THE PROPER CARE AND FEEDING OF MONKEYS
The biggest problem that pastors tell me they face is in the area of management. A pastor is a manager; a principal is a manager; a supervisor is a manager; a monitor is a manager. It’s people managing people. Management and interpersonal relations: these are the biggest problem areas. This session is designed to treat the principles of management and relate these to our responsibilities. In other words, we want to share with you some principles of “monkey business.”
First, let’s define management. Management is the art and science of achieving planned objectives through the active support of other people. It’s people working with people to achieve these objectives or goals. Good management, then, involves certain principles and being able to use certain principles: “delegating priorities most efficiently, economically, and diplomatically.” If you are going to be a good manager, you’ve got to learn how to use diplomacy. You must learn how to be economical. You must learn how to be efficient. These are things that we learn by experience; we just don’t necessarily learn them out of a book. If we do, then we have to use them and experience the results from them.
You can be a good manager. If you are a principal, pastor, supervisor, or monitor, you can be a good manager. We experience the pitfalls of monkey business too frequently, and so what we want to do is share some illustrated principles that demonstrate the pitfalls of monkey business.
We said, “Management is goals, it’s people, it’s time, and it’s priorities.” We have to learn how to establish priorities because we all have a limited amount of time. That’s one thing nobody has any more of than anybody else.
Here’s a little formula that will eliminate all your problems in your school and your church. Get rid of all the people, and you’ve eliminated all the problems! It’s people working with people achieving goals: that is management.
There are organization goals and there are personal goals. You have organizational goals that are immediate and that are long-ranged. You have personal goals that are immediate and that are long-ranged. If you can define your goals and establish a program to achieve them, then you have personal responsibilities working on a team.
CHAIN OF COMMAND
The pastor is at the top, then the principal, then the supervisor, then the monitors, and under monitors are the students and their work responsibilities. The further you go up the ladder, the broader is the scope of responsibilities.
Going up the ladder you have superiors; coming down the ladder you have subordinates, and each person functions within the chain of command interrelating on the basis of certain principles. When these principles are violated, they are indiscretions that cause frustrations. There are little indiscretions sown in the fall that begin to sprout in the winter and produce fruit in the spring that we eventually find hard to live with. It’s not the big problems; it’s usually the little problems. It’s the “little foxes that spoil the vines”; it’s the little complications that become big complications in interpersonal relations, and these we call MONKEY BUSINESS.
First, a MONKEY is whatever the next responsibility is when dialogue between two parties breaks off. There are delegated responsibilities and then there are implied responsibilities and we need to learn how to grasp both. For every monkey there are two parties: one to delegate it and one to supervise it or feed it. When you became a part of the team, there were certain monkeys that had your name, and it was your responsibility to feed them. And every day there are new monkeys coming into the picture for which you have the responsibility.
What is monkey feeding? There are two parties: one to delegate it and one to supervise or to feed it.
“Monkey FEEDING: action taken to fulfill delegated and implied responsibilities.” Now, whoever is asking, “How’s it coming?”–that’s the manager, that’s not the supervisor or the one who is feeding it. To fulfill responsibilities, there are certain levels. The further you go up the chain of command the bigger are the monkeys; the further down, then the monkeys are smaller.
Let’s look at an illustration of an INDISCRETION: one of “the little foxes that spoil the vines.” Brother Guston meets Pastor Church in the hall and says, “Pastor, we’ve got a problem.” Now, the monkey hangs suspended between the two, waiting to see, “Am I going to ride down the hall with Brother Church or am I going to go back to the classroom with Brother Guston?”
Technically, only the boss can say, “We’ve got a problem.” The subordinate says, “I’ve got a problem.” It’s bad manners at worst and it’s an indiscretion at best. You see, when a superior relieves a
subordinate of a responsibility by accepting his monkeys, then the superior becomes distrustful and frustrated. Brother Church says, “Yes, tell me about our problem, Brother Guston.” Brother Guston replies, “Do you remember that boy yesterday who broke the window? We called his mother and she came down here just pitching a fit. We’ve got all kinds of problems, Pastor.” He said, “Don’t worry about it, Brother, you go back to the classroom and I’ll take care of it. I’ve got it; it’s just as good as settled.”
Brother Guston turns around and walks back towards the classroom; he’s walking a little bit lighter. The preacher turns around and as he is walking back to his office he feels like he’s got a companion, something new has been added. He’s got one riding along there on his shoulder that he didn’t have when he met Brother Guston in the hall. As Brother Guston goes back to the classroom, he feels guilty because he has turned one of his monkeys over to the pastor to feed.
Next day, Brother Guston meets Brother Church in the hall, and Brother Guston asks, “Pastor, how’s it coming?” (unfortunately) He shouldn’t have said that because now Brother Church becomes defensive; he’s frustrated, and he realizes that he cannot feed all the monkeys he has been picking up. He’s got problems. Now, this is an indiscretion.
Proverbs 3:21b says, “Keep sound wisdom and discretion.” That verse of Scripture implies two things: not only that you’re capable of keeping it but that you are responsible to keep it.
Learn how to list your responsibilities, learn how to establish priorities, learn how to delegate where appropriate, develop the people under you, discover their strengths and brag on them, help them to solve their problems, do it now. Learn that routine: good management. You know what is going to happen? God is going to give you a gorilla!
“Thou hast been faithful in a few things, I will make thee ruler over many.” You ought to move up.
Now, do you have to be a boss to get a gorilla? No, you don’t. What is a gorilla? A gorilla is getting the full responsibility for self management. Now, think about that for a minute. You take
responsibilities and build your talent management and you will achieve the right for self management. And then Jesus comes back and says something like this, “For unto whomsoever much is given, of him shall be much required.” (Luke 12:48b) Responsibilities?
The greatest thing in this life is to serve the Lord. I wouldn’t trade it for anything else: the opportunity to serve the Lord, the privilege to serve the Lord, and the responsibility to serve the Lord. And, as you’re faithful in the service that God gave you, He’s going to give you greater responsibilities–“Greater things than these.” You will be moving up the ladder, and God will bless you. My, won’t it be great when we stand before the Lord someday and He passes out the rewards based upon faithfulness?
(The above material was published by (ACE) Accelerated Christian
Education, Inc. in 1976.)
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