“And this is our indoor track where your son will be competing if he comes here next year.”
I was thrilled with the idea of indoor facilities in this region where it rained half the days in a year. But then I stopped to stare at the almost ninety-degree corners at each turn. I pictured our son running into walls or the other competitors. How do they do it?
“We have monitors at each corner to be sure the runners are staying in their lanes. Don’t worry. They all get used to the track eventually.”
My husband didn’t take the call as pastor to the church in that area. Our son didn’t have to run where he would have been forbidden to “cut corners” on a track designed and built by someone who obviously did just that.
I know I’ve been criticized by people whose only goal is to get the job done as fast as possible. “Why are you doing all of that?” “Don’t worry about it! It doesn’t matter. No one will notice.” “You’re spending too much time on it.” Most of the time, unless they really do have a better way, I’ll just smile and continue with what I’m doing. Especially when I’ve done it before and know the outcome is worth it. And if I’m tempted to cut corners, my late father’s admonition rings in my ears: “If you don’t have time to do it right the first time, when will you ever have time to do it over?”
People who cut corners look for a way that is easiest, fastest, and cheapest. Sometimes to cut waste, they aren’t as thorough. They leave out steps to save time and energy. They reduce staff or hire people less skilled so they can lower salaries. Rules and guidelines are ignored. Inspections are hasty and superficial. They skimp on the quality of the materials used. Sometimes they break the law.
We’ve all seen examples of what can happen when corners are cut. Furniture doesn’t hold up. A suit doesn’t fit right. Road surfaces break down. Roofs leak. Buildings collapse.
As leaders we should all guard against this corner cutting. The outcome when we don’t pay attention to quality is obvious. The product or service is lacking. Everyone can see and judge the consequences.
But sometimes we cut corners that aren’t so apparent. We rush to judgment about someone’s abilities, personality, or trustworthiness. We don’t consider all the facts when someone is accused.
The Scriptures warn against this cutting of corners. Judges are told to make a thorough investigation of a crime. Inquire, probe, and investigate until it is proven true (Deuteronomy 13:14). Isn’t that good advice to any leader who must discover if an accusation is true? Are we listening to those who are just assuming what happened and weren’t actual witnesses? How quickly do we conclude without seeing all the evidence, getting all of the facts, hearing from everyone?
Sometimes we make a quick decision on the future of our family or business or organization without carefully considering all its ramifications. Our Lord Jesus reminds us to not be too hasty and to carefully consider the cost of our decisions. He uses the example of a king going to war (Luke 14:31). But it is a warning to every leader who is eager to move in a new direction. What will happen? What are the consequences? Who will be helped or hurt? What other choices are there? It’s important to think through all the possibilities and ramifications of our final decision.
Our Lord Jesus modeled this perfectly when he thought through His mission on this earth. What will happen? What are the ramifications? “I will be tortured and killed.” Who will benefit? “The whole world.” Who will be hurt? “I will, but if I don’t do this, then there is no hope for mankind.” He even asked His Heavenly Father if there were other choices. “If it is possible, may this cup be taken from me” (Matthew 26:39).
He didn’t take the easy way out. He did a thorough job. He died for ALL the sins of EVERYONE. Thank goodness our Lord Jesus didn’t cut corners!