Faith musings from the seat of a forklift.
Employees are the same everywhere. Seems to matter little what company they work for. Matters even less what the occupational setting is. There is an attitude that seems to pervade the occupational landscape. Usually it is in direct conflict with something a manager or supervisor has directed as needing to happen, often in seeming violation of the “unwritten rule” of leadership, which is “never ask an employee to do something you wouldn’t do”. That attitude is “I wouldn’t do that”. It may not always be phrased that way. Sometimes it is phrased as “He should not tell us to it that way” or “He should have done that this way”. Matters little what “that” or “this way” are, the result is the same. We end up with people that seem to think that if they were in charge, they would do things differently.
Jesus would disagree. In Luke’s gospel, Jesus says to the disciples ““Will any one of you who has a servant plowing or keeping sheep say to him when he has come in from the field, ‘Come at once and recline at table’?” He then explains how the opposite is true, that they would likely order the servant to prepare dinner and after they have had their fill may that servant eat. So may it also be with us. It may not seem right, but if put in charge, we would likely do and say the same things that we criticize our supervisors of doing.
Having been a work center supervisor in two different fields, and damage control team leader, I know too well the temptation that comes with power. When elevated to a position of authority, we can easily begin to look down upon those whom we are in charge of and responsible for. When this happens, it creates discontent and disrespect. Yet, if we have people who hold us accountable for our actions, then we can do our jobs more responsibly, especially if we are in the position of a supervisor or manager.
Getting back to our gospel lesson, Jesus then brings home one particular point, one that we can all take to heart. He notes how the master does not thank his servant who does as he is commanded. Jesus then tells them that in like manner that when they have done all that they were commanded to say “We are unworthy servants; we have only done what was our duty”. This should be our attitude as well. Bear in mind that our supervisors were once in the positions we now hold. They do know what we go through and have persevered. We should not feel tempted to criticize them when it may be that we would likely be doing just as they are. Instead, let us humble ourselves, and instead ask God to lead us to that which we must do as the servants/employees we really are. Bear in mind that we will all give an account of our deeds, so too our attitudes. Let us then consider our own attitudes and learn humility and patience. Someday, we may be one in the supervisor’s chair, being criticized for what we are doing, even though we may be right.
We are unworthy servants who do not know or understand all. We need you to help us that we do not criticize our supervisors when we do not understand their actions or believe ourselves better than them. Teach us to be humble and to bear in mind that if our roles were reversed, we too would do as our supervisors do. Guide us that we would be wise and humble, that we may avoid temptation and see your grace, even as we seek to serve you in our daily occupations.
In Jesus name,