Have you ever said the phrase, “Man, I hate stupid people…”?
Perhaps those weren’t the exact words that you chose, but more than likely, you’ve had a similar thought pass into your brain. Whether it was because of being cut off in traffic, taking too long at the cash register, getting a totally messed up order at a restaurant, or really just seeing anyone do anything dumb in public… you’ve probably thought at least something mildly horrible about another human being at some point in time.
As unfortunate as it is, many people in the service industry are often the recipients of this mental thrashing. We’ve all been there. You wait like a half hour in the drive-thru line at Chick-Fil-A, AC on full blast (shout out to my FL friends), mouth a-drooling, and fully ready to devour that bag-full of poultry heaven. You finally get your order, and speed away before another “it’s my pleasure” can be uttered begrudgingly. You get home, and practically eat the paper bag itself as you tear into your dietary salvation… only to find that they forgot to put in your sandwich AND the Chick-Fil-A sauce, leaving only a medium fry to keep you until your next meal.
* CUSS CUSS CUSS *
Now, I’m not gonna make any sort of excuses for that kind of happening — truly, that’s the worst. I hope you re-experienced that unfortunate moment with me, with a solid dose of the temporary humanitarian hatred involved. Keep that emotion with you for this blog, and let it linger. It’s not super relevant quite yet, so keep it simmering, but… I do wanna highlight one valuable difference that the service industry shows in dramatic contrast.
Management is systems-oriented — Leadership is people-oriented.
It would be easy to lump the two into the same category… I mean, when one gets hired as a shift manager at a Chick-Fil-A, it’s kindof assumed that they’re a leader too, right? Nope, definitely not. The difficulty of managing and leading at the same time, is that our brains sometimes mix the two up. The systematic, analytical parts of our logic wants to “deal” with people in the same way as the processes that we’ve deemed to be most effective in management.
And lemme catch you before you think, “But I don’t manage anything!”… Do you have a job? Go to school? Have a career? Follow a schedule or calendar? Do anything that requires some sort of strategy or analytical, systematic thinking? Guess what… you’re a manager of your life! This is 100% applicable to you, no matter who you are.
Management ≠ Leadership
The ideology of management is, “How can I maximize the efficiency of this system with the resources that I have?” — Leadership asks, “What can I sacrifice to best love and add value to those around me?”
One of the greatest marks of leadership is the ability to effectively give away influence.
Take a gander in the Word O’ God and see for yourself. When Jesus (arguably the greatest leader to have ever lived), decided that He’s gonna entrust the furthering of His church in the world, what does He do? He doesn’t just leave His disciples to flounder around, not knowing what to do… He gives them authority to do the same works that He did, and even greater! He said that they could cast out demons, and move mountains with enough faith, and perform miracles that would defy all human logic and understanding.
But have you ever considered the fact that the disciples were probably the people that would make you say, “Man, I hate stupid people…”?
Like, let’s consider for a second… Peter cut a dude’s ear off while Jesus was talking. That’s like, pet peeve to the max. I picture Jesus face-palming, right before picking up the dude’s ear and miraculously placing it back on the guy’s face… or what about Thomas. He was with Jesus for three whole years, seeing Him do supernatural things all over the place and bringing dead people back to life… and then just when it would be the most inconvenient to believe in the power of his Messiah, he doubts Him to the max and wonders if He’s legit at all. Stupid.
Or really, how about the whole lot of em? When Jesus was about to perform one of the most memorable miracles in the entire Bible, feeding thousands of people… Jesus asks his disciples to feed those who were following them, and all of His disciples were like, “Whoa, okay now Jesus, let’s be realistic here… it would take us like *counts on fingers and pauses*… like a LOT of months of wages to make that happen. Can’t happen Jesus, sorry.”
Obviously, that’s a bit dramatized, but… for real though. The people that the God of the Universe chose to be the closest to Him on this earth were the people who were least competent, least qualified, least God-like, and probably most rejected by other people. And yet, they were the people on whom Jesus built His church and entrusted with the most important news to ever be designed in this existence.
I find it amusing when people try to compare themselves with the disciples in some way or another. My favorite is probably, “Man, I just really connect with Peter… he was such a goof, but in the end, he walked on water and was a pretty good guy, y’know?” I know this comparison is purely in the interest of finding connection with another human, doing their best to follow Jesus, but… I’m afraid you’re not Peter. I’m afraid none of us are really anything like the disciples in most cases. Y’wanna know who most criticized, ridiculed, and probably scoffed at those same world-changing, but absolutely silly disciples? The Pharisees.
We are often the Pharisees.
We see the foolishness of others and we scoff at it, in our vain attempts to maintain some kind of perceived holiness… but we’re just as messed up. Can you even imagine the amount and scope of the names the disciples were called? Or the amount of suffering that they regularly endured just to be loyal to their Rabbi?
Pharisees do their best to “deal” with people and get on with their own pious pursuit of effective righteousness… but disciples hold dearly to humility, and make every effort to lead people to Jesus in love, no matter the cost.
People are made to be loved, not managed.
Sometimes we forget that every person around us has an intricate, fascinating, unique, complex story… and if we’re truly as passionate about people as we may claim in our resumes or vision statements, we’re not afforded the luxury of simply “dealing” with people. We must lay down our fickle annoyance of “stupid people” and realize that what we’re annoyed by is often present in ourselves… let your hardened heart be softened by the fact that the same grace that saved you is what Jesus gave to all.
To bring it full circle, resurface that feeling of absolute annoyance from the Chick-Fil-A tale at the start… hopefully you kept that monstrous emotion around.
Though the error in the order was mostly likely a systematic flaw, we immediately put the blame onto the person that took the order. The face of foolishness is always gonna be much easier to point the finger at than some system that needs repair. We default to Pharisee attitudes toward people who are in desperate need of Disciple love. Though you would have every right to let that human error manifest into a “Man, I hate stupid people…”, as a disciple of Christ, you must let moments of potential selfishness motivate you to love even more thoroughly. The true test of loving people is when things are not in our favor and most likely cost us something.
Systems are only as effective as the people who run them. To lead well means to love well, and to love well requires sometimes taking the humble path of foolishness. Even if it means ridicule, name-calling, or even annoyance, it’s always better to be a foolish disciple than a hard-hearted Pharisee.
I pray that in this day, you’ll let yourself be okay with the flaws, quirks, and weird things that people do. Let all of the silliness become inspiration to you to love life a little bit more. Allow the errors in life become the true tests of your love for the people around you. If you’re often critical of the “foolishness” of those around you, consider that maybe you’re the one who’s in the wrong, not them. I pray that you’ll choose to value people in the midst of flaws in systems, and that in the most practical of ways, you’ll show how Jesus loves to your neighbors, friends, co-workers, and even the strangers around you. You’ve been given the immense gift of grace — and so has everyone else! So act like it. I hope that you’ll be encouraged by the fact that some of the silliest people of all time, who chose to leave their jobs and follow Jesus, became some of the most world-changing people in history. The disciples were some of the most unlikely of protagonists, but so are we. Let your heart learn to love again, and let people be the reason for it. You’re awesome, and I’m so glad that we get to figure this thing out together. I love you, and don’t forget to keep moving forward, friend.