Who's Your Boss? - Destiner Press Topics

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The virtual Chinese Republic of Wal-Mart (aka Walmart) is simply one extreme example of this repulsive philosophy espoused by thousands of corporations. It is no different than a McDonald's that tells you it is feeding or cleaning up the world when it is serving junk food, much of it to obese people (especially degrading the diet of the poor and uneducated) and is one of the worst offenders whose throwaway packaging trashed the world in the first place.

And then of course they tip the serving world with gratuities, announcing that they are making major "philanthropic" contributions to the same society that they are in fact taking to the cleaners.

Corporations are quite literally fictitious persons, legal fabrications, unreal bodies created not for the pursuit of life, liberty or happiness (at least not for those of anyone else) but for the pursuit of profit, servitude and selfish greed.

Their god is the bottom line, and they can sneak around the abolition of slavery by chipping away at their employees' need for a living wage or going someplace where virtual slavery still exists. At the same time these corporations tell you in their enormous advertising campaigns what a good deal they are giving you, they are in fact paying their staff an ever-dwindling income in real terms, and putting others completely out of work, moving jobs to countries like China where workers can be exploited like battery hens lined up in soulless factories. And all simply because it enables a few shareholders to make immense gains.

It is no good, reader, saying "God Bless America" and then opening up your wallet to companies like that, If a so-called "evangelist" like a Billy Goat Graham endorses a Sam Walton biography and praises his kind of business philosophy, then wake up and shop elsewhere.

For these reasons this particular author will not buy wares at a Wal-Mart, and avoids goods made in oppressive regimes like China, preferring to pay more for a product made closer to home or at least in a non-dictatorial nation. It takes a little extra time to do this, like reading the labels on products instead of just the price stickers. The sad thing is that the vast majority do not have the fortitude or discrimination to purchase carefully. They take the cheap, lazy and quick solution, playing right into the game plan of the same company that is making their world a poorer place to live.

They think that being more astute will not make a bit of difference, so why bother? Because, reader, on the last day it will matter, very much so, when the real Boss asks each one of us why we did not spend our funds more carefully and with greater discernment.

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Origins and Destinies "But when the vinedressers saw him, they reasoned among themselves, saying, ‘This is the heir. Come, let us kill him, that the inheritance may be ours.’ So they cast him out of the vineyard and killed him. Therefore what will the owner of the vineyard do to them? He will come and destroy those vinedressers and give the vineyard to others. And when they heard this they said, 'Certainly not!'" (Luke 20:14-16, Jesus speaking)

Who's Your Boss?

Not long ago I sat in quietness in a tavern and listened to a plumber friend who had been fired from a company after seventeen years of service, being given the excuse that there was a general slowdown in work. If that was actually the case he would not have been as upset as he clearly was, venting on for an hour or so, which I was pleased to let him do, to let off the steam. What came out was that he had been running as many as six projects at a time (the only plumber in the company achieving that level) while his boss was incapable of completing even one. In fact he was so good that the head of a rival plumbing company had him work on his personal house rather than use one of his own employees.

What was even more vexing was that the plumber's aide, an unqualified assistant straight out of high school and trained by this plumber, was kept on, and had received several raises so that his income almost equaled that of the experienced and licensed plumber, who had received no raise for three years as well as his allotted end-of-year bonus withheld during those years. I listened carefully and found his account confirmed by other employees of the company. In fact they so supported him that he was reinstated after a few weeks of very tense unemployment, having a family to feed, but he had to start from the bottom of the ladder, on ninety days probation without benefits. You can imagine how he felt about his boss after that.

Who's your boss, reader? I pose that question to you to seriously, to ask it of yourself, because I know so many people who feel that they have a boss from hell. At least they think that he or she is the boss. After all, one bears the daily unpleasantness of working under such a person. So I have been persuaded to jot down some notes from my own experience in this area, and how I have tried to deal with it, so that you may know this author a little better, because I believe that I have had way more than the normal lifetime’s share of these individuals. About half of them have turned out to be devout churchmen, particularly in North America, because this continent’s variety of Christianity is far more aggressive and materialistic, more steeped in private and corporate greed than any version I have encountered elsewhere in the world.

