12
Jun
08

Good little workers

It’s pretty well known that God believes in a good work ethic. For one thing, we know He hand-picked quite a number of people over the milennia to work for Him, and while He expected a lot out of them, He also knew how to bless and protect them when they did what they were supposed to. In the post-crucifixion days, God expects His son’s followers to work to spread the gospel and He rewards them appropriately in the afterlife. You don’t do much but you accepted Jesus at least…well, you have a pleasant eternity ahead of you but no extras. You accept Jesus and you do great work…you get to be part of the inner circle as well as enjoying paradise for eternity.

Also, the New Testament offers us clear advice on how we are supposed to give good, honest work to our employers and not just slack off. I’m sure any number of Christian supervisors and business owners have thought about those passages and wished that more people had a good Christian work ethic.

What I wish though is that they would remember that God also expects a good supervisor/manager/employer ethic.

But they don’t. They’re just as bad (generally speaking) as any supervisor or boss who doesn’t give a rat’s ass about the Bible or God’s will. The expectation is that you will not only do your job well but you will do whatever you are told, you will put your life to the side, and you will live for the company—particularly if you are paid a salary instead of hourly, because somehow a salary is equated with “We own your ass and will call on you whenever we need you.”

I’ve had good bosses, don’t get me wrong. But even then, they answer to people above them who often charge them with working employees harder. By and large, even the most well-meaning boss can only do so much to make the lives of workers easier and companies pretty much don’t give a damn about whether their employees have lives. Again, there are some exceptions, including some big companies, but still, even at those companies, whatever extras they give employees somehow seem like interesting tricks to get them to work more hours without actual financial rewards for doing so.

I’m not against capitalism. It works pretty well overall. But after getting a little more humane for a while there thanks to labor unions and federal laws to protect people from abuse, it seems to be slipping back into a mentality where the company feels it owns the people and can use them or discard them at will without a moment’s thought or any attention to doing right by people.

Let’s take a look at what the Bible says:

Slaves, be obedient to those who are your masters according to the flesh, with fear and trembling, in the sincerity of your heart, as to Christ; not by way of eyeservice, as men-pleasers, but as slaves of Christ, doing the will of God from the heart. With good will render service, as to the Lord, and not to men,  knowing that whatever good thing each one does, this he will receive back from the Lord, whether slave or free. And masters, do the same things to them, and give up threatening, knowing that both their Master and yours is in heaven, and there is no partiality with Him. (Ephesians Chapter 6, verses 5-9)

You notice that there are rules there for the people who give the marching orders as well as those who do most of the work. Not only are those in charge supposed to do the same thing workers do, but they are also supposed to forego an aggressive, punishing attitude. More is actually expected of those in charge. Yet in almost every office-based job I’ve ever held, employees get screwed. (By the way, I hope I don’t need to mention to you in modern times that the term slave above should really be interpreted as worker and the word master as supervisor or boss.)

Here’s an example from my own long list of abused worker woes. I once worked at a Big Five financial auditing/consulting firm back when there were still five of them (Arthur Anderson, KPMG, Pricewaterhouse Coopers, Ernst & Young, and Deloitte & Touche). That was probably my most abusive workplace, as the general gist was that you worked when they needed you. Weekends be damned. Vacation plans be damned. Family be damned. If a client had a deadline, we had to be willing to put everything aside to get the proposals written, edited, designed and printed—no matter how much time was wasted beforehand by the partners and managers who didn’t get their part of the work done on time.

Oh, sorry, got sidetracked. The example…OK. A partner told my supervisor that we needed to stay late and finish up a proposal based on edits he was going to give us and we needed to get the document turned around in a hurry. We worked our asses off that day to make sure we were able to fax and e-mail him all the pages at his home, since that was where he was going to be working while we were all stuck in the office. Forget the fact that we all had company laptops and could have been at our homes and done the work—we had to stay in the office.

