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Purpose or Proxy

Have you noticed the motivational slogans executives place in their office? A Realtor had this sign: “Not following up with your prospects is the same as filling up your bathtub without first putting the stopper in the drain.” (Michelle Moore)

At the auto dealership, one salesman displayed this sign: “Sales are contingent on the attitude of the salesman, not the attitude of the prospect” (W. Clement Stone). Then, there was this sign in the office of a high school counselor: “The key to success: Do Stuff!”

Recently, I was in the office of a manager of a small corporation. His prominent sign stated the philosophy of his business in five succinct bullet points:

  • True CUSTOMER obsession

  • Focus on RESULTS - resist proxies

  • Embrace external TRENDS

  • Make DECISIONS quickly

  • Serve with ENTHUSIASM

Each statement was powerful, but I asked him to clarify “resist proxies.” The manager explained that these thoughts were based on the wisdom of Jeff Bezos, founder of Bezos said, “As companies get larger and more complex, there’s a tendency to manage to proxies.”

One “proxy” is process. Process is the procedure that is initiated to win customers. But over time, we tend to make following the process as our goal, whether it gets customers or not. A business can die if it is trapped in process and not fulfilling its purpose.

Another example of “proxy” is customer surveys. While it is helpful to know if you are meeting the needs of your customers, you must always be looking ahead at their future needs.

That evening in devotions, the Lord reminded me of the main purpose of His Church. In part, the Church is supposed to worship God, glorify Christ, study His Word, pray, love and encourage each other, celebrate Water Baptism and the Lord's Supper, and evangelize the world.

The question is, are we fulfilling these purposes of God or are we being distracted by “proxies"? Is the process of the church stifling the purpose of the church? Having been a pastor for many years, I know about the process. Committees, boards, long range planning, administering finances, obtaining purchase orders, endless reports, staff issues, and so much more can cause leadership to manage to proxies instead of purpose.

And then there is the “proxy” of customer surveys. While it is important to have a happy church, leadership must be ready to advance in faith when God requires change. Church members occasionally resist change. But we cannot manage only to this “proxy.” God is always calling us forward, and that may not be reflected as a positive in our surveys.

When we focus on spiritual results and resist being overwhelmed by proxies, we can better understand if our local church is fulfilling our purpose as stated in 1 Peter 2:9-10, Acts 2:42, Colossians 3:16, and Matthew 28:19-20. Think it over!

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