The Manager In Your Mind

You know when you go to a restaurant and there’s a wait. You go up to the host and ask how long the wait will be. What do they say? They say the same thing every time, right? “It’ll be about ten or fifteen minutes.” Somehow they’ve decided that people are willing to wait ten or fifteen minutes…but not twenty. That’s too long! So they always say “ten or fifteen minutes” knowing that you’ll stay there for a seat…even if it really takes twenty minutes.

Then, at some point in the wait, it happens. You see a table open up. But it’s just sitting there. No one’s cleaning it off. No one is rushing to get it ready. You’ve been waiting! Why aren’t they seating you?! There’s a table open!!!

That’s the moment when we all become restaurant managers, even if we’ve never worked in food service before. They need to hire more staff. Why don’t they expand their dining room? They need to train better. They should do call-ahead-seating like Chili’s does. Ah Chili’s – the great restaurant equalizer.

But anyway…

We all have these moments in our lives – whether at restaurants or somewhere else – when we become a manager. We see things going down and we jump to conclusions. We take over the position of manager in our mind and come up with twenty ways to fix it. With little or no experience, we are automatic experts.

Where else does this happen? A few other places that I’ve seen. One is school. Children come home that first week of school and we all seem to have a Masters of Education. Why do they send home so much homework? Why don’t they send home more homework? Why are they reading that book? Why don’t they teach cursive anymore? Who really needs algebra???

But here’s the things, parents: unless we’re educators, we really don’t know better…we just think we know better. Until we go around the counter and do the job that we are criticizing, we can’t fully appreciate how hard that job is.

This whole process of assuming we know better is like managing in our minds. We take on the role of manager without any of the responsibilities or instruction. Why does a certain business do what they do? If we asked enough questions we’d find out that they have a pretty good reason for it. It may be an inconvenience once in a while, but that doesn’t mean they should change just for you.

And the same goes for our churches. I’m guilty of this. Having spent over 20 years in church ministry, I think I know better. I jump into the manager role as soon as I walk into any church. I can usually point out five things wrong with any church within three minutes of passing through their doors. And I’ve already got a 9 Step Process for Turning Things Around power point ready to go. Now, where’s the pastor?

When we manage in our mind we’re usually unwilling to work with our feet. When we take the time to ask questions, see that good ideas are being put to use, and that there’s a reason for everything that’s being done, we generally turn down the volume on the management side of our brains.

When was the last time you tried to manage in your mind? What can you do to put a quick stop to it next time?