Abandon All Fear

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Archive for December, 2005

[Work] The Never-Ending Report

Posted by Lex Fear on December 18, 2005

Every day I have to create an exceptions report for customers who are supposed to send billing data but haven’t for some reason. This data really is only for billing and in most cases simply requires contacting the customer and asking them to send the data. But because of factors beyond my personal control such as:

  • Sometimes there’s an IT problem
  • A spineless manager who will let other departments shift their work onto us
  • The way our crappy [flux capacitors] are setup that can fail in so many new different and wonderful ways.
  • This task falls to myself. We have around 6000 customers, every day at least 1000 do not send their billing data. With only 2 hours of my working day free to chase these customers, it doesn’t take a genius to work out that most of them are going to fail for a long time.

So my report always shows at the top end, customers failing to send their data over a large period of days and my progress of resolving that. The problem is, as with all exception reporting, is that once an issue has been resolved it falls off the report and is taken up by the next highest failure. To a sharp mind it is pretty obvious something is moving, something is happening as the report changes daily. However to a pretty unfocused, scatter brained individual it just seems like nothing is being done about those top failures.

And if that said individual has some sort of bonus coming for performance of the billing data exceptions before Christmas, then it’s important he sits with IT Monkey and makes sure something is done, because clearly IT Monkey is having problems if he can’t seem to clear the top failures and they are still going for 30+ days.

The person we are of course speaking of is my manager, The Clown. He now feels it’s necessary to sit with me for up to 2 hours next to my desk and “help” me to resolve some of the failures. What makes this patronising, baby-sitting experience especially excruciating is that he somehow seems to see this as a bit of a brunch, therefore he’ll bring a bag of peanuts and literally start munching away in my ear. How I have kept myself from exploding into rage I don’t know. To give you a taste of the experience, imagine standing on a busy London tube at peak time, with people so close to your face you can tell what they had for breakfast and your journey lasts for an hour. The person who has his chin rested on your shoulder now decides now is a time for a good snack. On the tube we might forgive people for invading our personal space, an unfortunate necessity we are not able to avoid. But to sit next to me, inches from my face and ear, munching a bag of peanuts and questioning my every action, like I am a 5 year old being instructed, makes me feel like smacking him in the face, very hard.

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[Churchianity] David vs Saul

Posted by Lex Fear on December 11, 2005

“It is possible to disobey a leader, leave their ministry or ignore them, without disobeying or sinning against God. It may even be God who has revealed the truth to you.”

I made a decision a few weeks ago. That I would ‘take a break’ from Youth leadership. To put it bluntly I was not in agreement with the Youth Pastors policies, and told him so politely in a private meeting. Many hard-liners in my church would look at this incident and shake their heads in disappointment. Many look down at me and decide that I’m a frustrated dissenter. They probably pray for me that I would understand their leaders heart, humble myself and toe the line.

This is the inward culture of my church and in many churches like it. Teaching that, to be humble and obedient to the vision of the church, is to not question your leaders but to follow and do anything they tell you to. Many just swallow this bosh without question in the vain attempt to show their obedience. They usually cite examples of Davids obedience even whilst Saul was attempting to kill him. But David is a perfect example of humility and obedience whilst not following the designated God-appointed leader.

What they don’t realise is this. David was chosen of God, Saul was rejected (though he was appointed by God). Although God gave Saul into Davids hands twice, rather than follow through, justify himself and kill Saul, David actually honoured Saul and spared his life. This is the crux of the matter. Saul was a bad leader, God gave David a chance to trash the bad leader, and instead David chose not to. In no way was David being obedient or humble towards Saul, on the contrary, David was still on the run from Saul.

