I have a confession to make: I love the TV show “Undercover Boss.” The premise of the show is that company bosses—disguised as ordinary employees—learn what their employees think of them and what the employees’ day-to-day lives are like. One reason I enjoy this show so much is seeing the disguises the bosses wear—some that appear to be laughably unconvincing. But what I appreciate most is how, through their experiences, the bosses come to understand both their employees and their companies more deeply, leading them to become far better leaders as a result.
Do you want me to kick you out of here?” yelled the angry operations manager at an engineer. It was late in the night, everyone was tired, and the machines in the distribution center weren’t working. The engineer, after whispering a prayer, calmly explained that the issue couldn’t be solved quickly and his team was doing their best. Thankfully, after a few hours, they fixed the problem. The maintenance manager who had witnessed the operations manager’s rage apologized for the man’s behavior and told the engineer he was impressed by his calm composure.
One morning, I was surprised to see my mail carrier lugging his heavy bag. I asked him why he was delivering mail on Sunday, and he curtly responded with a single word: “Amazon.” The online retailer had started offering Sunday delivery, so it was no longer a day of rest for postal workers.
Humorist Mark Twain once said, “Never put off till tomorrow what may be done day after tomorrow.” The tale of the grasshopper and the ant by the ancient Greek storyteller Aesop is a stark reminder of the detrimental impact of lazy living. Throughout the summer, the ant worked hard, gathering and storing food for the winter. The lazy grasshopper laughed at him, saying it was time to play and sing. When winter gripped the land, however, the grasshopper had no food and begged the ant to let him have some, but there was no excess to share.
When my twin sister and I were 5 years old, we began counting the money we had in our piggybanks. It turned out that one of us had more than the other. To our young minds, this just wasn’t right. So, we decided to balance our accounts by helping ourselves to our mother’s money!
Many odd and antiquated laws can be found around the world. In the UK, it’s an act of treason to place a postage stamp bearing a British monarch upside-down, and in England specifically, it’s illegal to eat mince pies on the 25th of December. In one US state, women must get written permission from their husbands to wear false teeth. In Milan, it’s a legal requirement to smile at all times—except for funerals and hospital visits.
In the early 1500s, Martin Luther said faith in Jesus justifies us. But he also stated that faith should permeate all areas of our lives, including business dealings. Two and a half centuries later, a young man named John Woolman took this to heart as he opened a tailor shop. Due to his commitment to Christian love, he chose not to purchase any cotton or dye supplies that had been produced by slaves. Then he would be able to say, with a clear conscience, that he had lived according to holiness and sincerity in all his dealings (2 Corinthians 1:12).
More than “another day, another dollar,” work for the believer is an opportunity to live out our God-given talents. At the same time, our jobs can be a significant source of stress. As we’re responding to different personalities or economic challenges in the workplace, our responsibility as believers is the same regardless of location or job description: Love and reflect Jesus well.
In the movie Fiddler on the Roof, Tevye talked very honestly with God about His economics: “You made many, many poor people. I realize, of course, that it’s no shame to be poor. But it’s no great honor either! So what would have been so terrible if I had a small fortune? . . . Lord, who made the lion and the lamb, you decreed I should be what I am. Would it spoil some vast, eternal plan if I were a wealthy man?”
Ravi and Prakash received layoff notices from their employer, an insurance company that was being downsized by its new owner. “Once again the little man gets squeezed,” sighed Prakash; “Is this the thanks I get for 15 years of loyal service?”
Maneesh Sethi hired a woman to sit at his computer and watch him as he worked. Armed with a list of his tasks, her job was to slap him if he tried to put off working by checking Facebook or scanning other websites. Later, he employed a tall Swedish man to do the same job—that guy hit a bit harder, according to Maneesh. Oddly, this rather extreme measure worked. Maneesh claims that his “slappers” helped him become 98 percent more productive by preventing procrastination during his workday.
Q: What advice would you give a person who is the only single person in her entire church and is feeling left out and lonely? —Lisa
A: A single person is popularly defined as “one who is above 30 and unmarried.” I would prefer to see a single as “any person who is not in a marital relationship.” This would include…