Thursday, September 29, 2005

My kind of Mennonite

When the president of Eastern Mennonite College named names in an effort to keep Mennonites pure, he included Jim Harnish.

During World War II, Jim, a long time member of Plow Creek Fellowship, was a conscientious objector and served in an alternative service program run by Mennonites.

The program, sanctioned by the U.S. government, was required to accept not just Mennonites but all conscientious objectors.

Mennonite leaders were worried that young Mennonites were being radicalized by being thrown together with pacifists of other persuasions.

Jim was part of an alternative service unit, working as an orderly at a state hospital near Poughkeepsie, NY, when the president of EMC identified a conservative young man who was part of the unit. He wrote the young man and asked who among the Mennonites at the unit were being radicalized.

Based on the information from the young man, the EMC president sent a letter to the unit naming Jim and others who he deemed as not adhering strictly enough to all Mennonite beliefs. How can you call yourself Mennonites? he asked.

The young man who had provided the names felt very bad. He had not expected the people he had named to be denouced in a letter to the whole unit.

Jim and another person in the unit felt sorry for the young man and took him out for a malt.

Now that's my kind of Mennonite.

Taking a rhythm day to get my groove back

Yesterday, Tuesday, I took a rhythm day. Not a sick day but a rhythm day.

After waking Monday with a headache and going through the day on passionless will power, by evening I was thinking, "I just want to run away and hide." It was at that point I realized I needed to take a rhythm day.

Tuesday morning I left home and wandered to the local library, chatted wih the librarians, taking note for future columns.

Then I had a long lunch at Burger King reading the latest Fast Company. After lunch I drove to a park, leaned my van seat back, and took a nice nap. Actaully two nices naps. The first one wasn't long enough.

After reading Freakonomics for awhile I took a swim and then headed home for dinner with friends.

I love people and pastoring and leading EGL but every once in awhile it's too much.

If I were working for a standard USA company I would face a moral dilemna: should I call in sick?

Margaret Morford, president of the HR Edge Inc., a Nashville-based training and management development consulting company, says people are taking sick days because they are simply working harder and longer. Voice mail, e-mail, cell phones and other technology also allow people to be plugged in to work more than ever.

"People are getting burned out," she said. "And I recommend to managers: You need to keep your eye on people, and sometimes you just need to give them a mental health day, or at least offer them the option."

Companies need to abandon the old sick day policies and give people rhythm days.

Jim Loehr and Tony Schwarz make two points in The Power of Full Engagement: Managing Energy, Not Time Is the Key to High Performance and Personal Renewal'':

We need to balance stress and recovery.
Balancing stress and recovery helps us be highly energetic.

When the balance between stress and recovery gets out of rhythm on the stress end we get sick. Much better to take a rhythm day. And now I have my groove back.