On separate occasions I knew two men who had just moved into the same town in Canada, each of whom arrogantly announced that he was going to cause everyone else in his line of work (mine included in one case) to go under, swallow them up if necessary and steal their key staff. They prospered for a short time, and I was snared by circumstance to work for one for a three months, but their employees detested them, and soon it was they who went bankrupt due to the citizens’ general rejection of their attitude, while the original companies revived and thrived. But that, unfortunately, is seldom the outcome.

Theirs was the classic Christian philosophy that is found all too commonly in North America, that the Lord loves you and has a wonderful plan for your life, but in the meantime we intend to put you out of business, because it's for the benefit of the community, and for your own good, and if we don't oust you someone else may beat us to it, so God bless you and have a nice day. This is the gospel according to Wal-Mart (aka Walmart) so cherished in the hearts of those who say "God Bless Our Country" and "In God We Trust," but the name of the god to whom they truly cling is Almighty Dollar Bill, and they certainly don't share this god by paying their employees a decent living income. I have had bosses like that, who at the same time that they were complaining of poverty and paying me half my pay, for months, were successfully charging me out to customers at six times my full wage, much to my disgust when I later found out. Of course, there are non-religious bosses just as bad, and this is about any of them, of any belief or persuasion.

I once worked for a very devious boss in a Canadian “blue chip” company that kept me on a six-week renewable contract for seven years under the promised carrot of a full-time position. Seven years, reader, of not knowing whether I would be laid off next month, not knowing whether to sign a rental lease or risk a car purchase. I looked for other stable work of course, as often as possible, but it was a long recession at the time. Not only that, my searching elsewhere annoyed him; it was made plain that there was always the threat of losing what little I had as a foot in the door, and he knew that I had a wife and an infant son to provide for at the time. He never made good on the permanent position. There were continuous evasions: when the hiring freeze is lifted (but others were hired when it suited), when so-and-so retires (but those positions remained unfilled), when the market improves (it did), when the company name changes (it did), endless excuses. It was an episode that I have often looked at in the light of the seven-year swindling of Jacob by his shifty boss and father-in-law Laban, except that Jacob at least received part of what he worked for through all his time and trouble. (Genesis 29)

During my seven years I was nearly always required to work more than forty hours per week, including weekends when requested, but never allowed to show or be paid for more than that on my time sheet. I did not have the benefits of a full time employee (insurance, statutory holidays, medical coverage) but I did everything a permanent employee might and more: producing and archiving the company’s drawings, ordering materials, inspecting construction and installations, training summer students, writing specifications and standards. I even developed some custom software that was shared in my department. I did this in my own lunchtimes and evenings because my request to develop it for reimbursement by the company was refused. They certainly did not refuse its free use. This was a difficult thing to endure to be sure, especially when the boss or even another employee joked about it. It was all I could do to remain silent when other employees stood for hours doing nothing, looking over my shoulder as I designed, or when I saw them taking off on company time, or leaving work with stolen materials.

I am sure you get the picture reader, and you may have been through similar experiences. It was one of those situations where a last straw will break you, and I finally I drew the line and walked quietly away, taking my software with me, leaving explanatory notes on the desks of my fellow workers that they would have to return the old programs. I neither touched nor affected anything that was not mine. Indeed, I spent my very last evening working late to finish a small design chore for one of the senior managers. My boss of course ranted that I had “wiped” the computers (but I had taken precautions to prove that this was not so) and also reported that I had been “unreliable” to the unemployment insurance office. He knew very little about computers (I had fixed his PC problems and those of several employees many times) and his report fizzled because he had not fired me, and they certainly did fire people who were undependable or poor at their work.

