“I wish I were with you right now so I could change my tone. But at this distance I don’t know how else to help you.”
I am working with a start-up that is contemplating going to distributed working from day one. That means that no one would have an office and there wouldn’t be more than one person in any one location. Everything would be done virtually by video calls and phone calls. The economics, flexibility and attractiveness to future employees seem high, but as I advised the Founder, so are the risks. For one, communication is challenged by time zones and work patterns. But maybe greatest of all is the challenge to an established culture that becomes created through the shared reality and experiences; the stories told. Or lack thereof. You can’t just dismiss the idea without further research and learning. There are those who have succeeded at this, but it doesn’t come without great organizational and management maturity and discipline.
The Apostle Paul was struggling with distance management when he wrote his letters to the Galatians. If back then he was having to explain and define his tone so not to be misunderstood as too harsh or heavy-handed, then that hasn’t changed today with faster and less well-thought through communications like text, Slack, emails, etc. The same can be said in our lives as we struggle to stay close to the Lord. A few days out of His Word, or missing quiet time of prayer, or being away from the fellowship and disciplines of church can cause us to drift as well. If we wonder why what we are hearing from God feels faint and more in the tone of “why aren’t you here”, then it could be that we have distanced ourselves too far and it is time to spend more time with Him in His office.
Reference: Galatians 4:20 (New Living Translation