“You don’t know how important it is until you lose it”, Charlie said as he help up his hand to show that one of his fingers was shorter than the others. He was missing the top part of that finger due to an unfortunate accident and that was not the only one. Once Charlie commented that you could tell if someone was really in the printing trade by whether or not they had all their fingers intact. Printing is a dangerous business and Charlie had done it for a long time. This week, he was sharing his testimony of God’s faithfulness throughout his life and reminded us that even if you are missing some body parts, God can still use you in important ways.
It is performance review time around our ministry this month and that means a lot of face to face meetings are taking place. In my previous job, I was a Human Resources Professional and often coached managers on doing performance reviews. For many of them, this was a dreaded time of the year and one of their least favorite activities. As a leader in a Christian ministry I have come to see things from a slightly different perspective. While sharing honest information about how someone is doing in their job can be intimidating, it can also be exhilarating. It is amazing how people come alive when you ask the right questions and focus on their potential and not just their problems. While I am certainly not suggesting that good performance reviews avoid the hard stuff, I am realizing more and more how strengths based assessment is critical to success in a growing organization.
Some people in an organization are hard not to notice. They walk in and greet everyone they meet, they always have something to say in a group meeting and people are often seeking their advice. Others are not that charismatic and will often do things to avoid being in the spotlight. Both types are critical to the functioning of a healthy organization and neither is more important than the other. I am so glad that God did not create us all alike or it would be a pretty boring world.
One of the people that I admire in our organization is Carolyn. She is hard working, detail oriented and passionate about her work. She is also someone that will never seek the limelight. One of her many jobs in our ministry is to answer letters that we get from prisoners. More often than not, these letters are requesting free books. With a very meager budget and limited time in her day, Carolyn responds to these letters and send books as she is able. While she occasionally gets a thank you letter, it is rare that she hears much else after the books are sent. This past December that changed.
We were at the Urbana Student Missions Conference when a man stopped by our booth. He looked at our logo and a big smile broke out on his face. He proceeded to say that he loves CLC and began to share his story. He had been one of those prisoners that wrote to us asking for books. Carolyn had sent him three books including Corrie ten Boom’s “The Hiding Place”. These books impacted his life so dramatically that they played an important role in his conversion and turning to Christ. Now he was in St. Louis exploring options about how he could spend the rest of his life serving God. When we got back from this trip, we could not wait to share this story with Carolyn and to show her the video of this man sharing the story himself.
As I meet with my direct reports for their performance reviews, I am amazed at the diversity of the people I work with every day. Men and women, black and white, young and old. Some are outspoken and opinionated, others are quiet and reserved. Leading this team of talented people has been one of the greatest joys of my life. Traveling around the world and meeting other CLC teams, I am struck by the same reality. No two people are alike, but in Christ, we are one. We share a passion to reach the lost with the truth of the gospel and love to see people transformed as they read great books. Everyone matters.