On Monday I talked about last weekend's bridge project from the context of communications within the workplace. But that illustration is so rich I just can't leave it alone. Working on any project with multiple people and personalities will almost always lead to a self-lesson on work ethic. Last weekend was no different.
We had to get up at o-dark-early to get ready for the project. By "we" I mean my dad and I. The plan was to meet with the rest of the Scouts at 7:30 before carpooling to the park, and I wanted time to get a shower and decent breakfast of bacon and eggs. Everything worked out fine and we had plenty of time to finish our meal, pack up our tools, and prep our lunch for later that day.
The project started a little late for us, though. It took somewhat longer than expected to get to the park, so we started working about 10 minutes later than everyone else, which could have been part of the problem in project confusion. But once things got underway, they started moving right along.
Personally, I like to be in charge of projects. I'm a bit of a perfectionist, and if anyone is going to judge something I've worked on, I know I'll be the harshest. It's always easiest for me to critique my own work, but I thought it would be wise to bury my pride and follow someone else's lead for the day. So rather than offer design suggestions or argue over what goes where, I put my head down and just provided the labor for the afternoon.
There were a few other people who did the same, but given that we were on the shore of a big river and they were mostly teenagers, their desire to put effort into backbreaking work was remarkably short-lived. By lunch time, our 20-man work crew was pared down to about 6 people.
We took a break, went to refresh our guts and restore our energy, and came back to attack the project a little before 1 pm. We'd managed to round up a few stragglers and got back to work. It took a couple more hours to finish, but by almost 2, we were putting the finishing touches on the bridge.
The unfortunate thing about this is that by almost 2 there were also 45 people standing around watching. And no, that is not an exaggeration.
I left before the bridge was technically done, which is why you see people still working in the photo. I have significant problems throwing my heart into the work when so many people are milling around being unproductive. It's discouraging and will tempt even the strongest work ethic to slack off and stand around as well.
When I volunteer and do work like this, I'm trying to give back. I'm dedicating my time to the service of an organization and trying to follow a Biblical model of service. The issue I have is that not everyone shares this view. When they're working on a bridge, they're working for the Scouts. When I'm working on a bridge, I'm working for Christ on behalf of the Scouts. I do my best work and give everything I have to the project.
Which makes it even harder to hear, "it's not perfect, but it was just a Scout project anyway," as I walk back to the car. When you're working for Christ you always give your best, no matter who the direct beneficiary is. As far as I'm concerned, that was a perfect bridge, and I'm proud I had the opportunity to contribute to its construction.