Saturday, January 18, 2014

President's Weekly Letters #71

At Sunrise Engineering, Inc., we develop, license, design and administer construction of hydroelectric projects that generate electricity from water power.  Our specialty is projects of 20 Mega Watts or less and we are good at what we do, a sort of boutique firm.  Years ago when we began, I needed a sub-consultant who specialized in instrumentation and control of hydro turbines and generator equipment.  A supplier friend of mine referred me to Cliff Malm at CF Malm Engineers in Seattle, Washington.  Cliff and I became close friends and have completed many projects in the USA over the past 30 years.  Cliff’s philosophy about our work was simple; “The work to correctly complete a project is the same regardless of pay.  So, ask for what you need because you will be busy, either busy and poor or busy and rich.  I would rather be busy and rich.”  This principle could be restated as:  Make yourself busy doing things of value and that bring you closer to your goal.

I observed this principle in the way some people worked in my office.  We were a design office.  We were paid to produce what are called ‘deliverables.’  Deliverables are designs, drawings, specifications, studies, inspections or whatever is called for in the agreement with the Owner.  Some employees were a flurry of activity all day long in the office.  It was tiring just to watch them.  But with all their busyness, they did not do one thing to produce a deliverable.  I call this ‘Busy Work.’  They were reading their email, filling out expense reimbursements, checking production reports, visiting with associates, calling suppliers, etc, etc. while the actual production work of moving the deliverables closer to completion, what the client needed before he would pay us, was seldom entered into.  These employees did not last long.  The ability for someone to recognize and focus on steps or activities that directly move the desired result along to completion is a gift.  But, it is also a learned behavior.

Missionary work is no different than work in a business.  We are under contract to deliver baptisms once per month per companionship but we do not have direct control over baptisms because each investigator, someone besides you, must make a decision before any baptism is performed.  Therefore, your deliverable is keeping 3-5 progressing investigators at all times in our teaching pool.  You need to average over 20 lessons taught per week per companionship, if you expect to baptize once per month.  We only average 5.9 lessons at the present time.  The changes needed to bring about this increased performance will come by actions that produce the deliverable; that moves the ball down the field, using an American football analogy.  Everything you do during your day is missionary work:  study, meal times, exercise, planning, area book, 12 week training, finding, teaching, etc. should really contribute to producing your deliverable.  Without understanding this and purposefully doing things, you may be doing Busy Work.  Preach My Gospel states:

“As you set goals and make plans, evaluate what you do in terms of how your efforts will add to the numbers of people represented in each of these key indicators. Your goal should be to have increasing numbers for every key indicator.

… Evaluate all you do based on whether it adds to the numbers of people in these categories. If you and your companion cannot see how a proselyting activity might help increase the numbers of people in one or more key indicators, you need to question whether the activity is worth your time.”  (PMG p. 139)

This concept was taught vividly in the account of the Apostle Paul and his experiences in Athens, Greece which at that time was the center of world culture.  Paul saw the city wholly given in to idolatry.  Athenians had made Greek gods for everything:  sea, sky, agriculture, earth, etc.  They had a separate god for every aspect of their lives.  And, to cover their bases they made an idol for the Unknown God, just in case they had forgotten one.  I can imagine Paul wandering through the City and observing all this.  He began to dispute in the synagogue and market every day with the Jews, devout persons and anyone who would talk to him.  In my opinion, the Athenians spent all their time with ‘Busy Work’:

“21 (For all the Athenians and strangers which were there spent their time in nothing else, but either to tell, or to hear some new thing.)”  (Acts 17:21)

The philosophers and people who encountered Paul worshiped God’s creations rather than God himself.  They said Paul was a babbler, a setter forth of strange gods, a preacher of Jesus and the resurrection, bringing certain strange things to our ears and speaking new doctrine.  They brought him and said, “…we would know therefore what these things mean.”  Paul then gave what might have been one of the best understatements in history plus maybe the one of the best sermons in history:

“22 Then Paul stood in the midst of Mars’ hill, and said, Ye men of Athens, I perceive that in all things ye are too superstitious.” 
23 For as I passed by, and beheld your devotions, I found an altar with this inscription, TO THE UNKNOWN GOD. Whom therefore ye ignorantly worship, him declare I unto you. (Acts 17:22-23)

Paul went on to explain who the unknown God was to those who had replaced revelation with reason and debate.  God made the world and all things therein, He does not dwell in temples made by hands, He is not worshipped by men’s hands as if He needed something from man, men of all nations are one blood, and:

 “27 That they should seek the Lord, if they are willing to find him, for he is not far from every one of us.  (JST Acts 17:27)
 28 For in him we live, and move, and have our being; as certain also of your own poets have said, For we are also his offspring.
 29 Forasmuch then as we are the offspring of God, we ought not to think that the Godhead is like unto gold, or silver, or stone, graven by art and man’s device.”  (Acts 17:27-29)

From this account, we are clearly warned of the dangers of always seeking a new thing, that as God’s offspring we should worship him and sincere testimony can convincingly counter reason and logic.  But in a larger sense we see Paul ‘Busy and Rich.’  He was producing his deliverable.  The Athenians were ‘Busy and Poor,’ being engaged in busy work but not anything productive.

On a mission and in life, knowing what your deliverable is, learning to see how and insist that your actions directly produce your deliverable is priceless.
President Robinson

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