20 April 2012

Getting Schooled

"I'm not happy," she said, standing next to me. It was Monday, and I was at my computer, standing at the counter in the front office, trying to check the schedule to see if I could book a flight for someone who'd emailed me.

"Why?" I asked, turning to face her. My coworker, on the verge of tears, unleashed a torrent of Creole about how I had spoken to her on the phone on Saturday. I thought back. I had been in the grocery store, not in the mood to be dealing with work, trying to pick out Easter candy without paying an arm and a leg. She'd called because I had re-scheduled someone's flight to make room for an evacuation flight. He'd already paid and been given a receipt. In the interim, I'd found out he qualified for our humanitarian discount, so I changed it on the reservation card. Our accounting system is very...um...quirky, so we can't issue a new receipt without the old one. He didn't have it.

"Just write him a new receipt," I had said, searching in vain for Cadbury mini-eggs. "I can't," she said. And before I let her explain, I scoffed. "You don't know how to write a receipt?" David calls it my incredulous voice. It is unkind in its nature.

And now, in the office, I was standing there, listening to her tell me how I'd talked to her like a child. I started to defend myself...but then I stopped. I was wrong. I should just say so.

So I did. I said I was sorry. I said I was wrong. I said I didn't know anything--anything--about accounting.

And that's when it really started to hit me how in-over-my-head I am at my new job. The scheduling part is pretty simple. Scheduling airplane inspections is harder, but I'm getting the hang of it. But now, I'm also managing five employees in the front office. The only people I've ever managed are little people, so it stands to reason that I'd treat them like children sometimes. But I wouldn't want to be treated that way...

I started to pray. I'm praying to be a better boss. Praying that God would bring resources into my life to teach me how. And do you know what happened today? My friend Tina put two books into my hands, both about leadership. I've started the first one called Leading Character by Dan Allender. So far, my favorite part is this:

We are told God's love seeks us even in the angst of longing and hurt, and we are frequently reminded of his mercy and loving protection. As is the case with his power, the fullness of God's love cannot be cataloged and understood; it can only be honored with gratitude and offered to others with reverence. God uses his strength and love for honorable and wise purposes. He is fiercely loving and tender to his people. And we have been made to reflect God's character in all our relationships. 

That's pretty good stuff. Because I know love covers a multitude of sins, and I want to be gracious and kind...but I also have rules to uphold. I have to learn to be tender and tough. That's not going to come naturally to most people, I guess, so maybe I should cut myself some slack.

Later that day, I sat at the picnic table in the hangar with a young Haitian pilot who's studying for his U.S. pilot's license. Haiti no longer issues licenses, so you have to get one in the U.S. first, and then you can get a validation here. (Humorous side note: they've been trying to get back all the licenses they've issued, but the pilots won't surrender them, since they don't have an expiration date.) The only hang-up is that in order to do that, you have to study their materials...in English. He had questions.

"What does it mean, 'in spades'?"

"Uh, it means a lot."

"What about 'contended'?"

"It means that it's his opinion, sort of. Kind of like, dapre mwen, 'according to me,' in Kreyol."

"Why does he say that I'm a 'budding pilot'?"

That one made me laugh. There was miming involved. He laughed, too. The irony was that this was only the introduction, where another author was praising how well the book was written...but clearly, that depends on your perspective.

I guess everyone's "getting schooled" at something. Pray for me to grow as leader, here in the deep end of the pool.

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