Leadership Life

Putting Out Fires

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This morning, a faithful member of our church (@apcofcburg), informed me that they had stopped by the church and took care of a problem that could have potentially been disastrous. My response? Thanks for putting out the fire!

This might not mean a whole lot to you, and no, it wasn’t a literal fire, but they noticed a job that needed to been addressed, and so without asking, they just put out the fire.  I wonder how much more our employers, our families, our friends would value us if we all independently became fire fighters?  Especially in a culture and in a world where we have a lot of figurative arsonist (people that love to start fires…problems…create drama…etc.).

Several years ago now, in one of my original blog posts, I wrote a piece about Job Descriptions.  You can check it out by clicking here.  The purpose of that ancient post was to emphasize the reality that most bosses or employers can’t fit everything that actually needs to be done on a single sheet of paper, headlined JOB DESCRIPTION.  However, I digress…

My reminder to our church, or in business terms, the shareholders of our organization, was that we are all responsible to maintain good stewardship of what we’ve been entrusted with.  Using hyperbole, I illustrated that if there was a small fire starting to burn in our church building, and they were driving past the church and noticed it, they would not have to ask me, fill out a request form, bring it before the church to vote on it, or go through any other bureaucracy or  red tape…in that situation, there’s only one response: PUT OUT THE FIRE!

I know…I know…the lyrics of the 80s Billy Joel are echoing in your ears right now…We Didn’t Start The FireAnd you might have a valid point.  So you didn’t start the fire!  Are you therefore responsible for putting out the fire?  Short answer: YES.  If you have any investment or appreciation in whatever organization or affiliation you are with, you my friend need to assume some responsibility, and instead of starting fires, start doing everything in your power to start putting out fires!

Years ago, my kids used to watch a movie called Robots.  There is a line in that movie that I have never forgotten.  Find a need…fill a need.  That’s your role today, and tomorrow, and the next day, and on and on and on.

Wherever you are, find a need, fill a need.  Do you always have to ask permission?  I guess in some situations, you might need to follow a basic chain of command, but in general, if it comes to picking up some liter, you don’t have to ask anyone, you just know that it’s the right thing to do!

So find a fire (or two) to put out today.  And definitely don’t be out there starting fires!  Find a need, and fill a need.  And believe me, everyone around you will appreciate your contribution to the general good of society.

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