Friday, April 29, 2005


He is 94 years old and people still seek his counsel. Peter Drucker writes,

“In a few hundred years, when the history of our time will be written from a long-term perspective, I think it is very probable that the most important event these historians will see is not technology, it is not the Internet, it is not e-commerce. It is an unprecedented change in the human condition. For the first time—and I mean that literally—substantial and rapidly growing numbers of people have choices. For the first time, they will have to MANAGE THEMSELVES.”

Of course Drucker is speaking primarily to a Western audience. Americans value independence and self-reliance. In other societies, where the extended family or the clan provide support and guidance, self-management is not an ideal but is often condemned. Pulling together, in business or family, is the preferred way to live.

Though I do not believe capitalism and free-market economy is God ordained, it fits well with our American sense of pioneer rugged individualism. The concept of self-discipline, the rights of believer priest in each follower of Christ, can be found in the Scriptures. Our decisions are our own and no man will be able to stand before God and claim that we failed because of the decisions of others. In our society, those who blame others for poor decisions we call “playing the victim.” Though a person may indeed have a disadvantage growing up in an abusive or alcoholic family that does not give them license to practice irresponsible behavior.

Because of this independent mindset we Americans seem to have, it’s vital that, as self-managers, we seek out those who can help us in our decisions. I’m blessed to have a wife who helps me see my blind spots and who is not afraid to tell me when she thinks I’m wrong. Having grown children, I freely share my struggles and listen to their perspectives. I am very fortunate to have friends who I can call on who provide insights from an outsider’s point of view. Ultimately, I have to make the call. It goes without saying, that as a self-manager I must go to the Master and seek wisdom that can only come from above. Self-management doesn’t mean going it alone, it merely means that you do not rest on the decisions of others to manage your life.

Monday, April 18, 2005

Cabin Fever

Cabin fever is often a phenomenon that conjures visions of someone being trapped in the house for days because of a blizzard. With twelve feet of snow on the ground it’s not easy to get out of the house. No wonder spring is everyone’s favorite season as one can get out of the house, smell the flowers, and breathe fresh air again.

Right now I am in the beginning phase of cabin fever in India. Hardly due to cold or snow, it’s 104 degrees outside and by mid-May it will be an even more oppressive 115 degrees. All houses in this city of 12 million are made of cement blocks and living on the second floor we are blessed with all the heat that bears down. Our apartment retains the heat in its walls throughout the night, so if it cools down to 95 outside it will remain over 100 in our flat. With our one air conditioner churning all day, we pray the power doesn’t go off.

In such heat one does not easily get out of the house. Since we don’t own a car, if we go anywhere it’s by foot or auto rickshaw. One can actually get heat burn from riding in an open auto rickshaw when it’s 115 degrees. The dilemma is to suffer outside or continue to feel the walls moving in?

Ministry? Forget about it. From the middle of April to the first of June no one moves, unless it’s out of the city to a cooler place for summer vacation. This is the time to write, read and try to survive.

My greatest challenge during this time in India is recognizing that writing, re-working lessons I will teach in the fall, is as important as standing before a classroom. If a cross-cultural worker doesn’t have a sense of responsibility, to God and those who partner with him in the work, it would be easy to just drift. Having a good work ethic is to remember that if you don’t show up for work on Monday, you won’t get paid on Friday. Having cabin fever is no excuse for not showing up for work, it just makes it a little more challenging.

Thursday, April 07, 2005


A friend of mine noticed a blue plastic Wal-Mart bag with his name on it in the office of a co-worker recently. When he opened it up, it was from headquarters with a plaque and a standard note that said, “In recognition of ten years of service.”

My friends experience reminded me of one of my favorite Dilbert cartoons. Dilbert is standing in front of his boss, a fat, balding guy, with pointy hair.

“We’re giving you a promotion,” the boss tells Dilbert. “Your pay will remain the same but you will have more responsibility. It’s how we RECOGNIZE our BEST people.”

“I thought our BEST people left to join other companies,” Dilbert replies.

With a sense of resignation the boss sighs, “That’s ANOTHER way we recognize them.”