Thursday, September 11, 2008

Who Are You Working For?

Well who? Consider this.

An elected representative believes they are working for the electorate. They enact legislation and develop bills to bring money and government support to their district. On the surface this seems to be good thinking. The representative wants to get reelected and by showing concern and support for the electorate it would seem that that is why the people elected them in the first place. But wait--if each elected representative is doing the same thing, then who is working for the greater good of the country and the world. It could be postulated that this is one of the problems that our government currently has--the elected representatives are thinking and working at too low a level--hence all of the "pork barrel" projects that plague our budget.

A couple weeks ago as our pastor was finishing a sermon series on Proverbs he posed this question to the congregation. He had discussed a number of important verses in Proverbs about work ethic (Prov 10:4, 6:10-11 and 21:21) and ideas about working first and playing later (Prov 24:27). It was the closing idea of the message and he only briefly addressed it--because the reference isn't from Proverbs at all, but rather Colossians. He referenced Colossians 3:23-24:

3:23 Whatever you are doing, work at it with enthusiasm, as to the Lord and not for people, 3:24 because you know that you will receive your inheritance from the Lord as the reward. Serve the Lord Christ. (NET Bible)

This is an important issue for leaders. So I'm going to dig into the concept a bit deeper.

Knowing who are we working for is important because it is in knowing who we are working for that we will be able to determine what decisions and actions we should be taking.

There are a few answers to the question "Who am I working for?" Some of the answers could be: my boss, my country, myself, the stockholders, the electorate. How leaders answer the question is critical in evaluating success and in providing a context for decision making.

As in the case of the elected representative, the belief of who we are working for influences our on-the-job decision making.

So in answer to the question: "Who are we working for?" we draw from Colossians--we are working for the Lord. That, as they say, changes everything. The whole reason we go to work, the decisions we make at work and in leading our team, even the standards we use to evaluate success are cast in a different view when we accept and understand who we are working for in reality.

This may put us at odds with our earthly bosses as we make morally correct and consistent decisions.

But the up side is--we will be consistent and understandable--by our peers, our subordinates and our earthly bosses. Making decisions consistent with God's values, while not often easy, is why God called us to be in the professions he called each of us to be in. We are there to contribute in the manner God has called us. Sometimes that means we make correct decisions which may be unpopular with those who think they are our bosses.

But then--we'll be able to cut out the pork!

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