To Lead People, You Have to Connect with Them. Here’s How.

After college, I worked third shift in a cheese factory. We would come into the factory at 10:00 p.m. and help run the machines that sliced, diced, and boxed several hundred thousand pounds of cheese each day. At the end of the night, we would stop the machines, tear them down, and clean them up. In the morning, we would put it all back together and get it all running again.

One good thing about working third shift is less bosses. The higher ups in the factory didn’t want to come in during the night. They would come in the following morning. Most of them said very little to us. I always felt like there was a pretty big separation between the managers and supervisors and those who worked on the floor.

Rob Sheloni, however, was different. He would take an interest in us. He would sit down in the break room and chat with us about our lives and the work. But the thing I remember most about him is that he would do something that pretty much nobody else would do. When we had a late night and had to turn things around quickly, he would pick up the high pressure hoses we used to clean the equipment, get wet, and help us get the job done on time.

Rob Sheloni could have asked me to do almost anything. I felt a connection with him, and I felt that he cared.

And if we want people to follow us, they have to feel like we have a connection with them. Continue reading “To Lead People, You Have to Connect with Them. Here’s How.”

Jesus Pursuing Zacchaeus

When I was young, I read and heard C.S. Lewis’ wonderful classic The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe (hereafter LW&W). As a young boy, I was moved by the story of Peter.

Peter’s story is the classic story of a young and inexperienced on a quest. This person has to grow up in order to take leadership in meeting a great challenge. It’s a story of growth, and it’s a story that we all love, whether its form is Annie, Star Wars, or James and the Giant Peach.

A few years ago, I read LW&W out loud to my children, and I made an astonishing discovery. This book is not really about Peter at all. It’s all about Aslan. The title is not Peter, the Witch, and the Wardrobe.. It is The Lion, W&W.

Throughout LW&W, the focus is on what Aslan is going to do or is doing. Aslan wins the victory. Yes, some of the Narnians and Peter fight, but their role is relatively minor. It’s Aslan who defeats the witch and wins the fight.

I think that some of the Bible stories are like that. In the case of Zachaeus, we, as wee little children, were fascinated by the wee little man Zacchaeus who climbed a tree, which was something we also loved to do.

However, the “Zacchaeus” story is not really about Zacchaeus. It is about Jesus. Zacchaeus is there, but it is Jesus who is pursuing Zacchaeus and making things happen.

Zacchaeus was a tax collector for the Roman Empire, and he was no doubt a hated man. Sometimes we try to think about who Zacchaeus represents in our modern world. I think he represents me . . . and you . . . and every other human being on earth.

The God who created the universe comes down in human form to connect with us. He goes right up to us in the midst of a crowd and says, “Wes” or “David” or “Zacchaeus, I’m coming to your house today. I want to have a relationship with you.”

The conclusion of the story tells us this: “For the Son of Man came to seek and to save that which was lost” (Luke 19:10).

It is God pursuing man.

Jewish Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel explains that this is what the Bible is all about. He writes, “Most theories of religion start out with defining the religious situation as man’s search for God . . . [but, a]ll of human history as described in the Bible may be summarized in one phrase: God is in search of man (emphasis his, God in Search of Man: A Philosophy of Judaism, p. 136).

The Christian faith concurs with this perspective and adds that God’s search is so intense that He became a human being. In Jesus, as the Zacchaeus story reveals, God is pursuing man. The God who made heaven and earth and governs it all in perfect wisdom is pursuing you.