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Thinking about Language: Are People Assets or Treasures?

Posted: March 1, 2012 by Rob Voyle

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.

One time 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.

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 strip mining them. It is the beginning of legitimizing treating people inhumanely.

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?

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.

With blessings on your life and work.
Rob Voyle

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