Saturday, August 22, 2009

Paul, Imprisonment, and Management

In anticipating my transition from a walker to a commuter, I have been trying to identify pieces of my day that might be appropriate for incorporation into my morning or evening drive. Thursday and Friday, I started experimenting with listening to the Message on CD. I listened to Ephesians, Philippians, and part of Colossians several times as part of my trip to class on Thursday evening and Lafayette on Friday morning. I kind of had my doubts about listening instead of reading but have been pleasantly surprised by the insights.

One of the nice things about the Message version of the Bible is the introductions to each book. These are included on the CDs. I particularly enjoyed the introduction to Philippians. The introduction describes Paul's apparent happiness despite being imprisonment. Yet, the writer of this introduction unlocked something for me. The writer indicates that happiness is not something that can be learned out of a book. Instead, "something more like an apprenticeship is required, being around someone who out of years of devoted discipline shows us, by his or her entire behavior, what it is." By reading or listening to Paul's words, it seems obvious that Paul lived out a joy-filled life. Paul offers an example of what it means to live not necessarily by direct instruction but by simply being. I mean, here is this guy sitting in a prison. Yet, all he can thinking about are other people and their relationships with Christ. He writes, "I want to report to you, friends, that my imprisonment here has had the opposite of its intended effect. Instead of being squelched, the Message has actually prospered."

By example, Paul highlights the importance of relationships - leading others, serving others. Fast forward a day and I'm reading about managers:

"The Gallup Organization, which has polled millions of employees and tens of thousands of managers, has found that the single most important variable in employee productivity and loyalty isn't pay or benefits or workplace environment; it's the quality of the relationship between employees and the direct supervisors."

In living out his faith, Paul (a supervisor of sorts) developed deep relationships with people all over the place. Consequently, even his imprisonment could not squelch the productivity of the mission. Instead it prospered. Now that's a manager.

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