Danger of Ideals
To MEN who believe and hold high ideals, frustration is a constant companion, for, like the sky, ideals are limitless. We no sooner reach a plateau of satisfaction than high above us looms yet another. The ease-loving man will find ideals dangerous to his peace of mind. To be attained they must be constantly pursued. Knowledge is the twin of accountability, and that is why those who know much are difficult to satisfy. The problem, then, is, how to live with a frustrating experience of ever attaining and never obtaining and yet to retain the sweetness and satisfaction of effort sincerely made. It is a sign of spiritual maturity to be able to live with the gap between the ideal and the presently attainable. The wise man knows that in this life no human effort is absolutely perfect, but he works at perfection as if it were a present possibility. Thus we labor on, spurred by the inspiration of the highest ideals and encouraged by the valley below heretofore traversed.
E. E. C.
INSPECTOR OF THE FISHPONDS
SOME years ago a thirty five State survey revealed that 40 per cent of all workers (two out of five) must learn how to get things done if they are to succeed. The big handicap to success, according to the survey, indicated that it was not a lack of brains, character, or willingness, but just plain weakness in getting things done. There is an amazing difference in results obtained by people of similar capacities and qualifications doing the same type of work, using the same equipment and materials. Two teams of preachers of equal age, pitching tents at camp meeting, prove this point. One team pitches 15 tents a day while another team pitches ten tents. One minister can take a church and baptize one hundred people a year, write more letters, visit more people, while another minister with equal years of service, equal training and equal salary, takes the same district and baptizes ten people in a year and never seems to get anything done. There are some lazy ministers, but in general the big reason for these differences is not laziness. Often those who produce little, swirl and swish around stirring up clouds of activity but get nowhere. It is like scooping up water with sieves and eating soup with forks. Circumstances drive and mold them rather than their driving circumstances. The problem is not necessarily working harder but using -------------- to better advantage.
The word "simplify" is the starting point for getting more things done. The gospel of Jesus Christ simplifies a man's life—the minister included! Many a frustrated pastor blames the organization for his perplexing situation. All too often the problem is with self. Paul made this clear to Timothy when he declared in 2 Timothy 2:4, "No man that warreth entangleth himself with the affairs of this life." When the minister stands up by the grace of God and bluntly avoids all diversionary tactics of the devil, the real work to which he has been called will be done more efficiently and with less pressure. Before Luther broke with Rome he made a list of his convent activities, among which appeared the following: "Inspector of the fish ponds at Litzkau." How many of us permit our time and attention to be diverted to endless trivialities while a world awaits our message of salvation?
Our goal is to learn to segregate the essential from the nonessential. The industrialist Henry L. Doherty said, "I can hire men to do everything but two things: think and do things in the order of their importance." Deciding what to eliminate from our busy life and schedule sometimes is far more important than what we decide to do. Don't enervate your initiative; rather concentrate on things that count. Henry Ford put it mildly when he observed, "The number of needless tasks that are performed daily by thousands of people is amazing." To repudiate any and all inspector-ofthe-fishpond-like activities is not only desirable but a necessity.
ORGANIZATION is a blessing. It is a sign of orderly thinking and makes possible the execution of a plan with dispatch and efficiency. God is a God of order. He is, therefore, organized, and His work should be organized.
The program of God is not a group of isolated disciples, working at cross purposes with one another, each doing what is right in his own eyes. Such anarchy accompanying the work of God is inconceivable. Conversely, inherent within an organization is the danger of impersonality. The sensitivities of interpersonal contact are often lost. It is thus that an organization, religious or otherwise, becomes cold and formal. Machinelike, its movements are sluggish and predictable. For this there is but one unfailing cure—evangelism born of love. It is while working for others that our own hearts are warmed. In working to save others we are most likely to strengthen our own spiritual experiences.
The unhappy among us are the idle or the displaced. Yes, we are either not doing what we are supposed to do or we are doing what we were never ordained to do.
E. E. C.