There was not a bad word in a single area of my seven-year record, but his allegations were enough to block any unemployment insurance coverage, since most government departments willingly grasp any excuse to avoid reimbursing what you thought you were paying them all those years to protect. It was six long months before I found similar work for a company with whom I also freely shared my software. I drove my family right across the continent at my own expense to take up the offer. This too was on the promise from a new boss of a full-time position after a period of probation.  He never made good, but this time I was fooled for less than three years.

You have probably at least once in your life worked for someone who has pushed you to the edge with broken promises or, say, rudeness about your work when his own has been far short of the mark, and you have taken it without a word. This can be a very difficult task in the field of design. I've had several bosses, totally incompetent at their own work, who were incensed at my getting a job done, and perversely took great pleasure in labeling my work as ugly and (literally) fit for bulldozing. This is not a question of receiving appraisal but how it is done. I have received plenty of constructive criticism from people who actually took the time to consider a design solution. That is what we designers are trained to give and take. Everyone is entitled to his or her opinion, but not to rank rudeness. What one person may dislike as unsightly, another may love.

My work may not the best in the world, but I have had a small share of awards, and somebody obviously liked my designs enough to build them. They certainly did not have to do that. They could have declined any proposal and gone to another designer at no extra cost because I have made it my guarantee throughout my working life that if I cannot design something  (for a fixed fee, with no matter how many changes and redraws) that another person likes enough to go ahead and build, then there is no charge. So far, that event has not occurred. I have never known any bosses who stood behind their skills like that; their faces have usually been too busy in the trough, counting money, sometimes fees for designs so poor that clients actually did refuse to build them. Some have considered me foolish for my guarantee, but even if I were to die penniless from that mode of operation, I would go with a clear conscience, knowing that I have never failed to give anyone a fair deal.

Now we are getting to a crux of the matter. What works we accomplish or leave behind us are nothing like as important as how we went about the task and how we treated our fellow human beings. Why? Because every building, whether we like it or not, and every work of art, whether we consider it beautiful or ugly, and every written book, uplifting or dirty, and every manufactured product, futile or useful, and every piece of music, exquisite or offensive, will be razed by fire and a new earth will rise from the ashes. (Hebrews 12:27,28; 2 Peter 3:10-13; Revelation 21:1) Whether it is an ancient, massive, simple and elegant Egyptian pyramid, reaching for permanence and immortality, or modern, crushed tin-can pop architecture seemingly discarded beside the road, like Seattle's EMP museum of rock music, a shrine so aptly venerating fleeting fame and burned-out drug abuse in a trash-ridden, throw-away world...all will be incinerated.

Every palace and every hovel will be gone and there will be a new beginning that will not fail or fade. The imperfect will be removed, because all the combined works of man (except those of One) are tainted and flawed and will not survive the coming of The Cleaner. Who will inherit this new earth? The Lord says it will be the meek (Matthew 5:5) and this should not be confused with the mild, weak, soft, spineless or ineffective. Meekness requires a great deal of strength and discipline in the face of adversity. The meek shall inherit, reader; the modest, not the proud or the arrogant. “This is the man to whom I will look,” says the real Boss, “he who is humble and contrite in heart, and who trembles at My Word.” (Isaiah 57:15; 66:2; Psalm 34:18; 51:17) The haughty and the greedy will not be there to enjoy this new world; they will be removed with the blemished works and sent to the eternal pigsty. Bear that in mind when some unpleasant or offensive employer is bringing your soul down, and hold fast to the right way of going about things and conducting yourself.

