetent person. If I wait until nothing can go wrong, then that is what I will accomplish: nothing. I am human and that is OK.

· When I give a project to someone else, I can expect success to be a process of assessing, adjusting, and repairing. If their heart is right and they are willing to stay on task, we will get there. It is not intentional, but it is inevitable. They are human, and that is OK.

Grace is God’s antidote for human failure. God’s grace forgives failure. God’s grace corrects mistakes. God’s grace teaches new, more effective behaviors. God’s grace allows us to learn and grow. God’s grace sees the desired end while dealing with the messy present.

Scripture Reading: Blessed is the man whose strength is in You, Whose heart is set on pilgrimage. (Psalms 84:5 NKJV)

Somebody Said: The successful man will profit from his mistakes and try again in a different way. Dale Carnegie

The ongoing challenge of living as a flawed human surrounded by flawed humans, while trying to reach flawed humans, is to keep the goal in view as the process unfolds. Clean up the soap, move the dispenser, and cut everyone some slack, including yourself.



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