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Friday, April 18, 2014

The Awful Truth About My Workplace Leadership, Part IV

These little rants are written as though addressed to elements of my company's leadership.  If you want to know more, look for the introduction to part I.

*****

I swear, I am going to get to some more interesting stuff, stuff about how you treat your people, the way you hire people, the "Muskogee Mafia," a certain kind of monitor that cost us about--oh, I think it was about half a million over ten years, even though it was utterly USELESS, most of them literally sitting in boxes for years and years, and was a huge waste of the money that little old people leave our organization in their wills.  I am going to get to all of that.  But you keep doing things on a day to day basis that make me say, "I can't leave that out. It's so bizarre.  Too 'good,' in a way, or 'bad,' in another way, not to mention."
 
Sooooooooo...let's talk about payroll.  Just for today.

I get paid by direct deposit.  For years, my "check" has hit the bank about five in the morning.  So I was a little surprised to see my balance basically unchanged by six a.m., but I didn't panic.  Maybe they just ran a little bit late this time, I thought.  But when I checked again about ten and didn't see it, I went to the boss.

Turned out you hadn't managed to get OVER NINETY HOURS OF MY TIME on that check!  All you had put on it was the pittance you pay for me being "on call" (and it is not industry standard, by the way, not by a long shot, hasn't changed in years and years and years)!  You didn't know what happened, you said, and you got right on it, and sure enough, by late afternoon, I was able to drive across town, pick up a check, and go deposit it. 

Good thing I didn't have anything on auto-draft, wasn't it?  Good thing neither the payroll place nor the bank had shut down early for Good Friday, wasn't it? But one of the reasons I don't have anything on auto-draft is that I've seen you characters in action for more than ten years.
 
How often you've screwed up my paychecks depends on how you count incidents.  Was the time where you forgot to put my raise on my checks for four solid months one incident, or eight (two-week pay periods)? (And by the way, you can see what a pittance the raise was--I hadn't noticed its absence from my checks!)  Was the time where you screwed up putting another raise on my checks for three successive pay periods (each time you said, "It'll  be on the next check!") one incident, or three?  And then there are the times where you just made it clear that you can't be counted on to add or subtract.  All of this has made me watch my checks very closely, believe you me!

Nor am I the only one.  I am not dealing with pay, per se, here, not in the sense of how much you pay.  I'll get to that in another post.  But you can take it to the bank: if you go to your long-term people, your key people, the people who have been around for a while, and ask them, "Have they ever screwed up your pay?" you will be astonished at the number of people that roll their eyes and say, "Yeah!  Duh!" I am not making this up.  Sometimes I think you people think I don't talk to anybody because I spend so little time talking to you.  But that's not the case.  I don't talk to you any more than I have to because I'm afraid what I really think will slip out.  I do talk to just about everyone else I meet across the system, and I hear a lot that you people think everyone's forgotten, or maybe never noticed in the first place.  I hear the outrageous stories.  I know what a deep-seated loathing there is for our leadership team throughout our system.  So, yeah, I've heard people talk about your payroll screwups.

You're infamous for it.  Everyone in the organization knows that getting people's paychecks right simply isn't a priority for you.  And that stinks on ice.  If there is one obligation pretty much everyone acknowledges bosses to have, it's getting people's checks to them right and on time.  I'm an old guy, see, and I have worked for a number of different companies.  And you know what?  None of them ever screwed up my pay.  Not once.  I worked for one firm for fourteen years and they never screwed up my pay.  I worked for another for four and they never screwed up my pay.  But you guys?  I think if I said you'd screwed up my pay ten times in ten years, I'd be giving you too much credit.

You outsourced your payroll recently.  I wonder if it was as the result of complaints?  If so, it took too long.  And furthermore, you're still not getting it right.  And lastly, think this kind of thing might contribute to people's "negative attitudes"?

Naaaaaaahh...couldn't be.  It's never the bosses' fault, is it?

Thursday, April 17, 2014

MMMMBBWWWWAAAHHHAAAHAAA!! Or The Continuing Misadventures of My Workplace Leadership, Part III

Mercy.  I have so much more to tell you about my workplace leadership.  There are still hairs on your head that need curling and, I promise you, some of what I have to say will curl hair on the baldest head.  But today I must gloat.  The following is written as though to my immediate superior.

