Today at The Gathering we talked about the second dumbest thing we do during down times. It’s called downsizing. We hear a lot about it as corporate America tries to adjust itself to the new realities of the wall-less, wireless, worn-out world.
The first thing we talked about were the three living landscapes that we all occupy during our lives:
1. The organizations that we work for and live in. Most everyone works in an organization. How big does it have to be? More than one. If you have two people you have to have some form of organization. Organizations are not bad, but oftentimes unattended and over time they calcify and lose their vitality.
2. The families we live in: ever-changing, adding, subtracting; sometimes joyful, other times dreadful. These families have a life cycle just like the organizations.
3. We also do life in what I call tribes. These are groups of people we associate with because we share a common passion; an idea. The Gathering is a tribe; a tribe of people who come together and want to help connect people to God and each other for the purpose of changing the world. The Gathering is a unique place. It’s for people who don’t feel comfortable in traditional, religious environments. They want something fun, exciting, and practical; a place where people are accepted for who they are and loved through their pain; where judgment is replaced with acceptance, where condemnation is replaced with compassion. We find our tribes, and we stick with them.
The interesting thing is as we advance through these three environments or landscapes, some predictable things happen.
1. We accumulate stuff.
2. We attach value to those things; emotional value that stays long after they’ve outlived their usefulness. It’s like a suit that you bought and love, but you’ve out grown and you can’t wear it, but you don’t want to throw it away because it has sentimental value.
3. We avoid the brutal truth. The accumulation of stuff and the emotional attachment to that stuff over time results in bloating. We just have too much stuff to carry around. And the decision we face is, do I change or continue on the same course I’m on, which eventually leads to death?
We talked about the two options: The option to downsize, which basically has four characteristics.
1. We conduct an irrational cost-cutting crusade regardless of effectiveness and productivity.
2. We turn inward and attack people’s motives; why they don’t work hard and why they’re not as successful as they once were.
3. We sever trusted connections in order to conserve cash on hand, realizing that the greatest cash we have on hand is the trusted relationships we’ve developed.
4. We ride the organization, business, church, or family down, siphoning all the resources that we can and jump ship just before it crashes. And we blame the economy, the government, anyone but us.
The Bible offers a different option to downsizing. It’s called right-sizing. We dealt with the Old Testament story of Gideon and how he started out with 52,000 men and God pared it down to only 300; three hundred men who he knew he could trust in battle. So in the effort to right-size, you can ask yourself four questions.
1. What are we doing here? Oftentimes we show up in activities that have long since lost their mission.
2. Who are we doing it for? Often we do it for other people who are doing the same thing we do. We’re trying to impress other widget-makers rather than the people for whom the widgets are made.
3. Who do we need to be great? The word great here is used on purpose. You can take average people and with great leadership they can do good work. But average people, no matter how great the leadership will never do great work. So you need to ask yourself, “Who are the people we can go into battle with?” As God told Gideon, “You have too many people. You don’t need 52,000 people; you need 300.”
4. Why does it matter? God told Gideon that if he went into the battle with a huge army and they won, they’d take the credit. So the question is, why does what we do matter? Why does what you do matter. You have to answer that question, because if you don’t, there is no place to hide in the brave, new, wall-less, wireless world.