© Copyright 2001, By Jan Wallen
Two businessmen each had a small grocery store. The first
businessman only had five workers, and the second businessman
had twenty. Although there was always a great deal of work to
be done, the first businessman's employees worked more happily
and effectively than the second businessman's workers. The
twenty workers constantly fumbled and grumbled as they went
along with their daily tasks. The first businessman was more
successful, and his business more profitable, than the second
businessman. The reason? The first businessman led his workers
using the "Jesus management" style while the second businessman
led his workers using the "carrot and stick" style.
The first businessman, who had a good relationship with his
employees, looked upon himself as a servant too -
"But Jesus called them together and said, 'You know that
the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their
high officials exercise authority over them. Not so with
you. Instead, whoever wants to become great among you
must be your servant. And whoever wants to be first must
be your slave -- just as the Son of Man did not come to
be served, but to serve, and to give His life as a ransom
for many.'" - Matthew 20:25-28
The first businessman was owner and head, and yet, he treated
his workers as if he were their servant. And because he led
by good example, his workers worked out of genuine love for
the tasks given to them.
The second businessman's "carrot or stick" style showed a
measure of effectiveness in the beginning -- Every time he
dangled a monetary benefit (the carrot) for a job well done
and issued a threat to fire them (the stick) if they didn't
work well, his workers worked diligently. But only for a
short time. After a while, the workers realized how their
employer was abusing the authority he held over them. With
the threat of being fired constantly looming above their
heads, they were forced to work, but not out of love for
the work they did.
As Christian employers, we are given a huge responsibility
on how we are to manage our employees. We cannot be called
Christian employers by mistreating and abusing our exercise
of authority over our workers. There is nothing Christ-like
about having a relationship with our workers that is driven
by abuse of power and authority. Nor is it Christ-like to be
driven by profit while ignoring the needs of our employees.
Are they over worked? Are we paying them much less than what
they should receive? Are they safe while they do their work?
It will serve us well to remember that there is more to making
profits and keeping the pockets of stockholders fat. True
success is achieved when our workers give us their full
commitment and loyalty because they believe we have and are
treating them fairly. We are also responsible for giving our
employees equal treatment. Thus, there is no reason for us to
show that we favor one worker over the other just because he
or she is a relative or a member of the same organization.
"And masters, treat your servants considerately. Be fair
with them. Don't forget for a minute that you, too, serve
a master - God in heaven." - Colossians 4:1 (The Message)
As Christian employers, our responsibility to our workers goes
beyond paying fair wages and providing good working conditions.
We also have the responsibility of leading by demonstrating good
examples every day. It is the principle of leading by serving.
To go back to the story of the two businessmen, the first
businessman with the five happy and content employees created
a daily schedule of putting one person in charge of opening
and closing the store, sweeping the floor and cleaning the
toilet. Instead of excluding himself from the schedule because
he owned the business, he listed his name too. When it was his
turn, he did the tasks just as all his other workers did. In
the process, he was able to communicate with his workers that
he was "one of them." That simple act reinforced a positive
working environment for his workers because they felt at ease
knowing he did not resort to using his authority over them.
This is the essence of what the first businessman in our story
did for his workers:
"Be shepherds of God's flock that is under your care,
serving as overseers -- not because you must, but because
you are willing, as God wants you to be; not greedy for
money but eager to serve; not lording it over those
entrusted to you, but being examples to the flock."
- 1 Peter 5:2-3
As Christian employers, it is also our responsibility to care
for our employees - to train them, to be sensitive to their
needs, and to develop their skills so that they may be better
workers and individuals. Not only are we morally responsible
for our workers, we are also mentally and spiritually
responsible for them. True, fair wages and good working
conditions are essential, but we should also provide more.
Allowing workers to initiate and organize Bible studies
during free hours and encouraging them to practice their
religious beliefs in the workplace without letting it
interfere with their work are some ways we can promote
a sense of openness and trust among our workers.
As a Christian employer, examine yourself and your relationship
with your employees. Ask yourself one simple question: Which
businessman am I?
Jan Wallen is the owner of http://www.StraightPaths.com/ a site dedicated to helping Christian business people conduct their businesses based on Christian principles. Her free bi-monthly newsletter, the Straight Paths Ezine, is filled with sensible, practical advice to help you in the work place. Subscriptions are available by visiting her website or you may send a blank e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org
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