Doing The Difficult Thing Adds Value

There are two types of organizations. Two types of churches. One assumes customers or members. Its leaders see their role as stewards of what is. Others believe passionately about their mission. Their products will change the way people live for the better. Their gift of spirit will lead people to better lives.

The first is easy. The second one often challenging. The first leads to the path of decay and organizational death. The second leads to energy, growth, kindling that passion in others…and others.

Seth Godin made his mark as a marketing guru in high technology. He wrote recently:

Of course it’s difficult…
Students choose to attend expensive colleges but don’t major in engineering because the courses are killer.

Doing more than the customary amount of customer service is expensive, time-consuming and hard to sustain.

Raising money for short-term urgent projects is easier than finding support for the long, difficult work of changing the culture and the infrastructure.

Finding a new path up the mountain is far more difficult than hiring a sherpa and following the tried and true path. Of course it is. That’s precisely why it’s scarce and valuable. 

The word economy comes from the Greek and the French, and is based on the concept of scarcity. The only things that are scarce in the world of connection and services and the net are the things that are difficult, and the only things that are valuable are the things that are scarce. When we intentionally seek out the difficult tasks, we’re much more likely to actually create value.

Think of his comment about raising money relative to your church or non-profit. I am. It is condemning of the approach I took over in my ministry. Buffeting from project to project. No real stability or plan for growth. No real involvement from the larger group. No commitment to the hard work of a sustaining ministry.

What is scarce these days is attention. I wrote yesterday about distraction. We have so much information–24-hour news channels, 24-hour sports, the Internet, apps, check Facebook every couple of minutes–when do we have time to put our attention, our focus, on what’s important?

What sort of leader are you? Do you need a kick start? Take time to focus our attention completely, if only for 30 minute time slots, on thinking about the long, difficult work? Or just slide along becoming ever more comfortable in a state of distracted disinterestedness?

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