Two Rules

I work in Philadelphia these days and have an apartment in the city, because at this point in my life, you can only travel I-95 so many times and remain sane. We also have a home in New Hope. My wife Jacqui and I are not always on the same schedule, so when I get the chance to be home for dinner during the week, it is an event I look forward to.

Our dinner discussions usually wind up being about the work we do and the folks we work with. Recently, my wife was talking about a young woman at an organization she volunteers with here in town. The young woman just took on a significant new responsibility, and I commented on the job she was doing balancing everything in her life. Jacqui replied, “She has two rules.”

Rule number one: If you complain, you have to be part of the solution or you have no credibility.
Rule number two: People before things.

Like any good idea I find, I have no problem borrowing this.

I got to thinking about what would happen if we used these rules in any volunteer organization, or even in business. Well, you would have no issue with finding volunteers, committees would be full, and in the case of the church, you would have to hold real elections for Vestry.

“If you complain, you have to be part of the solution or you have no credibility.” Think about how you would respond to someone if you were in leadership.

“I have an issue that you need to fix.”
“Well, what do you think we should do and when do you start?”

You have to admit it would change the paradigm in a few places.

“People before things.” Now there’s a rule I really like.

We deal with the issues of poverty every day at ECS. Forget the politics and your individual economics for a moment. Stewardship would sure look different. This is not some liberal chant – it is a statement of priorities. What if employment was a priority, based on education and training for today’s real jobs?

What would be the impact if you spent some of your time in the service of people and not things? Think if it was at scale, we could move the needle on poverty? You bet we could. (Note the word “we.”)

I like these rules. Why don’t you try them for a month and see what changes. I bet you don’t go back.