So, after a couple hours of after-hours waiting, we tried to reach the partner at home (to no avail) to see how everything was going and perhaps get some preliminary pages so we could work while he finished editing and adding things. We didn’t reach him finally until sometime after 8 p.m., when we found out he had been enjoying dinner with his family, time with his kids, and was—get this—tinkering with his cell phone at the time we finally got ahold of him. He hadn’t looked at a single page. By the time he finally looked at things and we made changes, it was after 10 p.m. We had eaten a nice take-out meal from a good sushi joint on the company’s tab, but considering how pissed Mrs. Blue was that I couldn’t come home (and not for the first time since taking that job, either) and the way she was starting to feel like I had thrown her over to marry my job in her place, that food was dust in my belly and bile in my throat.

That was just one example. The shit finally hit the fan one week when I refused to work on Sunday (I was a deacon for my father in law…come on) after we had been told that our weekends and vacations would be on hold for the next few weeks. I got called to the carpet first thing Monday and my supervisor asked if I was quitting, since I didn’t seem to have the proper team spirit. I looked her in the eye and said “No, I’m not” and I also informed her that my family was not going to become second fiddle to my job. By the end of the day, Human Resources had my walking papers in order. I wasn’t saddened, though I was disappointed that I had been sucked into—and discarded by—a company that expected workers to be the serfs to the almighty kings and barons (aka “partners”) and the lords and knights in their service (aka “managers”).

That’s not the way it’s supposed to be. Respect is supposed to go both ways. I work hard for you and you don’t abuse me; in fact, you should reward my loyalty. Much like in parent-child relationships—yes, you can tell me what to do and yes, you can chastise me at times—you are supposed to see me as a human and treat me with dignity even though you outrank me.

That’s not the landscape that workers face today. If there is anyplace in America (since I can only speak to the climate in the United States) that is less godly than corporate America, I don’t know where it is. A whorehouse in Nevada is more in keeping with godly values than the average corporation as far as I can tell. Where else but most companies can you get annual raises less than the cost of living and see your healthcare coverage go up in price every year while giving you less actual coverage—so that you essentially make less and less each year while being expected to put in more time so that the company’s bottom line can be protected.

Satan likes that. Profit for the evil and petty people and damage to the rank-and-file population by keeping them sick, unhappy, breaking up their marriages, and everything else. So many corporate titans are part of the conservative Christian right and crow about family values and how we need to defend them. If you seriously feel that way, gentlemen (and most of you are men…and overweight arrogant ones at that), start by respecting the family values of your employees and let them have family lives and health coverage.

(If you’re wondering—and you probably aren’t—this post was inspired by a commenter over at this post at Deus Ex Malcontent…an Anonymous person who basically suggested that Generations X and Y were nothing but petulant, self-centered brat workers while the previous generation in the work world is having to hold their hands and wipe their noses. I responded rather nastily to him in that comment section. If you want to see what I said, go there. Even by my potty-mouthed standards, I feel it is too raw to reprint here. The main post itself about the blog author’s visit to the CNN offices, from which he was recently fired for having a blog, is pretty entertaining, too, though long.)

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2 Responses to “Good little workers”


  1. June 13, 2008 at 1:59 am

    Excellent post.

    I have been reading you for a few weeks and I must say you are the proverbial breath of fresh air.

    I cannot tell you how nauseating it is to hear *ahem* bible thumping Evangelicals sashay between the decline of moral values in society and the vital importance of letting Corporate America run amuck in regards to the success of the economy as though they are twin building blocks.

    GTFOHWTBS.

  2. 2 Deacon Blue
    June 13, 2008 at 9:28 am

    Always good to hear from folks who’ve been quietly reading in the background for a while. Hypocrisy in the pulpit, the boardroom and lots of other places is definitely a problem…you hit the nail on the head there indeed, and much more succinctly than I did.


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Deacon Blue is the blogging persona of editor and writer Jeffrey Bouley. The opinions of Jeff himself on this blog, and those expressed as Deacon Blue, in NO WAY should be construed as the opinions of anyone with whom he has worked, currently works, or will work with in the future. They are personal opinions and views, and are sometimes, frankly, expressed in more outrageous terms than I truly feel most days.

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