19 Июня 2018

ABOVE REPROACH

How does God expect us to treat our employees? 

THE PROBLEM WAS CLEAR, the an-swer obvious. I had just completed a wage study and audit for a ministry, and several staff positions were conspicuously misclas-sified as exempt from overtime pay. The CEO explained. "We can't afford to pay overtime," he said. "Besides, our people believe in this ministry. They don't mind working extra hours and have agreed to work for a set amount. God has called us to carry out our ministry, and I believe this calling supersedes the law. So what's the problem?"
 
Such poor reasoning is ethically bank-rupt and far too prevalent among today's Christian leaders who don't realize the nonnegotiable role and responsibility of human resources management in today's ministry organizations. As the relative truth of a postmodern "me first" world continues to infiltrate all aspects of life, churches and parachurch organizations find themselves thrust un-der the public microscope of doing what is right for their employees. Because most labor regulations apply to ministry as well as business, Christian ministries need to do more than merely manage human resourc-es in accordance with established laws. A Christ-centered organization must go fur-ther and ask the real question: Above and beyond meeting our basic legal require-ments, how does God expect us to treat the employees he has placed in our care? For the answer, we need to look at how our Lord Jesus Christ treated people dur-ing his public ministry and what patterns of his character may be applied to today's ministry leaders. Jesus treated every person with dignity, 
respect, compassion, and integrity no mat-ter what their situation in life, their employ-ment, or their social, political, or religious class.
 
Whether it was a Jewish leader named Nicodemus, a Samaritan woman, or a blind beggar like Bartimaeus, he gave them equal attention and compassion. Why? Because he knew every person was created in the image of God and therefore had both value and worth. How do we account for how he treated people differently? Why did he blast the Pharisees and not the disciples, for in-stance? Jesus treated people differently based on their talents and abilities and how they performed their respective respon-sibilities associated with those abilities. Abilities in this respect means the gifts and talents one brings to a vocation, whether as a CEO, administrator, janitor, or pastor. Jesus differentiated his treatment of others based upon what they were doing with their talents, not who they were as human beings created in God's image.
 
He served and ministered to others similarly on the basis of their intrinsic worth, even as he challenged, corrected, and led those who were equipped and assigned to carry out God-given roles and responsibilities. Thus, the distinction: For Jesus, similar treatment was about servanthood and the inherent value of all people, while different treatment was about stewardship and leading people to employ their gifts and talents as in-tended by God. Se tvanthood invokes a. picture of Jesus washing the disciples' feet. Steward-ship brings to mind his admonishment of the Pharisees for not doing their "job," Treating our employees as Christ treat-ed others means kno wing how and when to offer them the blessing of servanthood, and how and when to use the call and correc-tion of stewardship. And if we, as leaders, are going to model ourselves after Jesus in how we treat our employees, we will need to be mindful of two central truths: Our employees' abilities, talents, and position all create responsibility and, from the Lord's perspective, demand good stewardship. Jesus required that stewards be found faithful in who they are and in what and for whom they are respon-sible. As our Lord said in Luke 12:48, "From everyone who has been given much, much will be demanded; and from the one who has been entrusted with much, much more will be asked." Jesus treated people differently based on their stewardship of the responsi-bilities with which they were entrusted. 
 
Jesus differentiated his treatment of others based upon what they were doing with their talents, not who they were as human beings created in God's image. 
Today, we could call these responsibilities a job description, company policies, and procedures. If people (employees) were faithful, they were rewarded and edified; if they were unfaithful, then they were coun-seled. They were all equally respected and similarly shown integrity and compassion (even the Pharisees), but they were treated differently depending on how they exer-cised their abilities. Being faithful to these principles has five core ramifications for how we, as min-istry leaders, treat our employees:
 
1. Leaders should seek to develop people, not use them. Christ showed com-passion; he cared about people. In thinking Christianly on the job, a company objective is never more important than the lives of the people, who give the organization pro-ductivity and growth. 
 
2. Employees should be measured by attitude on the job as well as productiv-ity. To measure only by productivity is to "use" the employee as a tool rather than seeing him or her as a person. Obviously, productivity is important, but if a person is trying (especially at the beginning of a new work experience), then job performance 
to some degree should be measured by the commitment and passion the person has for the job.
 
3. Good stewardship of talents and abilities creates responsibilities, with greater potential for rewards and admonishments. In a work environment, some will be good stewards of the responsibili-ties given them and others will not. We live in a fallen world, and not everyone will work to their potential. Some will not carry out their job description. Those who do should be rewarded. Thus, management has a responsibility to treat employees fair-ly, to not show unjust favoritism or to exert undo influence in order to achieve a result When stewardship of responsibilities is lacking, justice and loving discipline must Secretaries are often viewed as more expendable and easier to replace than CEOS; however, Christianity does not treat individu-als as commodities. then come into play.
 
4. Abilities and talents may vary, but worth in an organization is never solely measured by the amount or type of abil-ity one has. In other words, the adminis-trative assistant or janitor has, in one sense, just as much value to the ministry as the CEO, and should be made to feel that way. Secretaries are often viewed as more ex-pendable and easier to replace than CEOS; however, Christianity does not treat indi-viduals as commodities. From the Lord's perspective, the widow's mite was just as important to the kingdom and the cause of Christ as was the religious leader's large fi-nancial investment.
 
5. All levels of management in all types of ministry must be men and women of character. It is impossible to treat people with dignity, respect, and integrity unless you have those characteristics in your own life. In order to have employees move up through the ranks into leadership posi-tions, they must see these characteristics modeled by their leaders. The words and actions of today's ministry leaders must al-ways mesh. In Philippians 2:15, Paul commands us to be "blameless and pure" beyond ques-tion. As ministry leaders, the ultimate mea-sure of how we treat our employees rests with the courage to ask whether we will take seriously our calling to be above re-proach in all we think, say, and do. Will we go above and beyond the work of compliance, policies, and procedures to transform our ministry culture, relying on the example of Jesus to serve and steward every employee? For the sake of our Lord and the people he has entrusted to us to fulfill his kingdom work, the answer should be obvious and clear. • 
 
RON SMEDLEY is President of Synergistic Re-source Associates and teaches organizational leadership at Biola University. 
 

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