Love People, Use Things


Success without honor and respect is no success at all.

We all have memories we wish we didn’t. For me, there’s the fuzzy memory of a face sitting at a desk in the back of my office at AT&T.  I don’t even remember her name.  She was an older lady and she was awful at her job. When you work for a monopoly all your life, you can lose perspective. “We ARE the phone company…the ONLY one in town” they used to say. This lady had drunk that Kool-Aid and couldn’t see the world any other way.

I fired her.

It didn’t matter that she was a few months from retirement or that she’d worked there virtually all her life. I never considered that the very organization she had served all those years had made her the way she was. She didn’t measure up. She was in the way. I was 30 years old, an MBA who wanted to make his numbers and get promoted again. I had the wisdom of a billy goat.

Without Christ in my life, it was all about achievement. People were just “things” I used to get what I really loved…success!

If you’ve walked with God any time at all, you’ve learned that He’s all about people. People are His highest and best creation. He loved us people enough to give us our freedom, even freedom to reject Him. (No other living thing has that capacity.)

And He even gave us a way to be redeemed from rejecting Him.  Jesus.

People and God’s Word are the only two things that pass from this world to the next. That’s how important people are to God.

I read the other day that life on earth is a conduit from birth to death. Every “thing” in our path from birth to death has purpose. It might be to bless us and remind us to be grateful. It may be to challenge us and help us grow, or to humble us or teach us empathy.

“Things” like tasks, goals, and objectives…all these are accomplished through people.  In organizations, we’re always people away from our objectives.

After surrendering my life to Christ, I learned a whole different approach to firing people. If someone wasn’t working out, it was my fault. If I’d hired them, I had missed it. If the organization hired them, then it was the organization’s fault. Either way, our job was to help them find another job….one that fit them better and they could succeed at. If we couldn’t find that job within the organization, we’d look outside. We weren’t through until that person was in another job somewhere.

People feel good about themselves when they do the right thing. I felt a lot better about the people we “outplaced” than those we just let go. Yes, it takes more time. And yes, it’s a lot of extra work and trouble. But at the end of the day, it’s nice to be able to go anywhere in your community and not be afraid of running into “him”….the guy you canned who didn’t take it very well and went without a job for a year.
People matter.  Jesus said what we do to people we do to Him. That’s pretty clear direction about how people should stack up in our priorities.

But what’s cool is when we pick good people and love & lead them well, a lot of the things we want come our way. We don’t love people just to get what we want…that’s manipulation. We love them because He first loved us and told us to go love others as ourselves. If the “things” come, they come. If they don’t, we still have Him.

…and a good reputation.

…and a lot of friends.
Question : Do you love things and use people? Or use things and love people?

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