Monday, August 31, 2009


“That’s funny”, came the voice amidst two or three giggles, as I stood in the mailroom sorting out binder-clips into three convenient size groups so that employees and administrative assistants could easily find what they needed.

More giggles and teasing came as she continued, “This is an absolute no-brainer!” I smiled, knowingly, and continued to sort them, grateful that I could laugh with her – this time! (Psalm 4:7)

In the midst of downsizing, after employees were laid off, we had been cleaning out desks, and recycling office supplies. The bin of unsorted binder clips was full and overflowing, plus the supply of new ones was getting low, and I would have to order new ones. I had procrastinated enough, I knew it was time to deal with them.

I was like a marathoner who had purposely run half of his course, knowing that he had no choice but to return, or call his wife to come and get him!

Knowing full well that the administrative assistant was a kind person, but who could be quite demanding when placed on a mission for her boss, I thought to myself, “If she is not that busy, she won’t be able to help herself – she’ll start to help!”

Sure enough, in a few moments she began to sort them with me, and laughing all the while. Soon she took a handful of the tiniest ones, and as she started to walk away, turned and said, “You know, this cracks me up! It’s a no-brainer! Sorting binder clips! It’s so different from financial “experts”, and the president of the company, haggling over budget, yet strangely similar! I really need to tell those number crunchers down there in the office to come down here and sort binder clips for a while! It would be so therapeutical!”

I thought, “You are right, the real issue is not the budget restraints, but whether you have resources or not. If you have the resources, and they need to be exchanged for what you really need, it is a no-brainer!” The real issue is not budget, but whether you have resources or not!

Knowing Jesus’ ability to command, a man in a crowd cried out to Him one day, telling him to make his brother share an inheritance with him. Jesus, knowing that neither sibling would want to do without, and that dividing it would make matters worse, said, “Man, who made me a judge or arbitrator over you?” Then he continued, saying, “. . .Take care, and be on your guard against all covetousness, for one's life does not consist in the abundance of his possessions.” (Luke 12:13-15 ESV)

James 4:1-3 indicates that passions are the problem – passions related to covetousness.

I thought my lesson was over, but some months later I found myself as a volunteer, sorting plastic-ware into packets in a “soup kitchen”. There had been too much waste. The person in charge said, “I am embarrassed to ask you, but do you mind doing this?”

As I said, “No, I don’t”, I realized that when you are serving others in love, and handling resources wisely, it deals a death blow to passions and covetousness! The Bible says that covetousness is really idolatry. (Colossians 3:5) I concluded that idolatry is a 21st century problem!

Thursday, August 27, 2009


A huge gust of wind caught the # 10 envelopes. They went flying on to the snow, and on to the road. Frantically I clutched the ones in hand, and tried to retrieve the rest.

Fear of the situation made it worse. It was the job I had been hired for. It was late on a winter day. Payroll and Vendor checks had to go out. I also was responsible to be back to close the telephone switchboard for the day. I didn’t need to jeopardize my job!

“It’s not my fault”, I whined to myself, cautiously making it a prayer. I had hoped for something different. After all, I was being paid for having things like this under control. I wasn’t doing too well!

An old leadership axiom came to my mind, “I had not planned to fail. I had failed to plan.” When I finally calmed down, I revisited that thought, and read it with new understanding. “Planning doesn’t, in itself, guarantee success, but facilitates a good response.” Situations are a part of life. Wisdom anticipates the worst, and plans accordingly. Our best planning will not always avert the entire crisis.

When caught in a windstorm, you don’t save the shingles that are already lying loose on the roof, about to fly off – you nail the ones that have one or two nails still intact, and then do all you can to protect the vulnerable ones. This has nothing to do with the difference in value, but it has everything to do with the windstorm, and preparedness.

It reminds me of the mother who left an older sibling in charge of younger children while she walked to a nearby grocery store. When she returned, she noticed all of the children playing with baby skunks. Anxious to avoid a stinking situation she cried, “Run!” They all grabbed a baby skunk and ran – not exactly what the mother had planned. She had known about skunks, but her children had not.

My job wasn’t perfect, my surroundings were not perfect, and neither was I!

I remember a pole barn in an Indiana town that had been built over a rapidly decaying building. It seemed odd to me until I realized there just was not room to build it alongside. Nor did they have sufficient time before winter to relocate all that was in the building. They reassessed their goals, and built around and over it.

I get the impression that God occasionally sends a crisis our way, that we might learn our helplessness, and His adequacy! As we obey Him, the “cup of life” that we have been given can be turned into a blessing for another. God’s strength shines in our weakness, and our own “cup of life”, to use a metaphor, is filled to overflowing with “new wine”!

Peter, strengthen your brethren – live a larger life, dependent upon Him! Luke 22:32

“Be watchful, strengthen the things that remain.” Revelation 3:2