Fighting My Internal Legalist

I don’t often use my blog to list my faults, but I have felt especially convicted of one lately and wanted to share.  I am realizing more and more that my internal legalist is alive and well, and she takes control of my patience quite often.  I don’t like my internal legalist, but I know in some ways…it’s just the way I am wired! 

I like order and rules and marking things off lists. 
I like having a plan. 
I love deadlines. 
I like guidelines.
I like agendas.

I work best when I am on deadline and with a list of things I can check off.  And, because that is how I am wired, I often expect the same of other people.  Even if that is totally not how they are wired!  And, in my job, that is a hard line to walk sometimes.  If you know me at all, you know I wear…a few…different hats at my job.  I am business manager (crunching numbers, writing checks, keeping an eye on the budget), HR (insurance, new hires, vacation days, retirement, benefits) and communications (website, bulletin, enews, facebook).  Yes, that’s a lot.  And yes, on most days I can figure out how to manage most of it well…as long as people stay on deadline.

The nature of ministry, though, is that things come up.  ALL the time.  And my deadlines are often easy to change and push back.  And, honestly, my first response is often not a very nice one.  I get frustrated, and I get angry.  I want to not put their bulletin announcement in or write their check the next week, because they didn’t meet my deadline.  I want to make myself the most important part of the equation.  And then I am reminded, sometimes subtly, sometimes with force, that I am actually the least important part of the equation.  Even though there are habitual “offenders” that make me C-R-A-Z-Y, I know that my response to those situations is always MY CHOICE.  I can choose to be a legalist (which I feel like is my natural self) or I can choose to extend grace (which is a lot of work for me most days).

So, right now, it’s about finding that balance.  Because, I want to be angry and bitter and frustrated and annoyed when I have to change my schedule for other people (did you catch how many “I’s” are in that sentence?).  I want to hold that grudge a little longer and make people “pay” for making me change my life. 

And that is just plain wrong.

I should want to extend grace, to let other people be more important than me, and to let go of some of my expectations of people and deadlines.  I should accept that no one is ever going to be on time all the time, and let go of that Type-A part of me that clings so desperately to hard and soft deadlines.  Shouldn’t I?

In a job that requires deadlines to get the work done, on a daily and weekly basis, finding that balance is getting harder and harder.  How do you do it?

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