Today I went in to the office of Ted Jacobsen, Medical Division Manager at Howard S. Wright Constructors, and went on a rant about the City of Portland for delaying a permit for a project we are currently working on. I was frustrated. After a lot of brain storming Ted said to me and another manager working on the project, that we need to go down to the permit office at the city and get the bureaucrats to "help" us. "Help" is not a motivation or ethic I associate with people at the City of Portland. When I go down to the permit office at the City the bureaucrats behind the permit counter are some of the most sour and unhappy people I have ever seen. I have never seen them as helpful, but I have felt pity for them. Ted had another take on these folks. He said, "People want to make a difference in life. If you go down there and show them some appreciation, talk with them, thank them, treat them as people who are the only one's who can help you, you will probably find that they will go on a mission for you. Why? Because people want to make a difference."
About an hour later I talked with my friend Randy Dalzell about the procurement of property he is working on in order to build an indoor sports arena. Randy is the Head Track Coach at Concordia University and Howard S. Wright is trying to help Randy and Mac Wilkins with their efforts to build this arena. Randy also has a lot of potential people out there waiting to jump on the ship to help him get this project built. I don't remember why I said this, but at one point in the conversation I reminded Randy that everyone wanting to participate in this building project is looking for something to gain from it, whether it is money, status, appreciation, etc. But, it struck me after I got off the phone that Ted's explanation is a far better perspective about what motivates people. "People want to make a difference in this life."
After these two conversations I knew that God was affirming this principle to me through Ted. These two conversations today made me turn Ted's statement upon myself as a question, do "I" want to make a difference with "my" life? Emphatically, Yes! I think this is why Ted's statement struck a cord with me. Why do people want to help Randy get the arena built? Why will people at the city permit office help me get that permit pushed through their bureaucratic channels? Why do we serve at our churches and in our communities? Why do we work to help our family members achieve their goals and potential? Well, it could be that the motivation is purely money, fame, a job, appreciation or some other personal "gain". However, at the motivational core of most people I run across, and within the desire of my own heart, it is because people want to make a difference in this life and in the lives of others, pure and simple. And you know what? The greatest personal gain from helping others achieve their goals is that it just feels good to help others! By the way, wasn't it Jesus who eptiomized this ethic,
"do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves. Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others. Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus: Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be grasped, but made himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself and became obedient to death - even death on a cross!" (Philippians 2:3-8)