Elder C. Edmond
My job requires a fair amount of travel, which means I have rented a fair amount of cars in my time-but never a car like this car.
I was in Phoenix, Arizona, and my original plan was to try to save money by not renting a car at all. But the airport was further from my hotel than I thought and when I checked into what it would cost to get an Uber, the figure that came up on my phone was roughly the size of the national debt.
Thankfully, the price to rent a car was surprisingly reasonable. When I picked up the keys, I didn’t notice that the key was different. But it wasn’t long afterwards that I discovered everything about this car was different. It was an electric car.
Now – I had never driven an electric car; in fact, I had never been in an electric car – except one time at a dealership. Both my wife’s car and my car are getting old (but they are paid for!), so I am starting to think about buying what will probably be the final car I shall buy – given the stage of life Mrs. Edmond and I are in now.
I was thinking about buying an electric car. Then the salesman told me the car cost $100,000-which made me quickly un-think about it-at least, un-think about buying that car.
But now-for the first time, I get the keys to an electric car. And everything about that car is different than I am used to-how it starts, how it runs, how it locks – everything. And no one tells me anything. I had to find someone who worked there to tell me how to start the car. HE didn’t know EITHER, so he had to get a manager.
The manager proceeded to give me a crash course in operating a Tesla. He told me 20 things to do-which in my frazzled state, I remembered zero.
I did figure out 2 things: First – now that someone had started the car for me, I wasn’t going to turn it off (because I still didn’t know how to start it back up again).
Having gotten up early that morning and flown across country, I was planning to stop somewhere before arriving at the hotel to get something to eat. That wasn’t going to happen now.
I have largely cut out eating at fast food places for health reasons. But greasy, unhealthy food – food that could be purchased at a drive in – here I come! Anything that did not make me re-start that car!
Second-I was going to valet park this car. That way, someone else had to turn my car off and someone else had to start it back up and bring it back to me the next day-already running.
It took me 2 days to figure out how that car worked. What helped tremendously were 3 very nice young people, who at various times, showed me various things about my electric car-the most important was how to turn my air-conditioning back on (a pretty important thing to know in Phoenix in the middle of summer, when it was 114 degrees).
By the time it was time to return the car, I had gotten pretty good in driving it and had gone from being horrified that the rental car company had given me an electric car to being sorry that I had to give it back.
I learned some lessons with my rented electric car that I would like to share:
First…There Are Probably Far Too Many Times In the Church When We Do to People in Leadership What the Rental Car Company Did to Me: We put them in the “front seat” and tell them “Drive”, without seeing to it that they have any sort of training for what we expect them to do.
The rental car company made the assumption that I knew how to operate an electric car. But the reality was that I had never been in an electric car before-I had zero idea of how they operated.
Our church operates through boards and committees. Collectively, there are probably hundreds of thousands of boards and committees on all levels of the Adventist Church, with millions of people on those committees, making tons of important decisions (although I have sat on committees in my time in the church whose only role seemed to be to decide to form another committee!).
But how many people on those boards and committees have received any training as to what their organization does and what their role as a board member or a committee member was supposed to be? Or-did we just sort of place them in the front seat and say to them, “Drive”-and expect them to just “figure it out”?
We need to ensure that everyone involved in the operation of our church-at all levels-has received training and instruction on how their organization operates and their role in that operation.
Second…Sometimes – What Seems to Us to Be Opposition to Change Is Really A Lack of Understanding About That Change:
At first, I had no desire to rent an electric car. I was completely opposed to having an electric car.
But once someone took the time to explain how electric cars work and showed me how to operate one, I saw the benefits of change. Instead of fighting the inevitable change (electrical cars are here to stay and the gas-powered cars that I have gotten comfortable driving all my life are probably eventually going to-as we used to say in my Youth Director days-“bite the dust”), I now embrace it. In fact, if I ever can find an electric car I can afford and one that Mrs. Edmond likes (which is usually a challenge – her tastes usually outrun my dollars), I’d like to buy one.
Change can be difficult. But change is really difficult without explanation and patience and assistance. Most people like to operate in their comfort zone; in fact, it is because people are no longer really comfortable doing things the same way that they have always been done that they seek a different way and things change.
To put it another way, the people who want things changed in the way their churches are being operated need to understand that in the same way that they are uncomfortable with the way things are, other people are uncomfortable changing the way things are. I think it was Steven Covey who said, “In order to be understood, seek to understand”.
Maybe there are too many people in the church who want things to forever stay the way they always have been. I have run into people like that-people whose favorite expression seems to be, “We’ve never done that before”-as if not doing something before means you should never do it at all. There are people in the church like that-no doubt about that at all.
But here is what I’m learning:
- If there are people like that in my church, it is my job as a leader to persuade them to change – not persecute them for not changing.
- Sometimes, you need the “We don’t ever want to change” people in the church because – there really are some things that don’t need to be changed.
Which brings me to my last point:
To Get Where We Need to Go As A Church, It’s Going to Take All of Us to Get Us There. I hated driving my electric car until three young people-two young men and a young lady-told me things that helped me understand how to drive it. They were patient and helpful and I learned what I didn’t know.
I have said this a thousand times and I have said it for a thousand years: Young people need old people so that young people will know and understand the past. Old people need young people to keep old people from living in the past.
We old people need young people (who else is going to teach us how to turn the light off on our cell phones?). Young people need old people (some things you want to learn through someone else’s experience).
And all of us need the Lord.