Hole in the roof

Let’s read the story of Jesus and the people who cut a hole in the roof to get their sick friend to him for healing.

(This is in the American Standard Version, which is from 1901 and thus free to use. Please feel free to use any translation you like for a more understandable version. The website BibleGateway is very helpful for switching between translations.)

Mark 2:1-5
And when he entered again into Capernaum after some days, it was noised that he was in the house. 2 And many were gathered together, so that there was no longer room for them, no, not even about the door: and he spake the word unto them. 3 And they come, bringing unto him a man sick of the palsy, borne of four. 4 And when they could not come nigh unto him for the crowd, they uncovered the roof where he was: and when they had broken it up, they let down the bed whereon the sick of the palsy lay. 5 And Jesus seeing their faith saith unto the sick of the palsy, Son, thy sins are forgiven.

Imagine the scene. Jesus is home, and everybody has found out. He wants some rest, but the crowds won’t let him. They are desperate for his message and his healing.

Now imagine yourself in the scene. You are there, with all those people.

Read the passage out loud, and see what sticks out for you. Does anything resonate with what you are experiencing now? Does anything seem confusing? Ask God to help you understand it.

Do you identify with any of the characters?

Are you Jesus just trying have a moment of peace? He was constantly trying to have some time for himself, and the crowds were forever finding him. We all need time to recharge. Do you feel like you are constantly helping others yet never taking time for yourself? Where do you go to fill your cup?

Are you one of the four friends desperate to take care of your friend who is sick? How do you feel? How long have you been carrying him? We carry our friends in prayer to Jesus. Who is on your prayer list? How long have they been there?

Are you the friend who is on the litter, suffering from palsy? How does the bed feel? Are you anxious because your friends have lifted you up really high? How do you feel about going to see Jesus this way? Excited? Anxious? Embarrassed? Sometimes we need healing so badly that it takes desperate measures to make it happen.

Are you a member of the crowd? Are you right up close, packed in tight, or further towards the edge, where you can’t hear very well? What do you see? What do you hear? Do you want to get further back, or closer?

Are you Jesus’ parents, wondering how his ministry got so big? Did you expect the crowd would be so large? How are you going to pay for the roof to be repaired?

It’s okay to identify with several of the characters.

Think about the roof. Have you ever had to go in an unusual way to seek healing?

Think about the friends. The person who needed healing wasn’t even able to get there. His friends carried him there. Do you have friends like that? Are you that kind of friend?

Notice it was because of the faith of the friends that Jesus healed the sick man. The sick man didn’t have to do anything. How does that make you feel?

Jesus often says “Your faith has healed you.” Think about that. What does that mean to you?

People aren’t pieces – on management

Don’t ask an employee an opinion if they can’t say no. It is a waste of time and fools them into thinking that management cares. When they realize that their answer meant nothing and wasn’t considered, they will feel betrayed. Then they won’t trust anything else that comes from management, and the team isn’t a team anymore.

Sometimes the employee realizes that the only answer that is acceptable is “Yes, that is a great idea!” even if they know it is a terrible one. Sometimes it is simpler to go along and pretend that it is going to work out even if you know from years of experience that it is not. If you argue, you are the squeaky wheel, and you won’t get grease, you’ll get the axe.

Now, nobody wants a curmudgeon. Management doesn’t like an employee who fights against change just because it is change. But we all hate “Yes-men” as well. We hate people who agree to anything just to suck up. So there has to be a middle ground.

Working together on a project as a group is important. We all have to be rowing in the same direction if we want the boat to go straight. We’ll be dead in the water if the people doing the rowing (the workers, not the management) don’t know where they are going. If they feel betrayed and lost enough, they might be actively working against the change. It is up to the leader to earn the trust of the team, rather than just crack the whip.

New managers would do well to take time to get to know the rhythms and patterns of the departments they are assigned to lead. If they have never done the job that their team does, they need to do it. They need to see for themselves what works and what doesn’t. They also need to show the team that they know what they are talking about. No team member trusts a manager who gives directions who doesn’t know how to do their job.

If the manager has done the job that their underlings are doing, but at another building, she needs to come at it with fresh eyes. Different franchises do things different ways, even if they are supposed to do them the same. Sometimes the different ways are better. Sometimes they make more sense for that location. Saying “But we did it this way at my old place” will only get more pushback, because you aren’t there anymore.

One of the fastest ways to ruin trust is to start making big changes right away without consulting the people who have been there a long time. They know from experience what will work and what won’t. They are also the people who are going to have to implement those changes, so they need to be in agreement with them or they won’t get done. If they can’t understand them, they will be unable to do them. If the new changes are impossible to do then they won’t happen either. Management can’t know what won’t work if they don’t allow employees to be honest, or do the same job as the employee. You can’t change a boat’s direction midstream without people falling into the water and drowning.

It is important to remember that people spend more time at work than they do at home. Most of the hours spent at home are asleep, so they don’t count. 40 hours a week with people you didn’t choose to be with is hard. Changes made to the workflow, environment, or polices at the workplace are far-reaching. They affect the morale and psyche of the employees, especially if they have been there a long time. It is the same as going into a person’s house and redecorating without their permission. They won’t know where anything is. They won’t feel settled. They won’t know their place. Then, instead of improving workflow, you’ve just halted it.

Big changes can result in trauma. Trauma occurs when something huge and unexpected happens that feels unfair and unjust. Everything that you knew to be true is now up for grabs. Nothing makes sense. There is a sense of betrayal and loss of trust. People who are experiencing trauma feel like ships lost at sea, with no guidance and no security.

A good manager, like a good captain of a ship, gets everybody working together and in the same direction. It takes time to build up that level of trust. People don’t respect the title or the position. They respect the person – and they can’t respect what they don’t know. They need to know that you are fair, you can be trusted, and you know what you are asking them to do. They need to know that the changes you are asking them to implement are necessary and helpful and not arbitrary. They need to know that their opinion, experience, and input matters. Mostly, they need to be treated as unique and important people, and not cogs in a machine. People aren’t pieces.