Monday, January 24, 2005

Fear of being late and JFJ

Fear of being late and JFJ
JFJ did insist that being on time was necessary. I remember hearing Moishe Rosen explain that people who were late were late because they wanted to be in control. So, being late in JFJ was not permitted. In fact, you couldn't be just on time; you had to be extra early.

Being on time is not a bad thing, but JFJ took it to an extreme.

No one dared to ever be late. I don't know what the punishment for being late was since I was always early. My guess is the punishment was probably extra postcards or extra sorties or something of a similar nature. I don't want to think about what could have happened if someone was late for Postcards in Executory; the thought of being publicly humiliated is all that comes to my mind...

Now, sometimes, being late can't be controlled. Planes sometimes are late, but that did not seem to be an excuse for tardiness. Cars break down. People have accidents. Sometimes watches stop. Bumper to bumper traffic can appear out of nowhere on a busy highway. JFJ accepted no excuses.

Once, while driving to an Ingathering, because someone who a co-worker and I were required to pick up at an airport's plane came in late, we arrived late to a required Ingathering meeting. I will never forget the absolute fear and horror inside of both of us as we drove towards that Ingathering. We had no control over the plane being late and our excited passenger who was going to that Ingathering had no idea that she was the cause of fear inside both of us.

I don't remember how we were punished, but that was the only time I was ever late in fifteen years I was with Jews for Jesus.


Anonymous said...

You put your finger on a big issue in JFJ and that is the issue of control. Moishe had to be in control, and his surrogates had to be in control. He even told his surrogates [leaders under him but over others] that if someone they were in charge of blew a responsibility they had a responsibility to be mad. How sick!!!

It was such an axiom in JFJ that we never really questioned the idea that the meaning of leadership, the meaning of authority, was control. And anyone who didn't let themselves be controlled had an authority problem. That was the gospel according to Jews for Jesus. I must state again that we never questioned this. It was a pervasive assumption in JFJ--to manage, to lead. was to control. And as you intimated, God help the person who gave some indication that they weren't controlled by the directives of their superior. At that point the control issue became a line drawn in the sand and it was a fight to the death.

Moishe was very sensitive to anything that compromised his sense of control. He also insisted on being treated as right in the areas where he felt the need to be right. If you ever questioned his judgment, especially in a matter where he needed to be right or he was a bit insecure, he would interpret that questioning or contradiction as an undermining of his authority--as a form of playing games with his head. And he would get very angry.

All of this was rooted, IMO, in his submerged insecurity. But it was craziness to live with, wasn't it? I pity him, and those who had to live in such a skewed universe, which rumor has it endures to this day, although under a new Executive Director. How very sad and screwy.

I suppose we accomplished a lot. But contrary to the value system prevailing in JFJ, I don't think God was pleased or glorified by the price we had to pay. Again, how sad for all concerned.

Anonymous said...

I can't tell you how many times I walked into a room (this was during Brickner's time as leader of the organization), and was little late and had him or one of his other leaders say, "you are late. you just stole 1 minute from each of the 10 people here. That is ten minues you need to make up to them. When we're done here you can do __________ as punnishment."

Anonymous said...

I was late many times. Sometimes it was my fault, often it was circumstances I could not control. Many times I was late because I was ministering to someone (wasn't that what we were supposed to do?) and I could not say "hold that thought about suicide or salvation and I will get back to you in a few weeks."

I was always punished by having to pay hefty FINES, sometimes $100 or more for being five minutes late. I was required to be at events and meetings 15 to 30 minutes early, so if I was only 10 minutes early, I was still fined for being "late."

Yes, this was strictly a matter of control. I had no desire to be in control, but JFJ could not be seen losing control. What bothered me the most was not the control, but the lack of compasion and sensitivity to what God was doing.

Anonymous said...

Once, in San Francisco, in the Jews for Jesus Head Quarters, there was an arrangement between the group of people I was training (me being the leader of that group) and David Brickner, the Executive Director.

We were required to have Jews for Jesus "family time" (ie., writing post card to donors in Bricker's office with him) once per week.

One day I needed to go out with this team of people I was training to work on getting supplies, costumes and uniforms. We had already done our post card writing time in Brickner's office that week.

When we got back around 4:30 PM I was called to Brickner's office and "severely reprimanded" for missing "Jews for Jesus family time writing donor post cards" (this was compared to a family sitting down to dinner together). Brickner ignored the fact that we were only required to be in his office for this one per week. He ignored that we had already "done out time" that week. I was told I was irresponsible, a complainer, and rebelious. When I tried to explain that I was in the right I was told, "It's wrong to defend yourself! Moishe (not executive director at the time) thinks you're a 'carnal Christian', maybe he is right. You're more concerned with your own comfort than doing what is required of you."

Anonymous said...

The thing that always bothered me was that you could never have a good enough reason or excuse for being late. If the bus or trolley was delayed, well, you should have left earlier. You should have anticipated that delays might occur. If there was a car wreck on the freeway and traffic came to a complete standstill, well, you should have left earlier. You should have anticipated that there might be a traffic accident.

No excuse was ever good enough. In my opinion, this was de-humanizing and demonstrated a lack of flexibility and understanding on the part of JFJ management.

Anonymous said...

OK, this one I can really empathize with as I do other complaints. When I worked in DOME in 1989, I was once late coming back from a break. Probably 3-5 minutes late (i was outside smoking). Well, Dave, took me aside and quietly and firmly told me not to be late again. I almost laughed, till I saw how serious he was. That was my punishment. I wasn't humiliated.

However, I don't doubt that others were humiliated publicly. It all depends on who the supervisor was.

Also you had to be half dead to get a sick day.