Husband. Dad to 5. Student Ministry Pastor. Follower of Jesus. Yatta yatta.


photoOn cyber monday I found a deal for snow summit lift tickets that I acted on a few months ago.  At the time, I knew we’d be in Big Bear for 2 days and would be on the slopes for one of them, so I picked Tuesday as our day and bought tickets for all 7 of us plus several grandparents.  All was good until on Monday night, when my oldest son got the flu and was sick.  He was the 4th person in the family to get it, so we knew it’d be gone in 24hrs.  As a result, we decided to swap plans and go on Wednesday instead of Tuesday.

However, therein was the problem.  My tickets were good for Tuesday and not Wednesday.  The fine print of the policy says that they now become like vouchers to apply to another ticket purchase and that on Wednesday, I’d have to pay full price.  But I really had no other option.

So, when I arrived at the ticket window first thing on Wednesday morning, I decided I would ask if they could help me out and bend the policy, but honestly I expected to have to pay the full price. I said, “I know I’m asking for a favor, but I was wondering if I could redeem these tickets today instead of yesterday. I arbitrarily chose Tuesday as our ski day originally when I bought the tickets.  I didn’t miss it because of weather complaints and I’m not trying to redeem them on a weekend.  I just had a sick son and we could not come.  But we’re here today.  Is there anything you can do for me?”  Without asking a bunch of questions, she just said she’d have to get manager approval.  So, when her manager came, I expected to have to explain it all again.  However, when she sat down at the desk, she didn’t dig for details. She just started to do her magic without asking a single guilt trip question.  She verified my order was correct, collected the funds for the additional rentals I needed to do, and let us redeem our tickets.  I was shocked and grateful for how easy that was.

It’s rare that I find people today that bend “policy” toward the intention.  When I chose Tuesday and showed up on Wednesday, I had broken the “rules” but not the intention behind them.   I was so thankful that the employees at this place got that.

I’m not much of a red tape guy or a policy maker.  In fact, most of the time I’d avoid them at all cost if I could, but sometimes in youth ministry, we have to say something like “If you don’t do _______, then you have to do _________”    In families it takes the form of “when you’re 13, then you get to do ______”   In everyday life the policies of people take the form of tradition and become the fulfillment of statements like “that’s just what we do” or in the negative, “I’m sorry, but that’s not what we do.”

But, even if there’s value in developing normal patterns or policies, I hate it when they get in the way of “common sense”.  There may be value in the policy or tradition, but there’s also value in breaking those patterns based on the values behind them. So, in the case of my most recent experience with snow summit this week, I was at odds with their policy.

This whole thing reminded me again that I’m not going to live my life by policies, but instead by values.  When the policy or tradition no longer supports the value that prompted it, then I’m going to drop it.  I was so thankful for the employees at Snow Summit who totally understood this.  They saved me hundreds of dollars in additional fees and reminded me that this is how I want to live.

I will give my loyally to purpose and values, not rules and policies.

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