Aug 19, 2010

How Do You Measure Success?

Abigail and Dolley readers, I resigned from my job this week.  I procured a better opportunity and have decided to move on, but the sadness that goes with departing is always something you have to deal with and this one was really tough.  You see, I am not your typical corporate executive;  SHOCKING, huh?  I love "my people", I sincerely do. 

For many years I prayed, "Lord, please give me a ministry."  I wanted to do something grand and honestly, I think I was really praying, "Lord, get me out of Corporate America."  Day after day, I headed to the office not satisfied but obligated to my family to make a living.  To that point, I had enjoyed moderate success in my career but had stagnated for several years after the birth of my son.  I plugged along and was biding my time waiting on the Lord to move and to move me.

One morning, getting into my car in the garage I prayed the prayer again, "Lord, please give me a ministry."  As clearly as if He was in the room with me, He replied, "I already have."  I was stunned!  All the way to work that day, the words kept rolling around in my head.  This wasn't going to be some grand ministry to feed the homeless or go to Rwanda, this was simply being Christ to those I worked with and giving of myself to them.  I had been doing that for years but just thought it was WHO I was, nothing grand, just being myself.  From that day forward, I looked at my work differently, I looked at my people differently.

I do not proselytize at work, unless someone seeks me out in that area.  I just do the right thing, care about their lives, and try to honor Jesus in all that I do.  I am so flawed, but the Lord uses that to draw folks to me.  I am a contradiction - I am an on fire Christian but I cuss like a sailor.  I am extremely professional and can play the game yet I tell funny stories, loudly.  I am serious about my work, yet I laugh constantly.  I write well and communicate better than most but I do not send rah rah corporate messages and hold stupid meetings to simply hear myself talk.  I will wear a business suit and stripper shoes.  I work hard, but only 40 hours a week.  I am ALWAYS late.  I make mistakes and will share them with my staff and laugh about how silly it was and how embarrassed I am.  I will bust their asses when they screw up and hold them when they cry about a situation at home.

The company I worked for, when I got my "ministry" from the Lord, did not value all of the crazy contradictions that made me who I am, but I cannot be anything other than that, so needless to say, I would have been stuck in a corner in middle management forever if I hadn't left.  Whilst I was still there, my boss attended some motivational seminar and returned with these words on his lips, "How do you measure success?"

He was all over the place with this buzz phrase, popping into my office unexpectedly to blurt out this question and then pop out again.  I must confess I rolled my eyes because we were drowning in work and the sarcastic side of me wanted to say something like, "When I get you to quit spouting this stupid shit and let me hire somebody."  I never took it seriously.

As it happens though, when I resigned from that job, all but one came into my office, hugged my neck and cried.  They told me how much they had enjoyed working with me, how much I had taught them, and how much they loved me.  They told funny stories about me and teased me about things I had done and said that touched them.  Sitting in the parking lot, crying the night I left, I realized THAT is how I measure success.  I am blessed to have encountered the same reaction yesterday as I departed a job that I have truly loved.

This time was a bit different, though.  This time, I had been the leader not merely a supervisor.  This time, I had been able to create a "Dolley Madison" culture and environment and my folks responded in kind.  I am touched and humbled by their outpouring of love and support.  If I never do another thing in my corporate life, I can honestly say, THAT is how I measure success.