It is possible to disobey a leader, leave their ministry or ignore them, without disobeying or sinning against God. It may even be God who has revealed the truth to you. I have had many opportunities to trash our Youth Pastor to others, but I have declined, even when it seemed that the opportunity was handed to me on a plate. Whether the Youth Pastor will ever know or appreciate that I don’t know, but I resent the fact that I am treated like a Judas when I’m simply trying to defend my position or present a different viewpoint. It’s almost like they don’t understand why you would think any different from the leaders and if you do, then you’ve got some sort of issue and until you resolve it (ie. think the same as everyone else) you will be shunned.

Thankfully I’ve learnt to be obedient and humble, doesn’t necessarily mean to take every order without question. In fact the bible encourages us to question everything. Just as an old mentor of mine used to say “If you don’t have doubts, you’ll believe everything”. When I quote this to the hard-liners, their eyes simply glaze over and they move on. So I hold on hoping I can raise enough influence points to challenge the system. But it’s hard to earn influence from sheeple, to them I am a sheep in wolves clothing.

Posted in Anecdotes, Churchianity, Little Hitlers, Pharisees, The Purpose Missing Church | Tagged: , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Filler Words, Buzz-Words and Emotional Appeals

Posted by Lex Fear on December 11, 2005

Lake Superior State University have posted a list of suggested words of 2005 to banish. Mostly referring to American politics, however, I would like to add some of my own.

Something about buzzwords is more annoying to me than scraping fingernails down a chalk-board. My church, always eager to keep up with the corporate world always manages to come up with new ones. It makes me shudder every time I hear a new buzzword, often repeatedly used in the same service.

Take for example one word which they discovered and began implementing a few months ago- “connect”. Used in such cases as, “If you’re a new visitor here, we’d love to ‘connect’ with you” and “We’re just gonna take 2 minutes here, why don’t you get up out of your seat and go and ‘connect’ with someone you don’t know”. Urrrgh. My skin crawls. What’s wrong with the words meet, or greet? ‘Connect’ gives me a picture in my mind of people walking around with a large USB wire sticking out of them, plugging into each other.

Another favourite used by one of our small group leaders is “Download”. As in “I can see you’re having some trouble trying to ‘download’ that” meaning “I can see your having trouble trying to understand that”.. It’s like a new version buzzword replacing the older version buzzword – ‘process’ which wasn’t half as bad. An online resource of buzzwords can be found here.

The only thing that irritates me half as much is the proliferate use of filler words, easier to forgive but just as irritating. I don’t mind filler words if the speaker is genuine, it’s those who are imitators in their preaching styles, they are trying to sound like some well-known preacher who genuinely uses the same fillers. I wish I was making this up but I’m not. Take for example “I just wanna”. The amount of times you will hear “I just wanna”, especially during an evening preaching to the youth group would make you ‘just wanna’ rip off your ears! It’s usually used in a condescending fashion “…And I just wanna say…”, “…I just wanna tell you…” and can be combined to form “…And I just wanna say that what I just wanna tell you is…”. Just bloody tell us then.

One thing that I now really find patronizing, is those musically enhanced emotional appeals at the end of services. At one stage it was every bloody week, no matter what the sermon was about, even if they weren’t giving an appeal at all. It was choreographed perfectly. The preacher will be reaching the end, a gentle nod to the lead musician. As they continue speaking, suddenly slow piano or guitar music will begin to play, the speaker gives his well timed and emotionally charged appeal. It was different and pleasant when they first started doing it years ago. But now it’s just really annoying and absolutely devoid and empty of any real feeling. If people need to respond, they’ll respond, we don’t need the assistance of a few notes from “Relaxing Moods CD Volume 2” to make our life-changing decision. Lately it seems that the church has decided ditch this part of the appeal, in the last couple of months I’ve noticed speakers giving there appeal or finishing off their sermon without any musical accompaniment. It’s much better and much more respectful of people’s intelligence. I hope I’m not speaking too soon.

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Posted in Anecdotes, Churchianity, Dark Side of the Light, Of The World But Not In It, The Purpose Missing Church | Tagged: , , | Leave a Comment »