"My computer's not working! I can't get it to do anything! This is a joke!"
I was stunned at the sudden outburst in my class. No, it wasn't a high school student. It was the plant manager of a local manufacturing facility. I had been given the daunting task of helping this plant's 42 staff members make the shift from DOS to Microsoft Windows and Office applications.
All of the 42 students in my classes were uptight about leaving the familiar and venturing into new territory. All of them were resentful at having to fix something that, in their eyes, wasn't broken. Their plant had been doing fine with the software they had. So why did they have to switch? Simply put, Corporate had demanded it. It was the summer of 1996 and the rest of the world was embracing Windows 95, while this particular plant hadn't yet made it to Windows 3.1.
So, in a 6-week period, I taught them everything I could about Windows and Office. Most of them, though they grumbled over the change, actually enjoyed the classes. They asked questions, tried new things, and found they could tolerate using a mouse. The plant manager, however, was not one of the happy ones.
He sat in the back of the room and never said a word. When I would glance back in his direction, I noticed the look on his face was one of intense concentration and confusion. Each time I paused to take a breath, I heard a familiar "click... click... click" coming from his desktop computer. I didn't say anything because I didn't want to embarrass him in front of the other staff members, but I knew he wasn't following my instructions. He was in his own little world, and likely to remain so.
So when his outburst came, I was stunned simply because he actually spoke up. In an effort to keep everyone from picking on him, I suggested we all take a break so I could troubleshoot his computer. He left the conference room first, in a huff. The others followed suit, but not before the CAD operator walked past me and whispered with a chuckle, "Good luck!"
The images on the screen of his monitor made me laugh right out loud. So that's why his outburst came! In his meanderings through Windows, he had successfully opened one program 32 times! I almost felt sympathy for the processor in his computer, for I knew it was laboring to keep that much data in active memory. The strain had been too much, actually, and the mouse was no longer responding to his repeated clicks.
It took me a while, but I successfully rescued the computer from a frozen state, and returned it to good working condition. When the staff members returned from their break, the plant manager's only comment to me was, "Why didn't you tell me I couldn't do that?"
Oh, but I did tell him that. The problem was, he wasn't listening. He was determined to do his own thing, go his own way, be in his own little world. My words weren't important to him.
In our walk with the Lord, we sometimes are just like that plant manager. We get in our own little world, think our own thoughts, and forget the Words of the Master that are so important. Then, when we get stuck, we cry out, "Where are you, God? Why did you let me get into such a mess?"
Click, click, click.
The "best laid plans of mice and men" 1 do what? Often go haywire. Why? Because we don't ask for help. We don't seek advice. The Bible says, "Plans fail for lack of counsel," 2 and "Call unto me and I will answer you and show you things you don't know." 3
Many months later, that same plant manager requested my help with a Microsoft PowerPoint presentation. He needed 72 slides created for a budget review session at the Corporate Office, and he didn't know enough to create them himself. He only had three days to pull these together before the presentation was due.
I just smiled, remembering back to a certain day during training, when a certain outburst came because someone wasn't listening.
Click, click, click.
1 paraphrase of one line in "To a Mouse" by Robert Burns
2 Proverbs 15:22a NIV
3 author's paraphrase of Jeremiah 33:3 NIV
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