I Feel Terrible for the Trees

I Feel Terrible for the Trees

It seems like every day I get a ton of irrelevant mail.  Most of the time, it doesn’t even get opened.  A lot of it is from my denomination.  Usually that kind of mail is offers for stuff we don’t need or don’t have have money for.  There is some committee somewhere out East that must sit in a room and dream up our context and then, whose job it is to tell us what we need to equip our people and to do what we are called to do.  Really?  The mail is either that or it is some plea for financial support for that same committee.  I feel terrible for the trees.  So much paper used in ways that bear no fruit.  If the tree had been left to stand, it would have borne real fruit.

Not once in twelve years has this committee, or staff, or whatever ever dialed up my number and asked me what we’re up to and what we think we need for support.  Okay, so a phone call costs money.  How about e-mail? Facebook?  I mean, I pay for my own internet service.  They could, too.  I’m sure they have it at home, if not at the office.  Not once in twelve years has anyone from that committee ever shot me an e-mail to say, “Hey dude, what are you up to these days? Need anything? Tell me something good.” Not once has anyone from this body ever come down here and worked with us in our missions or ministries.  I doubt anyone there even knows that “StreetLife Ministries” or “Despensa de la Paz” or “Heritage Court Ministry” even exist.  There seems to be a complete disconnection between those who are engaged in the mission and those whose actual paid job it is to support those people who are engaged in the mission.  This is basic leadership – you can’t lead people that you don’t talk to.  Basic stuff. So much paper wasted.  I feel so bad for the trees.

In the missional environment that I work in, we live and die by the principle that we seek out and listen to the person on the ground.  Let me say that again a little louder, “WE SEEK OUT AND LISTEN TO THE PERSON ON THE GROUND.”  If anyone is serious about effective leadership, please do these two simple and very basic things – seek out and listen to.  We seek out the person who is closest to the engagement between our mission and the world. We literally go out there and find them in person and talk to them face-to-face.  We talk to them at least once a week, if not once a day.  When we want to know what’s going on, we don’t sit in a cubicle and dream up an answer.  We put on some work boots and go get dirty with them and listen to what they are telling us they need.  They know what they need. They tell us what kind of training they need.  They tell us what funding and material resources they need. They tell us what they need prayer for specifically.  We get down on our knees with them right there on the street and pray with them for what they tell us they need prayer for.  They know the context of the situation, and context is everything.  We don’t “assume” because that makes an “a** (donkey) out of u (you) and me”.  I have seen some of the most beautifully prepared and packaged curriculum in an expensive color-glossy catalog, and not one item in it is relevant to our context or need.  How could it be? The writers never bothered to talk to us.

Leadership by assumption is insanity.  Trying to lead without tacit information soaked in context is ignorance.  Our job as leaders at this level (and thus at every level above us) is to support the people in the arena at the cutting edge of the mission. If we aren’t doing that, then we are irrelevant, and a waste of crucial resources.  How can we claim to support the people in the arena if we never talk to the people who are in the actual arena?  What do we think? …that we can dream up their needs better than they can tell us what their needs actually are?  As a result of the kind of “we’re the professionals – we know what you need” thinking that leads to this tremendous waste of paper, we go without needed resources (which is fine – God has always provided). But people’s hard-earned dollars that they think are going to the mission are being wasted on mailings that don’t even get opened anymore.  How can we, as a collective body claiming to represent Christ in the world, be led by people making six-figure salaries who have never even talked to the people on the ground who bear fruit for the Kingdom every day and don’t even have enough to eat? Led where? I think God will have something to say about that.  We do recycle, but I still feel terrible for the trees.

Sorry for the rant…actually…no, I’m not. But wow, the poor trees.  Somebody has to speak up for them.



  1. Jeff Said:

    Hmmm…when I read this there is an add for a luxury car brand at the end of it. Did you put that there or was that a God thing?

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