MUSIC, LEADERSHIP, CULTURE… and humor (sometimes)

Posts tagged “Leadership

Paying Dues vs. Paid Dues

I talked about this with a friend a little while ago regarding the phrase “paying my dues.”  I think this is a tricky thing to say because it’s loaded with many different angles but I do believe that there’s a difference between saying “I am paying my dues” and “I have paid my dues.”

On one hand, i think “i am paying my dues” is a great phrase to center on because it usually means:

  • I’m working hard at something.
  • I believe that “No pain, no gain” is not just a mantra for masochists but rather a slogan for success– whatever one’s definition of success may be.
  • I recognize that the current labor and struggle is momentary (hopefully) and necessary.
  • I have a goal in mind and the hard work is simply a means toward an end

I like this tweet I saw the other day from someone who said something to the extent of: “Not every seed in the garden will grow but I keep planting anyway.” That’s good stuff.

You can disagree if you want but I believe that there’s a completely different thing at play here when I say “I have paid my dues” because it usually implies that:

  • I have a sense of entitlement to whatever it is I’m after.  I deserve THIS.
  • I have arrived and should not have to work for anything… or at least not as hard anymore.
  • I have lost sight of the age-old wisdom that guided me all these years: “it’s not about the destination– it’s about the journey.”
  • This bitterness I feel is warranted because the world should pay me back for all the good I did for her.
  • I have a hard time being happy for those around me who have seemingly worked less than I have and yet somehow achieved more.  (This is called jealousy, right?  It is also called “please get over yourself.”  We see this a lot during contract negotiations for major sports stars)

I suppose my point is that we (should) never stop working, never stop trying, never stop learning.  The saddest picture of retirement for me is that of a man in his 70’s (having paid his dues) with all of his trophies, degrees, and plaques on the wall while he sits glued to the TV, every single moment of every single day until the day he breathes his last.

The truth is that every achievement, every dollar, and every acquisition is actually a gift.

No matter how hard some of us work, the money may never equal that of some of our more well-to-do friends.

No matter how many hours you put into something, there will always be someone or something better at what you do.

No matter how many “dues” we have paid… to each his own.

We all walk our own path and we set our own markers for success.  What matters is that we are paying our dues toward something we believe in . . . and in the end, whether the pay-off is fair, deficient, abundant or non-existent– at least, we have given it a fair go.  And we continue and we keep on.

Thoughts?  Do you see the distinction between PAYING and PAID dues?


INVICTUS – you convict us…

i just saw INVICTUS and thought it was a good movie. here’s  a few of my quick takeaways from the film (no real spoilers here so i think you’re safe if you didn’t see it yet!):


don’t forget about LOVE

a good friend of mine tells a story of a time when he was on staff at a mega church on the west coast.  They were having a strategic planning meeting and the pastor in charge posed the question, “what are the essential qualities of a leader?” Many things were said and were being written on the board.  Good things I’m sure, like strategic, bold, charismatic, wise, and above-reproach

my friend was dozing off when the pastor called on him and asked “JOHNDOE, What about you?  What do you think?”  Flustered yet sincere, my friend answered with “umm… loving?” to which the rest of the staff began to chuckle.  His answer of “loving” was reluctantly written on the board but it might as well have been written off completely.  Not quite the strategic answer the staff was looking for.


Book Rec – Monkey and the Fish

Monkey and the Fish

Dave is, in my humble opinion, one of the leading, up and coming voices in America.  Of course he hasn’t been “up and coming” to our Newsong community since he founded the church in 1994 but it’s about time the world hears and reads what God has been teaching him, especially in the last 5 years.  We spent the first year of Newsong Bangkok together in 2005  and experienced a lot of what Dave mentions in the book firsthand.  Amazing, heaven-on-earth moments in Thailand.  

I’m so proud of Dave and the platform he is starting to receive and God is doing some amazing things in and through him– he will be speaking at the Willow Creek Leadership Summit this August and I’m sure he has been or will be at a conference near you!  

In the mean time, pick up a copy of The Monkey and the Fish and get ready to have your mind blown.