Marvin Repinski: We are all managers

Published 6:30 am Saturday, August 28, 2021

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“The kingdom of Heaven is like a treasure lying buried in a field. The man who found it, buried it again; and for sheer joy, went and sold everything he had and bought that field.” A parable spoken, we are told, by Jesus. (Matthew 13:44)

All across the globe every human being is a manager. I include all persons who are capable of reasoning out what to do, say, or how to act.

A manager is a person who is involved in a kind of leadership role. My reflections are an extension of some paragraphs I wrote for a prior issue of the Austin Daily Herald.

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I am a manager. I have had to ask for reconsideration; for forgiveness an ample number of times for shortsightedness. In most instances do I float my energies to a God and beg for forgiveness? Begging, in my mind, is not a positive quality for the dignity I wish to aspire to. “So,” you say. “who is the act of asking forgiveness aimed at?” Answer: “Myself!” That is, for me, the most long-lasting action that helps me move on.

My “missing the mark,” I certainly acknowledge that contrition before God is another matter. My contrite heart is in that spiritual zone.

Place yourself in my shoes please in a recollection I share as a manager. Often the unexpected jumps out at you. Do you have skills to respond? I found a few in my repertoire that came to the surface in an emergency. It may happen to you also!

While pastoring a Methodist church in an out-state area I lived with my family in a home a brief walk from the church. With keys in hand, I came to open the church door on the education complex at the back of the sanctuary. The shock I had was looking through the glass door at dark smoke. I immediately called the fire department and leaders of the church. Fire! The burning had crept through several rooms; the space was dark, flames could be observed, primarily from the furnace room. The door had burst open, I assume, because of the heat.

Eventually the fire in several areas was extinguished (always, thank you to police and fire departments!) The restoration took six months and everything had to be moved to other quarters with replacements. Who is in charge? Why, in part, Pastor Marvin!

The multiple decision-making and managing tested every knowledge, skill set, public relations and talents I could muster. The hour-by-hour, day-to-day, month-by-month progress of rebuilding was a challenge to me and a score of church members, neighbors, insurance persons, lumber and supply stores, and the neighboring Lutheran Church. That church came to the rescue on many fronts (Thank you, dear Lutherans!) Worship services and education classes were held in their facility.

Question: “How did it start?” “Arson?” “Not thinking wisely?” Without blame, the act that began the process of a fire, was flammable material rolled up and placed in the furnace room. Not smart. For a week or more, the sanctuary, with a fairly high ceiling with huge beautiful support beams, varnished wood, I assume, exquisite wood panels on the interior walls were refreshed with glossy liquids and varnish.

Now about the fire. Placed on or over pews, and all over exposed items of the sanctuary were huge sheets of plastic to catch the dripping or dropping of the liquid materials. Job done. Wonderful. “Give us a week or so to dry,” said Norbert or? The sheets of plastic, some with the flammable substance, were rolled up when finished with the arduous task. But what to do with the rolled up sheets? “Not in the classrooms — it will stink up the place,” said Marilyn. “The furnace room is a good place,” said Donny. So management is often born out of necessity. If you dream to acquire a special career that involves leadership, you will work all your life — even in retirement, to improve, to grow, to advance, to learn to be available and productive. Training, cooperation, being able to work with others and to set goals for yourself and your team are essential.

“But, I’m not a manager,” you say to your dad or someone on your soccer team. Come off it. You are a manager. Did you make a choice of what to eat for breakfast or decide what color T-shirt, what set of earrings, or tie you want to wear for the day?

For the past three weeks I’ve been reading one of those three for a dollar books I purchased at the Austin Salvation Army. Bargains? Take a chance; the clerks will welcome you.

Reading materials or gaining information on leadership comes in many packages. Richard H.K. Victor has written the book “How Countries Compete.” Published by Harvard Business School Press, Boston, Massachusetts, it offers the kind of information we need. One of the chapters which is very informative, is on the leadership and management of South Africa. We can learn from the experience of other people, institutions, churches, governments, schools, our own talents, ambitions, and the horizons we set. I quote: “If South Africa truly is to be a developmental state, its government must craft and implement an effective strategy, resting on a structure of institutions now emerging.”

Part of the encouragement Dr. Victor writes about a number of principal nations of the world. Many of the details could be modified or, with energy, be applied to our lives. Worldwide, each citizen learns to be leaders that manage what is at hand and bring the satisfaction we desire.