Jul 082015 2 Responses

Do More Than Just Fix It

Would you ask the question?

Your time is limited. The demands upon you are nearly overwhelming. There is so much to do that every second given to one issue is a second taken from another important issue. The question is unnecessary. It will not change your actions. The person has a problem and you can fix it. Nothing else really matters.

You don’t need to know their story, but they will feel better if they are known. Do you ask the question, “how long has this been happening?”

Wouldn’t it be irresponsible to ask the question? Your to do list is long. Every extra second spent on one issue is a second stolen from another equally important issue. (See: What No One Ever Tells You About Being a Leader)

Don’t they just want the issue fixed? They brought the topic to your attention for you to do something about it. Why bother with conversation? Why not just do what needs to happen and move on?

This question—”how long”—shows the weakness of my leadership compared to that of Jesus.

In Mark 9, a father brought his epileptic son to Jesus. The father is looking for a miracle. Fortunately for him and the boy, Jesus is more than willing to heal him. Yet before the healing, Jesus asks a fascinating question, “How long has this been happening to him?” (Mark 9.21)

The question fascinates me because of how unnecessary it is. Jesus didn’t need to know the answer—I assume he already knew. Knowing in no way changes what Jesus would do. With only three years to do his work, no one has ever been as busy as Jesus so he clearly didn’t have any time to waste.

Yet he asks a question which is not necessary and wastes time all for the sake of allowing the father to tell his story. It wouldn’t change the situation, but it would help the father felt known and understood. Jesus asks and then he listens.

I rarely do. (See: You Chose This–A Reflection on Time Management)

Last week I was working at my home office when Ella had a request. I don’t remember the details of it. I simply remember hearing what she wanted and giving my verdict. She didn’t like it. She asked again. I quickly rebuked her second request.

Then she responded in a way she never had, “You aren’t respecting me, Daddy.” 

It’s a response that got my attention. She has never said that to me before. In our house, we have a rule that anyone (children included) can call out another person if they do not feel the other person is loving them well. While there are times in which Ella or Silas make this claim and I am loving them well (i.e. disciplining them properly) in this instance Ella was exactly right. I was not respecting her. She was making a request and I was dealing with the request but not her heart. I was not seeing her. While she didn’t necessarily deserve what she wanted, she did have every right to assume her father would look her in the eye, hear her request, and see her heart.

I failed and she rightly called me on it. (See: Three Things to Do When Parenting Goes Wrong)

In leadership and parenting, it is tempting to put all of our attention and energy on fixing things. Many times it is what we get paid (work) or are entrusted (parenting) to do. Yet leadership is more than just fixing; it is also relating. We are charged with being in relationship with those who work for us or are born to us. Good leaders and good parents do more than just fix things.

While fixing, they also make sure they hear the stories of those around them. They take time to see the person, hear their request, and connect with their heart. (See: Never Give Up on People)

The temptation for a leader is to downplay this important role. We can wrongly assume our job is to simply deal with issues and totally miss our responsibility to interact with people.

Leaders must fix problems, but they also must connect with others. Bad leaders see people as a drain; good leaders see people as the primary aspect of their job.

2 Responses to Do More Than Just Fix It
  1. glendakuhn Reply

    We need more good leaders (listeners not hearers) in our homes and on our jobs. Put down the mobile phone and listen. It shows respect.

  2. […] 2. You Can’t Fix It. We want to. Good people have a desire to fix many things. When others are... kevinathompson.com/others-make-choices-dont-like

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