Friday, December 11, 2009

Watch Where You're Going

About every two weeks or so, I see someone run a red light here in Springtown, USA. Most times, it's done in an incredibly consistent way.

It's at an intersection that has two lanes going straight each direction, and two lanes turning left each direction. Usually the green arrows to go left are given before the green lights to go straight. And so it cycles through: Left turners, then straight, left turners, then straight, etc etc.

Consistently, the car that runs the red light is the one in the left hand lane of the cars going straight. Because the car to the left of it (the one closest to its view) gets to go before them. So the driver of the car going straight sees a light change in their peripheral, and then sees the closest car to their perspective going, so they decide that they should be driving as well.

And they plow through the red light, into the intersection, into oncoming traffic making a left hand turn.

For real.

As I said, I see this at various intersections about 1 time every two weeks or so.

I've known friends who have done it.

I've almost done it.

And it's almost immediate that you have to decide to slam on the brakes while you're in the path of oncoming traffic, or soldier onward through the red light into traffic court glory.

Most cars choose the latter.

As I listed above the circumstances that surround this happening, the root cause is a bit simpler. The driver who makes the error is watching another driver more closely than they are watching where they are going.

They think that their travel plans are under control. That they're on auto-pilot. Just waiting for the light to turn.

So as a light turns, and the traffic moves, they go along with it. Only to realize that it's not their light, and the traffic is taking a different path than they are.

And now they're hosed.

I think this is an excellent parallel to so many personal issues.

We become so focused on what this other person is doing. We're paying more attention to them than we are to ourselves. We begin to follow what they are doing, completely ignorant as to whether their choices are appropriate for our circumstances or not, and it results in disaster.

This applies individually or corporately. Especially in church.

We're focused on the path, plans or programs of some other leader, some other church, some other organization and we attempt to duplicate their steps...only to find out far too late that the resources don't match. Or the programs are inappropriate for the specific environment, or the talents don't sync up.

It's amazing the type of atmosphere that can be created on "that" church's budget....or how amateurish it looks when you try to do the same thing with a staff of 2 instead of 11 and a budget 1/20th the size.

That program is turning left through the green arrow, and we try to follow...despite our path pointing us in a different direction.

Sometimes it could be that we're just impatient. They get to go first. Why can't we go at least right after them? If not at the same time? Sometimes jealousy plays a role. Or confusion as to what our path should be and so we just follow something that someone else has done that we know has worked elsewhere.

And whether we take this individually or corporately, this just results in bad news all over the place. We find ourselves frustrated and disappointed by the comparisons we have created. We're attempting to keep up with whomever "the Joneses" is for us, and it's never enough.

We need to stop the comparisons, and pay attention to what our specific paths are that are laid out for us and not for someone else.

As I said to Adam Swenka last week while we found ourselves using adjacent urinals "Keep your eyes on the road, sir."