A few years ago when I was working at Boeing, one of my co-workers came up to me and started talking about a new group in their church. This is the same co-worker who joined the church later in life. This is the same co-worker who earlier told me about how much better he felt working here at Boeing because he was free to talk about his church, how he feels about church and God, his grandson, and of course, politics.
But this time he told me about this new group. He said they are known as the “Bucket Brigade.” Before he continued, I thought about what a great group that must be, for as I understood bucket brigades, they were volunteers who were helping put out fires in days gone by – they were out helping others. But he continued, ”We have a group in our church that rushes up and throws cold water on any one who proposes a new idea or plan. They don’t want anything to change! However, if it’s their idea, well, that’s different. Some of us call them the Bucket Brigade!”
How sad! Unfortunately, many of us have encountered bucket brigades not only in church, but in business and community affairs as well. Often times those who have held leadership positions for some time are not as open when it comes to someone presenting a new idea. We tend to get set in our ways. As a result, instead of judging the idea on its own merit, we see it as a criticism of what we have done and become defensive.
There are other times when, as leaders, we try to control information. This probably happens more often than we would like to think. For example, some communication comes to the community from the county or state announcing a new program or plan. The community leader may receive it and determine by himself (or herself) that this will compete with something else he or she is trying to do and so it simply gets ignored and not presented. How often have we seen that in church organizations as well? As committee leaders, we may receive something from the conference leadership that we don’t think is right for us, so we throw it away and it never gets presented to the full committee or church members for a fair hearing.
So it is, that people who were placed in positions in order to facilitate communications are the very ones who impede it.
I have always liked the idea of term limits. We hear it so much in politics and, indeed, we need it there in Congress, but we also need it in church and community positions of leadership as well. Several years ago, I ws a member for the Community Council, which is now the Grapeland Chamber of Commerce, and their rule that you could only serve one term of three years. You had to rotate off for some period of time before serving again. We should consider that in school boards and, yes, even church committees. However, church committees differ from other groups in that they serve as volunteers and are not elected, as is the case with Congress and other civic and local agencies. But in all cases, elected or volunteer, the one common thread among leaders is that their personal power and prestige is threatened. Here comes the bucket brigade!
Politics and power often hamper plans for some mission or idea in church or community. Think about those who oppose a shelter for the homeless, a food kitchen, or a sports program for poor kids. Do we think about property values, increased crime or drugs rather than the idea we might be helping someone regain a place in society? In order for a new idea or plan to be effective, we leaders need to change our thinking and be receptive to the new ideas. There was a small sign hanging in a cubicle of a friend that I thought was excellent and dhoulf apply to everyone. It should be hanging in all offices and churches. It goes like this:
“When you change your THINKING, you change your belief.
When you change your belief, you change your expectations.
When you change your expectations, you change your attitude.
When you change your attitude, you change your behavior.
When you change your behavior, you change your performance.
When you change your performance, you change your LIFE.”
Words to live by.