There is an activity that I have done on multiple occasions for things such as ice breakers at a conference or on games nights, where a sheet of 20 instructions is handed out. The goal is to be the first person to finish the list and as we are being set the task there are relatively simple parameters. You must read all the instructions before beginning.
The leader of the session then distributes sheets and says, “Ready, set, GO!” and people furiously start reading. Now, some of the instructions include calling out things, standing up and down multiple times as well as writing various things on the worksheet were listed. An example is included here: see how fast you can complete it!
If you are clever enough to have read the full instructions before embarking on completing the tasks you will realise that the time taken to read all the details pays off in then end. Why am I telling you this? Because I had a real life encounter with the need to read all the instructions recently.
I was fortunate to be able to be at a Leadership development conference in Sydney this month – the third and final instalment of my INSPIRE journey. I am so grateful for this opportunity and should have been familiar with how to arrive at the venue and retrieve my room key despite being out of office hours.
You see, we are given a code for the gate, which is the same for the key cupboard, and so armed with this information I head to the lock on the door and start typing in the combination of numbers that I had just used to gain access to the pedestrian gate. I turned the knob of the lock and the door didn’t open, so I assumed I had hit a wrong number and did it again with no success. Then I did it a third time, turning the knob in the opposite direction but still no access was granted.
My colleague arrived and suggested there must be something extra to do but we were at a loss as to what that might be … until I noticed a sign on the door. “Oh, I need to push ‘C’ first”, I say as I start the process over and turn the knob. Again, no luck. One more repeat performance of exactly the same steps, ensuring I depressed each button carefully. I re-read the instructions that tell me to press ‘C’ first and so I do it one more time, growing increasingly frustrated that I cannot gain access to the cupboard as needed.
I decide to read the instructions once more, slowly, just in case I am missing some preliminary information, and discover that I finished reading the instructions before I had gleaned ALL the appropriate information. Not only did I need to do ‘C’ first, I also needed to turn the handle to the left, which is counter-intuitive to me when opening handles positioned on the right hand side of the door!
Armed with the FULL instructions I went through the process one last time, with immediate success. I said to my colleague, “It always helps when you read the full instructions.” to which he replied, “There’s a lesson in that for us all!”
Over the years I have wasted so much time and energy when I charge on down one path, believing I have all the information I require to complete a task, only to discover I have not gathered ALL the appropriate detail to achieve the very thing I am trying to achieve. The end result is frustration and anger at the world and then myself when I realise I am to blame, as well as the inconvenience of taking unnecessarily longer to do what I need to do.
I am caused to reflect on the similarity of taking bite sized pieces of instruction from God in His word rather than the time to see the fuller picture. Parts are often taken out of context and misinformation and misunderstanding can be the result.
What is the solution? Taking the time to absorb all the information rather than trying the easier, quicker option in the sort term. It can take time and investigation, but when the full picture is discovered it helps everything to fall into place.
Why not try and do some investigations of your own to make sure you are getting all the instructions available? Seek some wise counsel, join a bible study group, ask questions, reach out. Just be sure to find all the information at hand. It really opens doors!