Posted by: tucsonjefe | February 3, 2007

Leadership thoughts: Packages Matter

Because of my mother-in-law’s victory march over cancer, we have been getting lots of experience with the medical community.  This continues to provide me with fodder for the ministry mill.  Yesterday we again came in contact with 2 different, very different, medical offices.  One is the Oncology Doc, the other is the Radiation Guy.  In Oncology Doc’s office, the waiting room is kind of lackluster – kind of dreary, decorated with African masks and newspaper articles about how great the docs there are.  The dominant focus in the room is a heavy plexi-glass window that requires some effort to open.  Behind the window is the receptionist (guard?)  She and her coworkers sit behind the glass laughing and talking, inaudible to the waiting clientele.  Each patient brings his paper work to the window, which is framed by signs reading “fee for returned checks” and “no admittance without checking in.”  The glass slides open with a grinding sound, then is slammed shut with a thud that says “keep out!”  I was particularly struck by one young lady who came for her chemotherapy.  She was informed that her lab work had not arrived yet – thud.  She was left in the lobby alone to use her cell phone to call the laboratory and have them fax (she had to bang on the glass to get the number) the results to the office before she could be admitted to the inner sanctum to receive life-saving treatment. 

By contrast, the Radiation Guy’s office feels more like entering somebody’s home.  The decorations are warm and oriented toward reporting the victories of the patients.  The seats are arranged around a table that has reading materials and fresh pastries.  A receptionist greets each person and offers them coffee.  When patients are called for their treatments, there is often a hug and always a tone of genuine welcome in the voice of the staff.  Family members with questions are invited into a comfortable office to confer with someone who listens and responds. When informed of a lagging test result, the response is, “we can get that for you.”  Now, both places are clinically excellent.  All the physicians are highly competent and even congenial, once you get to them. The end result is that life-saving help is given. The difference is in the attitude and thoughtfulness of the staff and the care demonstrated in the process of accessing the professional services.  I trust you can see the application for our churches.  How does it feel when a frightened hurting person enters our door?  Do we make it easier or harder for them to receive the help they need?  Where are the sliding doors in our church that thud on the hopes of the seeker?  Where are the real greeters who offer a handshake, a hug, and some actual assistance? 

Scripture Reading:  “Whoever accepts this child as if the child were me, accepts me,” he said. “And whoever accepts me, accepts the One who sent me. You become great by accepting, not asserting. Your spirit, not your size, makes the difference.” (Luke 9:48 MSG)

Somebody Said: Sometimes when we are generous in small, barely detectable ways it can change someone else’s life forever.   Margaret Cho, weblog, 03-11-04

I sincerely try to get what is in my heart reflected in how we do our ministry.  It ain’t always easy because I am as self-centered as most folks.  It is worth the trouble to ask what obstacles we have constructed for those who come to us for help.  Some obstacles are physical – a heavy door or a scary painting.  Others are personal – a distressed look ignored or a cup of coffee not offered.  Message quality is not our only concern.  Our message needs to be reflected from the parking lot all the way to the altar call.



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