Tag Archives: rule follower

Breaking Rules Isn’t the Problem

God used a book to make me aware of my people problem. I was sitting on the couch watching TV when something slammed against the front door. I jumped and saw the UPS man climbing back in his truck. Weird. I wasn’t expecting a delivery.

When I opened the door, there was a small cardboard package from Barnes and Noble with my name on it. Curious, I tore into it and found the book People Over Profit by Dale Partridge (the founder of Sevenly). But I didn’t order it. I never order my books from Barnes and Noble. Jonathan didn’t order it. It couldn’t be a review book—those always come directly from the publisher. I asked my boss if he sent it. (His response was, “No. Did you want me to?”) I even called Barnes and Noble. The lady on the phone was obnoxious—”I can see why it would be unsettling to get a book you don’t remember ordering. Did you check your credit card bill?” Uggh. There was no order number, no packing slip. She transferred me to a different department and then they hung up on me. Where the heck did the book come from?

peopleoverprofitI still don’t know. But since it was about the very same issue God was dealing with in my heart, I decided I needed to read it. It wasn’t life-changing, but there was so much wisdom. I think anyone who works with people—coworkers, clients, customers, church attendees, whatever—should read it. It was a quick, easy read full of practical advice:

“After all, the killer of quality is not efficiency. Rather, it’s the desire to do things at a pace that can only be achieved by compromising one’s values and mission” (pg. 36).

“How you make others feel about themselves says a lot about you” (pg. 63).

“The marketplace, left to itself, doesn’t see people” (pg. 64).

“When you say a company believes that people matter, it means they hold the following convictions: People are valuable. No Person is worth more than another. Every person deserves to be treated fairly and with respect. Organizations should be empathetic to all people they touch” (pg. 65).

“Too many companies treat their customers like a mere metric of profitability . . . they’ve begun operating as though customers exist to serve them rather than the other way around . . . A ‘people-matter’ organization works to make customers feel special and valued. They don’t just tell patrons that they want their business; they work to retain it” (pg. 67).

“Companies are good at valuing some of the people they touch, but few value all of them” (pg. 71).

“Companies that believe people matter must believe that all people matter” (pg. 72).

“We often forget that every organization is just a group of people–individuals with hearts, minds, desires, hopes, and feelings who are enlivened by a common mission” (pg. 75).

“By adopting “people-matter” principles and fusing them into an organization, companies can build a loyal tribe of individuals who will fight alongside their leaders and help build an unstoppable enterprise” (pg. 75).

“Authenticity is the act of telling people what you believe and care about, not telling them what you think they want you to believe or care about” (pg. 106).

“It requires bravery to accept who you are and stop trying to be what you think people want” (pg. 112).

“Quality isn’t what you say it is; it’s what they say it is” (pg. 124).

“Quality means listening, responding, and making changes quickly” (pg. 125).

“Look for ways to build the incredible into the ordinary . . . offer them the freedom to do for one what they wish they could do for all” (pg. 133).

“We should give because we love others, because we want to meet their needs, and because we believe that people matter” (pg. 138).

“Fear kills more dreams than failure ever will” (pg. 147).

“When you sense fear of the unknown, it’s often a sign you need to walk into, not away from, what is repelling you” (pg. 174).

Want to read more about my people problem? Check out these two posts: People Matter (more than rules) and I Don’t Follow the Rules.

I Don’t Follow the Rules

My boss’ gentle reminder to love people was just the start of many, many indications that I have a problem. After that conversation, symptoms started showing up everywhere—other people would talk about their struggles with the same issue, a pastor would preach about it, someone even sent me a book about it (more about that in my next post!).

I’ve learned that when God wants me to work on something, this is exactly how He gets my attention—He sends me the same message a thousand different ways until I notice the pattern and start to do something about it.

When I was praying about it, I felt the Holy Spirit nudge me to read what Romans says about grace and the law. I’ve read it a million times in hopes that I might figure out the mysterious and complicated relationship between God’s law and grace. I even took an entire class on the book of Romans in college.