*****

You know, boss, I really could not have set this day up any better if I had scripted it.  Two weeks ago--three, as of Monday--you pulled me aside to lecture me on my attitude.  You told me I came across as condescending and mean, as uncaring.

And, after an appropriate show of faux contrition on my part (for I didn't believe a word of it), you told me that, after ten years with the company, and five years after the New Person's Class was started, you were sending me to the next one.  I'll pass over the content of the class for now (but I will cover it in a future post!  I promise!), but I'll say that to this second, I do not know if you scheduled me for that class for punishment, or if you did it because you thought it might straighten out my alleged negative attitude, or if you'd been told to do it by your superiors.

What I do know is that you did not expect me to be lionized in front of the audience as the "Shining Star" honoree.  I do know that you did not expect the president and vice-president of the company to spend about ten solid minutes publicly praising me for my intelligence, quick wit, and--most satisfying of all--my LEGENDARY AND CONTAGIOUS POSITIVE ATTITUDE.  You did not expect that my contributions to the class would be repeatedly singled out for praise by them.  You did not expect the president of the company  to declare, basically, that he thought I was one of the smartest and best-informed men he had ever met.  You did not expect that every company official in attendance would come away tremendously impressed with my knowledge, bearing, and attitude.

I know, because when you asked me how the class went, your face went from its usual artificial smile to absolutely blank within one second flat--and then you left the area.  I could not have been more satisfied if I'd been Mordecai being paraded around by Haman.

Let's see you top that.

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

The Awful Truth About My Workplace Leadership, Part II

These little rants are written as though addressed to elements of my company's leadership. If you want to know more, look for the introduction to part I.

 ****** 

 Well, I was going to talk a bit about how you accused me a couple of weeks ago of having (first) a "negative" attitude, then of sounding "condescending" and "mean." And I may do that yet, if I get time. But this morning, at our weekly meeting, you made my jaw drop. Metaphorically speaking, that is. You didn't see anything but me smiling and you didn't hear anything but me agreeing.

 What did you do? You lectured your entire crew, first, on being present and on time. Now, I am not knocking those things. They are important in the workplace. No denying it. But considering, Sir, that it's you that hired the recovering--well, not so recovering--pill-popper and boozer who keeps missing--oh, I'd say three or more days a month, and is late other times, and you've kept him on for well over a year now in spite of this, exactly what are you going to say to the office ladies who are sometimes twenty minutes late because of something involving their kids? Are you going to discipline them and let the other guy get off scot-free? I don't think that's going to fly, and no one believes you're going to discipline the other guy, because the reality is that attendance issues aside, he is so good at his job that nothing ever suffers when he's absent! He's always ahead! Besides that, you hired him to replace that ex-live-in girlfriend you'd hired, and then unjustly fired. Won't look good if it turns out you would have been better off keeping your ex-girlfriend, will it?

 Amazingly, you were apparently so ticked off at him being absent Monday that you spent time going over almost two years of old time sheets, just so you could tell us all how long it'd been since the entire crew was present and on time for a whole week.

 Productive use of your time, wasn't it? Oh, I know you thought it made your point, and in a way, it did. It also made you look a petulant horse's rear and, I promise you, made every single person in the place who's ever been late because of a child, because of car trouble, because they were stuck behind a train, because there was a wreck on the turnpike between here and the small town where they live, madder than an old wet hen. It made you look ineffectual, because, after all, it's you that has put up with it. And nobody believes you'll do anything about it, either. Why should they?

 Having accomplished the by no means small feat of ticking off your entire staff with your first words of the meeting, you then lectured your entire crew on having good attitudes! It was nothing short of amazing. Either you think nobody on your staff has a good attitude, or you are unwilling to confront the women on your staff about their bad attitudes one by one (You have, of course, already lectured me and the other guy about our alleged bad attitudes). You don't come out looking good no matter how you slice this. You either have a talent for serially hiring people with bad attitudes, or you make people with good attitudes into people with bad attitudes (this would be my bet), or you see bad attitudes where none exist (also very likely), or you haven't the anatomical features necessary to confront women with bad attitudes.

