The Paranoid Ones

I was talking to a friend who is a business owner and he’s facing what we’re all facing:

A new norm.

When the sun is shining and there’s more than enough to go around one can employ any number of strategies for running a business and likely survive.

The great leveller with the far reaching effects of COVID-19 is that it changed the rules for everyone at the same time.

For those in church world this is the first time in our country where we all can’t meet like we normally do.

All face to face business is impossible.

Movement is restricted.

Hobbies involving people are done.

English soccer is over, and what are the chances on the year Liverpool were so far ahead it would take a pandemic to stop them?? Did Manchester United fans bring this upon us all? I suspect so. (Hopefully humour is still allowed these days:)

Necessity is the mother of invention, but that said on a sunny day when one is pontificating while bbqing in one’s backyard about a small device they created to fix their sprinkler system (guilty) isn’t quite where that statement came from I think…

Necessity is the mother of invention shaken up with one part desperation and two parts “We’re not going to make it unless we….” takes on a whole new meaning.

There are those who (innocently enough) will hold firmly to the belief that “everything will go back to the way it was in a few months”, but mostly because that’s what they have to believe to get out of bed the next morning.

My wife described me as a “Positive Realist” the other day. I used to describe myself as an Optimist until I heard a man who survived a prison camp say the optimists were the ones who died first, and I didn’t like that so I asked my wife “Am I an optimist?” hoping she would say no.

“No” she said, “You’re someone who deals with reality positively, but you’re also paranoid and have thought about all sorts of weird scenarios that helps you anticipate events and land on your feet. You just have a good attitude about it. That’s why we have buffer in our budget and church budget. You’re always preparing for a rainy day.”

Now, that all sounds great until one has to live with me. We say my family GETS to live with me because that sounds more positive. On a rainy day one can clearly understand someone freaking out about potentially crushing details, but on a sunny day it doesn’t make as much sense if you don’t share the vision of a paranoid entrepreneur.

Imagine going out for a romantic dinner and one person asks their spouse “Did you get our insurance adjusted like you said?” by way of small talk.

“No, I forgot.”

This married to a normal person is easily passed over, but not a paranoid entrepreneur.

“WHAT??? What if _____ happens tomorrow? This could cost us _____!!” (Guilty).

But to BE someone who doesn’t give in to the overwhelming pressures of the “Just Chill!” crowd while being in a decent and positive mood most of the time has likely been under appreciated until now.

Example: my friend is a type of person themselves who I’ve described above. The trouble is, he doesn’t have the leeway in the company systems to function properly because in the crisis his voice is one of many, but democracies that don’t acknowledge the gifts of the right people in the right time won’t have the luxury of surviving this.

The companies that find a way to flex and pivot will survive and go on to thrive because this will be a huge pruning process. The companies that are lumbering bureaucracies and take weeks to make hard decisions because the individuals in positions of power are only thinking in the short term, or about their pay check this week will lose ALL ability to provide for any employees, and lose the service they bring to their city.

The new norm.

One must now make themselves invaluable to their companies but there is no handbook for how to do that without breaking past rules that no longer apply. Some people thrive in chaos and bring order and whoever finds these people and emulates them might just make it.

But most of us weren’t born to do that.

This will be hard for the heart-people because equal opportunity to them might mean “everyone deserves to get hired” more than “everyone deserves an opportunity to be hired, but may the best man/woman win!”. What happens when thirty percent of jobs get cut and there’s not enough work to go around?

My wife is a heart person and constantly reminds me why I got into the business of helping people. “Corey, you have to understand how people FEEL!”. Fair enough and she’s right.

But I’m the guy who has to understand that most churches don’t go under or lose their effectiveness altogether because they don’t love people, they lose it because they lose their ability to make hard choices along the way that allow them to love people best over time.

For instance. Most churches fail because of business reasons. Most companies do too. Having the wrong people functioning in the wrong roles is not sustainable, but also not honouring to them either. Many of us have lost the driving need to be able to speak truth because we are pursuing the trap of being perceived as nice.

There’s no worse sin to a Canadian than the accusation by another that we weren’t nice!

But the truth hurts sometimes.

Our success as a family is not Erin and I allowing our kids to function however it all works out in hopes they think we’re nice in the moment. This is just being lazy and wishful thinking.

No, we sweat and pray and guide and correct and protect, even if it means protecting them from themselves.

God, give us discernment in the months to come and the ability to keep our heads when those around us do not. Give us the ability to save our country’s people and our economy and remember the failings of human wisdom.

We need help now to positively deal with our new norm.

 

Pic from the movie SIGNS (2002)

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