Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Service Organization and Serving

Humiliating day yesterday.

What I'm coming to be reminded of - again and again -is that my function in my company is that of a service organization. Not a valued partner, not a valued contributor, but a service organization.

Service organizations (if you've not thought of one lately) exist to serve. Not specifically to contribute, not specifically to offer expertise, not to specifically to lead - but to serve. To provide a service - or a series of services - to help other people do their more important work.

Service organizations are not consulted, they are told - what to do, when to do, how to do. Once contracted, they are to provide the expected level of service no matter what the circumstances around their work, their ability to or to not actually support the service requested.

They are, to quote a phrase, "to be seen but not heard", quietly toiling about the minor details of life that are required to make a business go without any expectation of becoming other than that which they are.

I am finding this very hard to take.

I find this hard to take on two levels: 1) I simply can't stand being treated as a servant. The arrogance of "This is what I want precisely; you provide it" has never gone well with me; 2) I want to be the leader. I don't want to be led.

But then, in the back of my mind, God tickles with Matthew 20: 25-28:

"But Jesus called them to Himself and said 'You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and those who are great exercise authority over them. Yet it shall not be so among you; but whoever desires to become great among you, let him be your servant. And whoever desires to be first among you, let him be your slave - just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many.'"

There's the rub - I'm actual called to serve to become great, to be a slave (I'm guessing the word there is "doulos", literally a branded slave, the lowest of the low) to become first.

It never feels like it - when you see the e-mail that has a schedule that seems impossible and you stuff down the resentment at being ordered, when you see the pile of work only grow while others' shrinks, when you feel treated day after day as simply an interchangeable part instead of a valued contributor. But this is probably precisely when it is most important.

It has been said that if we will not humble ourselves, God will take care of the job for us. I'm finding He's a far more exacting taskmaster than I ever was on myself.

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