 Really. Did it not even occur to you to ask yourself how likely it was that everyone else in the building had bad attitudes, whilst you did not? Doesn't the answer reveal itself as soon as the question is asked?

 Couple of more things, small things, but this is my rant: First thing this morning, you asked me to spray Febreze all over myself. I had--God forbid--smoked a quarter-pipeful of tobacco on my morning drive. Now, the fact that you think my tobacco reeks wouldn't bother me, except for two things: (1) It doesn't, or at least not as bad as cigarettes. I've asked the others. (2) You never ask the cigarette smokers to Febreze themselves, and those nasty cigarettes leave a worse smell than my pipe does, any day of the week. Not to mention the butts they leave outside the doors. You are just being ridiculous. It is just one more of your efforts to take me down a peg. You want to take me down a peg because...well, I may touch on that in another post.

 Second: you made sure to tell me to wash the van and go to special effort to make sure all bug guts were off my windshield, because I am driving the van to New Person's Class tomorrow. What the shale? It's not that I mind doing it--takes me five minutes to run the van through the wash and a few more with some Windex for the windshield, after all--it's that it was bizarre. The van wasn't dirty. Nobody would look at it and say it was dirty. I asked people. And what do you think is going to happen when I show up for class? Do you think that everyone in attendance is going to pile out and come look at my work van? Do you think the campus administrator is going to come out and inspect it? Even if they did, nobody would say it was dirty. Even the interior is clean. I keep it empty of debris and wipe the thing down about once a week. Again, not that I mind the washing. Not that I don't want the van clean, too. It's that utterly weird connection you made between getting the van cleaned and going to that class. Weird because they have not the slightest thing to do with each other. It's like telling me,"You've got class tomorrow. Make sure you do the dishes."

 You know, I initially just told our other driver that story. Then later, when the office ladies looked out the front doors and saw me cleaning my windshield, they asked her about it, and she told them what you had said. According to her, the universal reaction was, "He said what?" So it's not just me. It really was weird. But that's part for the course for you these days, isn't it? Most of us came to the conclusion some little time back that there's something wrong with you. It's gone way beyond just being a jerk. You keep doing and saying bizarre crap that nobody understands. But of course, as far as you're concerned, you are just fine. It's everyone else that needs an attitude adjustment.

 Right?

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

The Awful Truth About My Workplace Leadership, Part I

Well, for the longest time, I have been steamed at my place of employment.  I am hardly the only one.  All across our system, people are steamed.  I am in a position to know.

But I can't do much about it.  I don't want to quit right now; I have a few small personal matters I want to tend to and keeping this job for a little while longer will suit me.  Also, the job market stinks on ice, as everyone knows.  So there's that.

But I do want to vent a bit, and--lucky you!--for various reasons, I have kept notes of some of the more outrageous things over the years.  I think I am going to make a series of posts about them.  I will alter names, dates, places, and subject matter enough to disguise who I am and where I work.  The very small number of people who already know who I am and where I work will not give me away. Many will find it immature and boring, but I will enjoy writing the rants.

These little rants will be written as though addressed to my company leadership.  Today's is short.  I hope you enjoy it.

Why don't I just quit, you ask?  Like I  say, I have my reasons. Plus, I like the job. It's the leadership that has me ready to pull out my hair.

******

Well, you've finally seen fit to send me to New Person's Class.  It's kind of funny.  I'm sure you would deny that sending me now, five years after they started giving these classes, and more than ten years after I started with the company, is related to the alleged attitude problem that you've given me you've recently accused me of having, and the lecture about which I've already meekly absorbed.  I'm sure you would remind me that when they started having these classes, I was told then that everyone would eventually have to take it, no matter whether they'd been with the Company five weeks or five years.

And they did say that.  I remember.  I think the unique demands of my weirdo schedule--and let's not forget that you set my schedule--made it practically impossible for me to attend, and everyone just kind of forgot about it.  But now that you've scheduled me to take the class in a few days, a few memories come to mind.

