Monday, June 2, 2014

Building vs. Doing



I’ve stayed at 2-star hotels and I’ve stayed at 5-star hotels. I like 5-star hotels better but it’s not just because the beds are better quality, or the bathroom is big enough to fit my entire master bedroom. It’s not even because when I make a call to any of the hotel service areas, my call is personalized by their greeting, “Good afternoon Mr. & Mrs. York, how may I assist you?” I like all those reasons (especially the personalized greeting), but the one reason that stands out the most is that all the staff, from the General Manager to the new immigrant hired in housekeeping, are working toward a higher purpose. They are building a company; everyone and every role is important. They have a common goal, and they believe it can be accomplished together. The staff in a 2-star hotel is simply doing their job; they aren’t building anything, and it shows.

I’ve been thinking about building vs. doing for the better part of the last school year. In years prior, I was quite involved in a supernatural school ministry, taking on a leadership role because I was invited to help build the school which I was part of. Last year there was a change in leadership at the Director level. I approved and readily supported the new Director. Initially I was prepared to continue in the supporting leadership role I had been in but it was different year, with different leadership. There were other changes happening in my life, and I felt God leading me to step back. The final confirmation came when the new Director approached me and asked, “What do you want to do?” The question bothered me and I’ve been thinking about it ever since.

I come from a Christian culture that values hard work, and pitching in to serve others. It’s a great value but there was a danger, at least for me, to believe I needed to work for love, rather than knowing I was already loved and work from there. The question grated me because I felt I had been working hard for the past few years to understand the incredible love the Father has for me, and in one single remark I was back to where I had started.

(The Director’s question was not intended to send me into a tailspin of self-contemplation. I know the Director’s heart, and it was an innocent question meant to include me in the future of the school, and not minimize my role or influence. The Lord was working on an issue in my heart, and I have not needed to communicate my thoughts to the Director, who I consider my friend.)

Vision is important to building. Proverbs 29:18 says, where there is no vision, the people perish. A vision, when it is communicated well, brings unity and gives purpose. At the heart of communicating a vision is the invitation to participate and help build. Someone who is building, and knows why they are building is a much better worker than someone who is just doing the work. Both involve the same type of labour but the one building is reaching for something greater.


Nehemiah had a vision to rebuild the wall in Jerusalem; he invited others to [literally] build with him. He gave each family responsibility to build where it mattered to them. It created ownership and a sense of purpose and as a whole he accomplished something even better.

1 Kings 10:4-5 describes the Queen of Sheba’s response to King Solomon’s household items and his palace staff. I’ve always thought it an odd inclusion to the Scriptures but in studying it, I believe it’s a great lesson on leadership.  Solomon communicated his vision for building his kingdom, and everyone, from the greatest to the least served their role well because they were part of building something bigger. 

Jesus is building his church. A relationship with him is an invitation to build with him. I no longer want to labour in vain (Psalm 127:1); I want to partner with him to build something that will last. How about you? Do you want to do something, or do you want to build?

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