Cal Jernigan – Senior Pastor
“Are you deaf? Can you not hear that?”
Personally, I don’t hear well, but I couldn’t miss hearing this. You wouldn’t miss it. Nobody could miss it. Let me explain.
This week I spent time with some leaders from Central in Washington, DC. We were attending an event designed to impact our global priorities and processes. It was a great event. There were seminars, breakout sessions, panel discussions, viewing of documentaries, personal conversations, etc. I could go on and on about all that we heard. We went to listen and we heard – a lot!
But that’s not all we heard. What I want to tell you about is what we heard in a restaurant. It was simply unbelievable. We were all caught off guard when we first heard it. It was not something that someone said. In fact, it wasn’t about a someone; it was about a something. It was a door. Yep, a door. An unbelievably loud door.
Here’s the story. As a group we headed off one morning to a coffee shop for a quick bite of breakfast. As we entered the small and cramped restaurant we swung open the door to step in. When we did, the door let out a horribly loud screeching sound. It apparently wasn’t happy about us passing through. Its squawk was pure metal on metal; it was like dragging not fingernails, but a rake across a blackboard. It was a sound so loud, so long, and so irritating you couldn’t possibly ignore it. Except, that is, the people who worked in the restaurant. Apparently they could ignore it. I know this because they did ignore it. We couldn’t ignore the obvious–that they were indeed ignoring it!
Now get this! Right inside this door was the person who took your breakfast order. She was positioned less than three feet from this door. Her station was literally right inside this door! Less than ten feet from her was the guy cooking the breakfast. Two employees doing their job within but a few steps from the door—neither able to hear the obvious!
Wait, there’s more!
When we walked in, there was a lady sitting at a table with her fingers in her ears. Doesn’t this, just in itself, make eating breakfast difficult and dreadful? We got in line and as a few more people entered, we all (customers) couldn’t believe the noise this door was making. We all looked at each other. Who in the world would like to eat a meal with this incredibly annoying sound? It took us all just about a minute to decide to eat somewhere else. We decided to leave.
As we went to exit, we were surprised to discover the customer standing right next to the door had locked it. The CUSTOMER locked the door to the restaurant! When we noticed it was locked, he said he was sick of the sound of this door. We had to work together to get the door unlocked just to make our escape.
We quickly jumped into a different coffee shop and ordered breakfast. It was then that we all began asking the obvious questions: Why didn’t the people who work there fix this? How much business has to walk out before you correct a problem? How many customers have to be locked out before your realize the price you’re paying to ignore this problem?
What was seriously lacking here was a “bias for action.” What’s that exactly? It’s a willingness to jump in and solve a problem—to own it. A bias for action is what every business needs, every home needs, and every church needs. It is a willingness to hear the obvious and make corrections. Do you have it?
The sad truth is the people who worked at that restaurant, the ones who should have fixed the problem, probably no longer even heard the problem. Our best guess was they had simply grown deaf to the sound. They tuned it out so they wouldn’t be inconvenienced by the nuisance of “hearing.”
Any chance you or I are guilty of doing this same thing? What is it that everybody else clearly hears but us? Where have we stopped listening? What are the sounds we chose not to hear?
When will we listen?
Got any doors screeching around you? The price you are paying to not hear is probably far greater than you’ve ever imagined. Did you heart that?