For instance, I remember why they started these classes in the first place.  We had high turnover throughout the system (Though the administrators, if you asked them directly, would deny this. "Oh, MOTW, we have a wonderful turnover rate," even though it was a running joke throughout the system at the time.) and it was hoped that the New Person's Class would slow turnover, give everyone a sense of being on the same team, a sense of our "mission."  This did no good, of course, because you have no idea what you're doing half the time and that kind of thing makes it hard for anyone to have a real sense of "mission."  Plus, your repeated habit (to be detailed in other posts) of royally screwing your employees makes it hard for them to feel like part of a team, class or no class.

At any rate, turnover is still high.

Another thing I remember: you have facilities in multiple places throughout the state, but for the first two or three years, the classes were offered only in the City!  Yes, you made your poor low-level staffers, people making just 8.50 an hour, drive a hundred and fifty miles in some cases, just so they could listen to you characters congratulate yourselves and tell them how well you treat your people.  Really.  It took you two or three years to start offering the classes in another part of the state, and even now, some people from some facilities still have to drive more than 90 minutes so they can partake of the wondrous rapture that was prepared, if I recall correctly and I think I do, by one of your little office drones that has never actually been in the field and done the kind of work that we do.

You thought you were building team spirit with that?  No, what you were building--adding on to, really, you've been building it for years and years--was a sense of resentment and a deep-seated conviction that you were a collection of clueless horse's rears.  I know.  I've been all over the system and talked to people.

You know,speaking of that negative attitude you accused me of having, it'll be interesting to see how they handle that. You see, I also know that people used to see me in the class material. It seems I am a legend in customer service. It seems, according to some (including some of you), that I am "the most beloved employee in the system." So I wonder if my smiling face is still in the class material. It would be rich if it is.

Oh, don't worry.  I'll go, and I guarantee you'll be told later, if you ask, that I was tremendously enthusiastic and a positive element in the class.

Or didn't you know?  Acting runs in the family.

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Back Again

It's been months since I last posted anything.  It's not that I haven't had things to write; it just hasn't been convenient.  My desktop died, my workplace blocks Blogger (Only God knows why), and I find it inconvenient to type anything of any length on my daughter's notebook or my wife's Chromebook.  The inter-relatedness of much of what I've been reading and thinking about hasn't helped.  Some of the things I've been thinking about touch on other things I've been thinking about in such ways that it is difficult to talk about one subject without talking about, or at least making reference to, others. I didn't like the thought of putting together monster posts that tried to cover way too much.

But it turns out I can't keep my mouth shut; things that should have wound up here, where I enjoy a relative amount of anonymity, and where I can make cloaked references to organizations for the sake of illustration without members of those organizations ever having much of a clue (if any) that I am doing so and getting all honked off about it, wound up in other forums, doled out sentence by sentence.  The fact that I never used names, that I would generally talk about things in general ways, turned out not to be enough.

I shouldn't have been surprised.  If you get annoyed (for example) at a goofball approach to music ministry, reflect that it's epidemic throughout the Southern Baptist Convention, and that it's produced, overall, negative results, all that may be true, and it may never mention your church, but it doesn't require an Einstein for a member of your church to figure out that your inspiration for the comment came from observing the shenanigans at your church.

That wasn't smart.  Oh, every scrap of it was true.  But it still wasn't smart.

Well, I won't be making comments like that in other forums anymore, and the one or two readers I have here, if they know where I go to church at all, will be able to take comments that I make here as illustrative, as I generally intend them to be.

I've heard a lot of horsequeeze lately, and I don't deny that I'm frustrated, so much so that I'm finding it difficult to hold my peace, so I've decided to start writing at work, saving it to a flash drive, and uploading it to Blogger when I get a crack at my daughter's notebook.

I've never had but a handful of readers here, and of those few, of the few that know or suspect who I am, remember this:

It's true that I vent sometimes, especially about what's going on in the North American church, the Southern Baptist Convention, and even my own church.  Sometimes it seems to me that all of them are in the grip of some kind of collective insanity.  Leadership seems deranged to the point of being psycho and members seem unable to discern this and wind up mindlessly defending what should be considered indefensible.  If you're one of those members, one of those people, and what I say here upsets your applecart, please remember this much: I am not trying to destroy any of those institutions.  In fact, my great fear is that they are on the verge of suffering very great damage, and all I am trying to do is throw some thoughts out there for the handful of people that might consider them.

