Monday, February 26, 2018

The Blame Game

UPDATE: After I wrote this, the person in the office with Kids Klub did go back to work, call the school, and the food company, and tracked down how the mistake happened. She then offered to work with them to transfer the money from the lunch account, but that would leave us owing nearly as much to the school to pay for kids lunches. I am keeping this up because I think it something good to think about in human relations and business practices, as well as just the way our world is going.  I also want to say that the Kids Klub gal really proved herself to be top notch.

I just got off the phone with a gal working for Kids Klub with the school district. She insisted we were owing them nearly two hundred dollars. In the end she was right. We do owe her two hundred dollars. We owe the money because our payment of the bill was applied to the wrong account.

Each month we are given a little copied and printed 1/4 page voucher with our kids' names and how much we owe Kids Klub, and after school program of our school district. We are told to bring payment into the office at the school, or hand it in to the staff person when we pick the kids up. Last year they provided us with a yellow envelope to insert our payment into. This year, we have had no envelope. This fact will be important to understand later.

So we have brought our money into the office, stated it was for Kids Klub. It has Kids Klub on the check. However, some of the checks, having cleared the bank, did not show up in the accounting for the Kids Klub with their Quick Books. What happened to the money we gave them? Was it embezzled by the twentysomethings that lead the group. Was it lost in space?

Finally, an idea came to me. Our kids have been getting a lot of hot lunches lately. (The wife is a hot lunch fan. I prefer the kids eat cold lunches. So the kids choose what they want instead). Perhaps, when the secretary got the money, even with kids klub on the front of the check, it got applied into the wrong account. The accountant for Kids Club suggested I look at the stamps on the back of the envelopes placed there by school district accounting when they deposited the checks. Sure enough, the money was applied to the "cafeteria fund" by the school district instead. I had to spend $4 chasing down old checks to figure this out, and looking six lines down the endorsement stamp for which fund it went to. 

What was frustrating was at the end the woman in the office told us that we needed to go into the office and tell them to give us the yellow payment envelopes for their fund. It became very obvious that they were working to shift blame to us for the problem. I said we would be glad to use the envelopes, as we had done last year, but they were not provided. (I was countering that they need to accept the blame and correct their accounting system.) I was told two more times that the yellow envelopes should solve our problem. The conversation ended amicably enough.

Now, I have been in the shoes of the woman on the phone, and I am not upset with her. She is doing her job. But perhaps she could have said something like, "We want to do things better for you, and it would really help us out if you went to the office and requested the yellow envelopes." instead of putting all of the responsibility and blame on me for their misallocation of funds.

I think in our overly contentious and litigious society we scared to take responsibility and shoulder some of the blame when problems come up. We are afraid we are going to be taken advantage of. So, instead of saying that the district accounting made an error, that they can't correct the error at this point, and we are going to have to pay what we owe their particular fund, they try and shift all the blame for finding the fund, and forcing their staff into procedural compliance to me. Again, not uncommon. But, perhaps in a lot of different areas of life we need to do better.

Friday, February 23, 2018

Returning to what strengthens me

It has been a while since I really invested myself in the discipline of blogging. Too long.

There were several reasons that I began this blog over 13 years ago. One was that I had a bunch of thoughts and ideas that would creep in my head, and then make their way out from my conscious memory. I needed a place to journal insights, thoughts, and such.

Another was that I wanted to write. Ever since I was little I have wanted to write. I have dreamed of publishing something for decades. Although I had some minor forays into published writing, this blog has been the venue where I have done the most work in this regard. As I wrote before, I saw that my communication skills and my writing skills both improved. Now, after not writing for a while, I feel they have atrophied a bit.

So, I am going to start this blogging journey again. It is a different world that in was back in 2004, but I think I still have a lot to say.

Please join me, visit with me, and help refine me as a writer, communicator, pastor and leader.

Saturday, February 17, 2018

Book Review of the Radical Pursuit of Rest by John Koessler

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The Radical Pursuit of Rest: Escaping the Productivity Trap
by John Koessler
ISBN 978-0-8308-4444-9
IVP Books
Reviewed by Clint Walker

Often, among circles of recovering workaholics you hear the phrase, "I am not a human doing, I am a human being". While most of time when I hear quips like this I think the person has spent too much time in therapy or reading self-help books, this particular phrase has a ring of truth to it.

There is a certain percentage of our congregations and our society who are literally working themselves to death, trying to do everything they can, and not taking time to rest, to have Sabbath, and to remember that our lives are about relationships and not what we produce.

It is to this group of people that John Koessler brings his book The Radical Pursuit of Rest. He argues that the church has uncritically adopted a culture of productivity, anxiety, and activity that runs counter to God's message of grace, peace and rest. He addresses some of the roadblocks to the healthy rhythm of rest and work head on. If you read this book you will discover how you often deceive yourself, thinking you are resting when you are really continuing to hurry and hustle. You will also see that Koessler addresses some of the impediments to rest head on, and with sage wisdom. He will show you how the theme of rest runs through Scripture, and how it is part of God's promise for his people. Radical Pursuit of Rest speaks directly to our hurried, frazzled souls, and seeks to show us another way.

I recommend reading this book highly, both on your own, and perhaps in a book club you are a part of .


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