My Life with God

Group Project Gone Awry

I read an article about getting along with others. It was well-written and well-timed. The level of disrespect among us is atrocious. It is sad we need the reminder to treat one another well, but that is the reality of where we are. As I read the article, I thought, “I feel like we learned this in kindergarten.”

We need review along the way—for getting along and so many other challenges. We need to continually sharpen our tools in working well with others—many others, not just the ones we agree with or enjoy. I don’t know if we’re just not getting it, or if we’re stubborn and rebellious and know exactly what we’re doing and don’t care about the damage we’re making, which is disheartening. I’m not talking about the people who are passive or disinterested.

Think about it as a classroom full of several small groups working on a project. Group projects are challenging, but they are part of life. We work together. In today’s culture, it’s as if we have invited people to segregate because of their interests. That’s not necessarily bad at times. When we do that with intention and respect, we can actually complement one another. For example, one group wants to spend its time organizing and implementing a plan to build a business. The other group wants to spend it’s time organizing and implementing a plan to build an organization. One wants to create and produce something. The other wants to provide more services than goods. Because of their slightly different approaches and focuses, they could end up working differently but ultimately helping one another in community because they meet different needs. They could check in with each other every now and then. Inspire one another. Challenge one another. Encourage one another.

Instead, we have groups circling up to try to protect everything they have. They are justifying every tactic they are taking. They are yelling at each other across the room. They are harming each other, and to be honest, they’re harming themselves. In their intense focus, they are missing out on the bigger picture of the goals. They’re getting distracted by a small piece of something and claiming it’s the hill they’ll die on. And they claim no one else can have another perspective. It’s not everyone involved, but the loudest are screaming and are drowning out those who are trying to pull them back to the broader perspective and purpose. So much time and energy is focused on proving they are right, everyone is out to get them, only they know the truth although they are focused on a very narrow provision of information. They want someone to feed them instead of feeding themselves, taking the time to do research, read a variety of perspectives, consider some influences instead of jumping to blame. 

And some are saying, “Can we focus here? Can we get back to what we determine is important? Are we getting distracted and losing influence in our fight for control?” And maybe that’s the most ironic thing about it all. It has become more about power and control than influence and change. The way we reach influence matters. When we want to help others and make a difference, if we get to a position of power in the wrong ways, we don’t have the influence that can be the most widespread. When we lose respect, we lose influence. We might still be able to power through and push and shove and bully our agenda. But will the agenda stick when we’ve isolated and destroyed people in the process? We’re creating a wide swath of carnage and resentment and distrust as individuals and as a group.

If you’ve read this post and think I’m taking a side of politics, reread it with a different context, because I’m not addressing a single current situation of turmoil. There is so much. We are doing this as we approach issues, groups, interests, and more. We are letting our need for control and power and preferences drive our character. Or perhaps it is just revealing the character that is deep within. What are you seeing in yourself? How much are you justifying? It’s time for each of us to be better. We get to do this thing called life together in this season with this generation. Let’s not waste it. Let’s not damage each other. Let’s not ignore or disregard others. Let’s put others first. Let’s listen. Let’s consider. Let’s love.