Posted: August 5, 2016 by Rob Voyle
"People were created to be loved. Things were created to be used. The reason why
the world is in chaos is because things are being loved and people are being
used." - Dalai Lama
It has become common in business circles to hear leaders say something like:
"our employees are our greatest asset, or in churches our staff or parishioners
are our greatest asset.
At first glance that seems to be an affirmation of employees or parishioners
until we reflect on what we do in the United States with our assets: We leverage
them, trade them, sell them, deplete them, mine them, and all sorts of things
that I wouldn't want done to me.
Several years ago when I was in West Virginia I heard people complaining about
strip mining, which I to typically think is bad for the environment. However my
reaction at the time was to think the strip miners were real wimps in comparison
to the ways I have seen many churches strip mine the emotional and spiritual
environments of their parishioners and employees. And it is not only churches as
many businesses also strip mine and burnout their employees.
When people experience burnout that tells me some one has been strip mined. They
have been working in a way that is not ecological, in the physical, emotional
and spiritual realms they inhabit.
Thinking of people as assets is a first step on the path to dehumanizing and
strip mining them. It is the beginning of legitimizing treating people
One of the assumptions of the Appreciative Way is that "our language creates our
reality." The usage and meaning of words also changes over time so their impact
will also change. What we need to do is pay attention to the outcome of our
language and not the intention of our language.
Rather than thinking of people and especially employees and parishioners as
assets, think of them as treasures. Take a moment and remember a time when you
were treasured. What was that like? ...
I know I would rather be treasured than treated like an asset.
I will also acknowledge that in our history we haven't treated the treasures of
others very well, but for now I like treasuring and being treasured rather than
using or being used.
Who do you know that needs to be treasured?
What is one thing you could do to treasure them?
For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.
Director, Clergy Leadership Institute
P.S. Please let me know if you are interested in sharing in my act of cultural
sedition and hosting a Forgiveness Training program in your church.
The Rev. Dr. Rob Voyle is a leader in the development and use of appreciative inquiry in church and coaching settings.
Rob's Approach to Training