Sunday, November 18, 2012

More Thoughts on Christian Liberty

I have to admit that some of the things I've heard lately about Christian liberty have bothered me more than a little bit--and no, it's not just because if I gave in to some people's thinking, I'd be giving up my daily glass of red wine and pipeful of tobacco.  It'd be easy for some people to think that, and in fact, I'd bet dollars to donuts ('cept that'd be gambling) that it is precisely what some of my critics do think.  But it's deeper than that.

As I put it to my Sunday School class the other day, a rather large part of me is growing increasingly concerned over what I have almost come to see as a spineless, wimpy, apologetic approach to Christianity--and by "apologetic" I most emphatically do not mean "concerned with making the case for."  I mean, in case it's unclear, an approach to the doctrine and practice of Christianity that makes it sound as though it were something to be ashamed of, something to be apologized for, rather than the very truth of God!

I'm also concerned that a large group of Christians, many of them in leadership positions, are, for whatever reasons, spending time trying to convince or even coerce other Christians into making concessions that they have no business whatever making.

Over and over again, I see the case being made that we should give up our liberty to do this or partake of that, on the grounds that:

A) We don't actually have liberty to do that, it's a sin...even though I can't cite Scripture to prove it...I just know it, dadgummit, okay? Oh, you want a verse?  You actually want me to prove my case from the Bible?  That's awfully petty of you, don't you think?

B) There might be a "weaker brother" out there...somewhere...maybe.

C) We might look "worldly."

D) I just have this feeling this might be one of those things Jesus is calling you to give up...no, no, I don't have a verse, I just have a peace about it...

E) Exercising your liberty in that fashion causes dissension, and we're supposed to be unified.

F) Speaking up for your liberty to do that causes even more dissension.  You should give up on your position for the sake of unity.  No, I don't think I should have to give in on my position.  What could have possibly put such a thought in your head...sinner?

Well, "reasons" such as those could be multiplied endlessly--and no, these are not straw men, I've actually heard this kind of pap more than a few times--and I'm less concerned about them than I am the motivations behind them.  It's easy to give a perfectly reasonable response to each of these reasons.  That's not the problem.

I'd say the problem, or at least a big part of the problem, is that upon being given perfectly reasonable responses to these and other objections, not a few of my Christian brothers and sisters will still not be neither content nor convinced.  They will simply bring up another objection, only to have it answered, and another, and another, and they will never admit that they were wrong.  Instead, they will grow annoyed with me and start twisting verses and insinuating all sorts of things.  They're so interested in controlling my (or someone else's) behavior that they cannot think rationally upon the subject in question.

When did we get to the point where no one defends Christian liberty?  How did we wind up in a place where it's sometimes actually seen as selfish and inappropriate to do so? Why are we always to assume that Christian liberty is something that we can have, but must never exercise?  Why is it always the people who are striving with all their might to constrict the exercise of Christian liberty who must be accommodated?

How has modern Christianity become all "taste not, touch not," and no "We did not yield to them in submission for even an hour"?

Why is it that no one seems willing to say to such people, "You're full of stewed prunes, you're not a weaker brother, you just can't stand it that I don't agree with you, and you need to mind your own business"?  To those who would reply that that is insufferably rude, I cannot agree.  People who are trying to restrict others' behavior without any clear Biblical warrant for doing so have not the slightest bit of room to criticize others for rudeness.

Why do you not see that your refusal to mind your own business is every bit as much an affront--MORE SO--than others' refusal to bend to your will?

Listen to Paul, in 2nd Corinthians, contrasting the way the false teachers treat the flock with his own behavior:
For you gladly put up with fools, since you are so smart!  In fact, you put up with it if someone enslaves you, if someone devours you, if someone captures you, if someone dominates you, or if someone hits you in the face.  I say this to our shame: we have been weak.
Paul is sarcastically--note, by the way, that Paul was not afraid to use sarcasm--saying that he was too "weak" to do these things, of course--too "weak" to "enslave," to "devour," to "capture," to "dominate," to hit someone in the face.  But in the process, he is noting that these behaviors are characteristic of the false teachers!  They "enslave," that is, they deprive of liberty.  They "dominate," that is, they tell other people what to do when they have no business doing it. And so on.

