“Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You give a tenth of your spices—mint, dill and cumin. But you have neglected the more important matters of the law—justice, mercy and faithfulness. You should have practiced the latter, without neglecting the former. You blind guides! You strain out a gnat but swallow a camel.
Matthew 23:23-24 (New International Version, ©2011)
I find it funny that people in power can become so caught up in their own self-importance that they give little thought to the human being or beings who have to suffer their wrath on a regular basis. For example, the boss who is so intent on asserting his or her authority that they completely overlook the reasons behind what is happening with a particular employee and base their assessment of that individual’s performance on one or two instances of weakness. I, unfortunately, used to be this boss. I supervised a staff of about five people back when I was working at a more “important” position. I picked apart every little infraction and looked for ways in which I felt my employees were “wronging” me. I took their mistakes quite personally and for some reason had it fixed in my mind that whenever they didn’t do things exactly as I would want them to, I needed to be the one to bring them around from their flawed way of thinking. Oh, how young and stupid I was to think that every absence from work was an affront to my authority. Those employees were just trying to make me look bad. Please, I’m just glad I learned something from my experience as a supervisor and that I didn’t grow old and stupid.
Recently, I was put in a situation where I had to defend myself at work. I have been having some issues with my health and my daughter’s health. I’m not dying or anything, but stress sometimes wears me out to the point that I can’t function. I hate it, but there is little I can do about it except to rest when I need to and to avoid petty squabbles with people who have nothing better to do than to create strife in someone else’s life. So much for the latter. To make a long story short, my boss was aware of the reasons why I was struggling, but seemed to make it her life mission to confront the issue as though it were a deeply engrained character flaw and not just the result of a bad situation. God bless her, she thinks she’s doing what she needs to do to run a tight ship. I’ll give her that. Having been under the thumb of upper management when I was a supervisor and made to conform to the ways that seemed right and just in my own sight, I spent a great deal of time reprimanding people for being out with a sick child or having health problems over which I knew they had little control. This is one of the main reasons I don’t like to do that kind of work anymore. After many years of setting good workers up for a fall by documenting their every little misgiving, it occurred to me that one day, I might be in their shoes. As it turns out, I was right.
I chose my current job because I no longer wanted to be the person who was sharpening the axe for an employee’s execution. I got tired of “straining out gnats” but then watching managers who didn’t do their jobs get away with their own substandard performance. No one dared say anything to the manager who had “family problems” or to the supervisor who wasn’t answering their e-mails and never communicated directly with his employees unless he was being critical of their performance. Evidently, this was okay in the eyes of upper management because they also fell short of ideal. It wore on me after years of trying to be perfect and hoping to be “above reproach.” Finally, I just got tired of being fed so many camels.
By the grace of God, my situation has been rectified and I am no longer worried about my boss and any vendetta she may have against me. She will do what she must and I will do my job to the best of my ability. God will take care of the rest. If you are a manager, however; I would hope that you take a few moments to think about how you treat the people you manage. Are you constantly looking for what they are doing wrong? Do you spend most of your time documenting behavior that goes against policy, but generally hasn’t hurt the employee’s performance? Do you believe, as I am starting to believe, that policy is pretty much created by companies to justify something they don’t want to have to do for their employees and that it exists basically to absolve managers of guilt over poor moral judgment?
I may be stepping on lots of toes by saying all of this, but I felt it had to be said. The way our businesses run is so often in direct conflict with the way we should treat one another. Our jobs often force us to make choices between doing what is right and what is expected. This isn’t fair or just. It will take a great deal of effort to fix what is wrong in our workplaces, but it has to start somewhere. Are you willing to be the person who speaks out when something is wrong? Or are you content being the one who makes it that way? It’s your choice, but I believe that God would have us treat one another better than what our policies dictate.
In God, whose word I praise, in the LORD, whose word I praise— in God I trust and am not afraid. What can man do to me?
~Psalm 56:10-11 (New International Version, ©2011)~