By Barry Maher
A while back I got a call from a woman named Norma Landry, an administrator in a small religious denomination. Norma’s bishop had asked her to contact me about conducting a Filling the Glass productivity and job satisfaction session for the church’s ministers. Surprisingly, what the bishop wanted wasn’t Filling the Glass for Managers or Filling the Glass for Employees or even the generic Filling the Glass session aimed at “anyone who has a job or anyone who knows anyone with a job.” The session the bishop wanted was Filling the Glass for Salespeople.
“Personally,” Norma said, “I’m about as far from a salesperson as you could imagine. I couldn’t sell ice water in Hell. And neither could most of our ministers. That’s why the bishop wants to book you for our yearly colloquium–to edify them with your sales workshop.” Her tone made it clear that she did not approve of this particular brand of edification.
“I’ve heard it said that Jesus was a master salesman,” I tried, filching from some televangelist I’d stumbled across while channel surfing. I always check out the televangelists. As a professional speaker, I’m impressed by their fervor. As a balding guy, I’m amazed by their hair.
“Salespeople do cover a broad spectrum,” I admitted.
But it turned out that Norma’s problem wasn’t really with salespeople or even balding consultants. Her problem was with her new bishop.
“Suddenly, everything is measured in money,” she confided to me when I arrived on the day before my session. “And I’m the one who’s supposed to do the measuring. I’m constantly dunning the ministers to improve their collections. And then improve upon the improvement. That’s hardly what I took this job to do. The old bishop measured our success in souls.”
She handed me a sheet of paper.
“What’s this?” I asked.
“I’m thinking of inserting it into the bishop’s speech welcoming the ministers tonight.”
“Please inform your parishioners that—while our churches have minimal financial needs that must be met—Jesus, himself, does not need their money. I spoke to him this morning, and he says that one of the best parts about being God is that you don’t have to rely on contributions to do whatever it is you want done. He mentioned the creation of the Universe with virtually no capital expenditure. And he asked me to tell all those who’ve been so nice as to be collecting money for him for so long that it might be more fitting for them to be GIVING money to those they keep saying they’re trying to help, rather than taking money from them. He’d like this to start immediately. Otherwise he’s coming for his money. And it better be all there.”
I looked up smiling, but Norma didn’t smile back. Rather than serving as a release, sharing the joke seemed to make her angrier.
“Norma,” I said, “why don’t you come to my workshop tomorrow.”
Why indeed? Obviously, Norma was a lady who needed to find a way to fill the glass. And soon. While she still had a job. I wish I could say the Filling the Glass strategies turned her life around, but I know they didn’t. Norma filled her glass on her own. All the session did was provide a nudge.
And it took awhile. But eventually, this is how she worked it out.
Among other things, on her own time she created a breakdown of how the money the church raised was being used. Then she made it a matter of church pride that they become more efficient than comparable non-profit groups—so every penny did the most possible good. She reported the results to the ministers to share with their congregations, and to the press, earning the church some impressive PR. Contributions increased, and Norma felt much better about her job. She wasn’t dunning people for money; she was feeding the hungry, tending to the sick.
Her bishop was so impressed he made monitoring distributions a permanent part of Norma’s job, making sure the church became even more efficient and got even more value for every dollar spent. The bishop says, “Nowadays, Norma is so good she makes me a better boss.”
Half full or half empty? Try filling your glass. Ideally until your cup runneth over and starts dripping on the rug. You’ve only got one life. Why live it half-glassed?