They sound disturbingly reminiscent of some of our Southern Baptist brethren, and for some reason, people are terribly loathe to call them out on it--or even to mention their behavior in abstract.

And just as clearly, Paul is implying, if not saying outright, that the Corinthians shouldn't put up with behavior like that from their teachers!  They shouldn't put up with someone dominating them, depriving them of their liberty, and so forth!

It's one thing to have iced tea instead of a Samuel Adams' Cream Stout when you're in the company of a brother who's a recovering alcoholic.  It's another thing entirely to acquiesce when some teetotaling, bluenosed busybody who wouldn't touch a drop of any sort of liquor at gunpoint piously tells you that he's a "weaker brother" and demands that you not only not drink around him, but that you don't drink anywhere, anytime lest he be tempted beyond endurance by the mere thought of you having a glass of wine sometime in your life.  One is loving and merciful; the other is shamefully cowardly and weak.

And the modern North American church is eaten up with this sort of thing.  I can't remember the last time I heard anyone say or write anything along the lines of, "With love, brother, I really think you ought to just mind your own business on this."

No wonder the North American church is barely holding its own, if that.  We've become a bunch of weenies.   Who wants to join a bunch of weenies? (And watch: someone will object to my use of "weenies.")



Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Shoot, Yes, I'm Concerned


"Concerned" is really too mild a word.  But it'll do to hang this post on.

Look, the Republicans lost the White House.  I'll keep it brief.

I'm amazed.  As I tweeted the night of the loss, if Republicans can't beat a president this bad, you have to consider that they might well be pretty much spent as a political force.

The president inherited a situation that was bad, but survivable, and promptly made it worse.  Not only that, he and his party--I hate to use this overworked phrase, but it fits so well--rammed Obamacare down the nation's throat.  They passed other nightmarish legislation, like Dodd-Frank.  And there is probably more on the way.

Going into election day, I thought there was no way the American electorate would reward him with a second term.  I didn't think anyone who voted for McCain would vote for Obama, and furthermore, I thought that many who'd supported Obama the first time would never do it again, and lastly, I thought that many conservatives who sat out the last election rather than vote for "Amnesty John" would vote for Romney this time.

Not that Romney was a great candidate.  I said during the primaries that we could do a lot better.  But surely, I thought, any idiot could see that he would be far preferable to Barack Obama.

Well, apparently I was wrong.  By now, if you've been paying attention, you know the gruesome reality: the total turnout was (upon my last news reading) down by some fourteen million votes.  Obama was about ten million votes under his 2008 totals, and, to my complete and utter shock, Romney was about four million votes below what McCain got.

The difference between Obama and Romney in the popular vote was, last time I looked, about 2.5 million.  One has to consider the possibility that if the other four million who'd voted McCain had shown up this year, Romney would've won.

What the heck happened to them?  I don't know.

I do know that there's a lot of mischief already poised and ready to launch with the new year, and more on the way.  Just how bad it can get, nobody really knows.  I do know we can't go on borrowing and spending this way forever, nor, despite the President's rhetoric, can we tax our way out of it.  There simply isn't enough money, not if you took all the income of the top earners, to do it.  Sooner or later, a fiscal catastrophe is going to occur.  It may be very near.

And I don't want to think about what the President meant when he told Vladimir Putin's right-hand-man that he'd have a lot more flexibility after his re-election.

I know it's true, as Ann Coulter pointed out, that it's very difficult to upset a sitting president, and it's also true that the party out of the White House typically picks up BIG gains in the mid-terms, especially in a situation like we're going to have in 2014.  And it's also true that lame-duck presidents often have a harder time getting things done than they would like.  And it's certainly possible that the Benghazi affair has yet to be fully plumbed, and the bitter harvest from Obamacare and other Democratic foolishness will soon kick in, and a lot of people will realize what they've done by not voting, or voting the wrong way.

But I fear that the damage inflicted over the next few years will be permanent, or at least years-long.  I now have utterly no confidence in my ability to stay employed, though I'm certainly working to enhance my employability.  I really question what's going to happen to my country, my liberty, and my children.

But I'm not going to remain static.  I'm going to do everything I can to cope, to improve, and to aid my country and my children.  And I hope that you do the same.