Contemplate the most extreme example of patience and humility ever displayed on this earth, and you will realize that what you put up with is nothing. Look at the Author and Finisher of true faith, “who for the jubilation that was set before Him endured crucifixion, despising the shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider Him who endured such hostility from sinners against Himself, lest you become weary and discouraged in your souls.” (Hebrews 12:2,3)

The real Boss bore the whole gamut: the rumor mill, mockery, taunting, provocation, being treated as a whipping boy, passed like a slave from churchmen to governor to puppet-king and back, and ending with thorns pressed down on his head, taken out to be nailed naked in an excruciating public display. The vast majority of this was borne without response, and the few amazing words that were spoken were devoid of malice. That is not to say that the creatures that did this to Him will get away with it. Quite the contrary, their punishment will be unimaginable, but all in good time. They thought they were in charge, but they will find themselves greatly mistaken. “What will the real Boss say and do to them when he comes?” asked Jesus in his parable, before stating their pending doom, and his hearers were enraged. (Luke 20; also found in Matthew 21 and Mark 12)

Think of this when facing any unpleasantness or humiliation, and imitate your real Master, reader, if you belong to him. Nothing you bear will ever equate to what the LORD endured. What small shame or embarrassment you may ever have come your way will be inconsequential in the long run, and you will both learn and gain from it. "You who serve, be submissive to your masters with all fear, not only to the good and gentle, but also to the harsh... when you do good and suffer, if you take it patiently, this is commendable before God. For to this you were called, because Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example, that you should follow His steps." (1 Peter 2:18-21)

There are, of course, times when you may be forced to walk away from a job. I have done that when forcibly assigned to projects that are out of bounds for me, such as the design of a ludicrously oversized house or the building of a church or brothel. You will understand if you have read The Truth Which Sets Free that there is no difference between spiritual and physical prostitution in the eyes of the Lord, and consequently I try very hard to find work that is as clean as possible. I realize, reader, that you do not always have such a simple choice, and there are things that you may be required to do for your temporal boss that are tedious, or just plain stupid, and other tasks that are downright unsavory or unethical. Each of us should know where to draw the line. I have received mail from readers who have lost their jobs over such issues, like refusing to print immoral articles for a newspaper that decided to lower its standards, and I can tell you that although they may suffer a temporary setback they shall not lose their reward.

And who knows what can set off a nasty boss? Some triggers are almost unbelievable. One individual in Australia started stamping his feet on the floor, unable to form words in his rage and literally dribbling spittle after I showed him a simple way to solve some roof truss designs that had been vexing us for days in a set of drawings for a senior retirement complex. I never found out if it was because I had resolved the problem, or had done it on my own time the evening before, or whatever, because he was soon shouting about something else to a dejected secretary. Needless to say I did not last long there after finding out what kind of person I was working for, someone very different than he was at the initial interview.

For a few months in Florida County Public Schools I had a boss who threw such tantrums at employees on a daily basis. He usually did this behind closed doors (although others could hear) and would even tell his hapless victim that he would deny what he had said if he was publicly called to account. Once he ranted and cursed at me for almost an hour for my working (unpaid) with my son (who volunteered but I paid) over a weekend to get something critical (to a building's safety) finished in time for a public opening. He ended by screaming at me "not to do it again even if Jesus H. Christ came down off the cross and told you otherwise!" Incredible, is it not? Incidentally, he knew nothing of my beliefs; he was simply a Catholic, brought up strictly by Jesuits, who had that particular cult’s love for Christian blasphemy and cursing. I do not present my convictions to any boss as an opportunity for him to find fault. I never discuss my faith on company time, not even on an employer's property such as a lunchroom. If you know my writings on the antics of churchmen in the workplace, then you will know why that particular sin is such a significant transgression of the Eighth Commandment.

One last point. If you have read the other topics or books available on this web site and checked the references in the Word, then you will know that you do not have to keep any such rein on yourself if someone is insulting or abusing another person, especially if the offender is a churchman who pretends to believe in the Lord. But that is another subject altogether. In this matter, where it affects you alone, stay the course, in the manner of your real Boss. Discipline (disciple) yourself to be exceedingly patient for your reward, and may He grant you the power and grace to do so. Treat your temporary boss with all the respect that he deserves, and more than that, with all that he does not deserve. Perhaps you will find another who is more pleasant, and be able to make that change when the time is right. If not, never forget that the real Master is coming, as sure as your last heartbeat, and perhaps sooner than that.