I was once in a group of seven colleagues who had to work together on numerous projects. We were all the heads of our respective organizations and of equal status and authority. One, however, whom I’ll call Jim, did not understand that. He had been in that town the longest and thought that gave him some sort of primary role. To make it worse, he wanted to take the credit for our mutual projects but not do any of the work.
I was never too worried about who got the credit for a project, then or at any other time, except when someone wanted, like Jim, to take the credit without working. Then I didn’t mind who got the credit as long as it wasn’t Jim.
Jim opposed any project he did not originate. After discussion, we’d vote, and it was usually 6 to 1, Jim being the lone holdout.
The strange thing was that he never seemed to learn, and it never seemed to bother him. Every week and every project was the same, six to one.
Finally one of the older colleagues said, “I’ve seen this before. Some people just have to get the attention. It’s like a kid who acts out in order to get punished because it’s ignored otherwise. Getting a spanking is at least getting attention. Jim just wants us to have to go through him to get any place. Winning to him is not carrying the vote but being the bottle neck.”
I am a bottom line guy. I want to get the decision made with the least amount of discussion and the project started in the most efficient way. So I was never comfortable with Jim. But I learned to be patient. In the end, we both got our way. The rest of us had to go through him, which satisfied him, but once we did, we got to jump in and do a worthwhile project together, which satisfied the rest of us.
Jim has come often to mind in these days of the Trump presidency and the UMC General Conference. I’m ready for the part where we get to do worthwhile projects together.
John Robert McFarland
“Yesterday’s home run doesn’t win today’s game.” Babe Ruth