Here are a few things I wrote in my journal after that reading:

“God, You’re challenging me to value people more than rules. You love them whether they follow the rules or not, and I should too. Why is it so hard to do? I like it when people follow the rules. I know what to expect. It gives me some control over the situation.”

Yikes. There’s that word: control. That’s another thing I struggle with.

“How do I love them? How do You?”

I really wanted God to tell me. I obviously had no clue.

“You love me even when I’m mean and manipulative. Even when I’m lazy and controlling and micromanaging. When I’m forgetful. When I’m petty. When I’m selfish. When I’m judgmental. When I’m wrong. Even when I’m ugly. Even when I’m fat.”

(Ugly and fat have more to do with my self-esteem issues, but that’s anther discussion entirely.)

“The law is useful for many things, but it’s not where my salvation comes from. And that’s how I’m supposed to love other people, too.

“It’s like Jesus’ death and resurrection and my salvation are God’s way of saying, ‘Hey, she’s not perfect, but I want her here anyway. I love working with her and she adds value to our team. I don’t expect her to get it right every time, but I trust her. I know who she is and what she stands for because she’s Mine. And that covers a multitude of mistakes.'”

When I realized God gives me the same kind of grace I try to give my coworkers, it became a lot easier to understand why and how to love people who don’t follow the rules.

Because I don’t follow the rules.

Blessed are those whose lawless deeds are forgiven, and whose sins are covered; blessed is the man against whom the Lord will not count his sin (Romans 4:7–8).

Even if we’re smart, even if we’re hard workers, even if we do everything right, we have God’s favor because of our relationship with Him. Following the rules is just icing on the cake. And it makes it a whole lot easier for Him to use us and convince others to work with us.

We don’t get God’s blessings because we follow the rules. We get them because He loves us.

People Matter (more than rules)

At my last job review, my boss reminded me that my job is ministry and I need to remember that when dealing with people. He was absolutely right. It’s something I forget, especially with the behind-the-scenes nature of my job.

After lots of thinking and praying about that conversation, I’ve realized something about myself: I love people . . . but only when they follow the rules.

I’ve been a rule-follower my whole life. Maybe it’s because I’m a first-born. Maybe it’s my personality. Maybe it’s because I don’t like conflict. Whatever the reasons, I’ve always been afraid of breaking the rules. So I’m excellent at following directions. And I’m great at doing everything someone asks for and more. But when other people don’t do that, I just can’t handle it.

Not long ago, a few people from our church needed my help to put an event together. It was on short notice and they had a lot of requests for things that should have been taken care of much, much sooner. It meant that I had to ask other departments for favors and apologize for lateness that wasn’t my fault. I didn’t like how it was making me look; I’d worked so hard to redeem the reputation of the youth department! Rather than suck it up and do everything I could to help, I got angry. I was less than helpful, complained a ton, and let everyone within earshot know that it was not my fault. I even sent an email to the organizers outlining every “rule” they were breaking and why I was having so much trouble pulling things together for them. Now, it wasn’t worded quite that harshly, but it’s not an email I’m proud of. (This ordeal may or may not have been the reason I got that bit of constructive criticism in my job review.)

Unfortunately, this is not the only example. I get irritated with people who don’t follow the rules of the road, grammar, and etiquette. And at the bowling alley . . . if I’m in the lane next to you and you throw your ball while I’m standing on the approach, you can bet I’m going to be super irritated. (Perhaps this is just me–my high school bowling team days were serious business.)

I’m not usually loud about my anger and frustration. In fact, I tend to be pretty passive aggressive about it—I’ll tell everyone but you that I’m annoyed. My heart is SO in the wrong place.

But God seems to be putting in overtime to teach me what seems like such a simple lesson: People matter (more than rules).

Check back later this week—I’m going to post some of the ways God has been teaching me that lesson.