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Friday, April 13, 2012

First Real Job, Reflections

     “What greedy employers! How could they treat little Sojourner like that? Why didn’t they hire another person to help her?” Awe, thanks for asking. Well, contrary to what you might be thinking, Peggy Sue and Wade were very nice people. Other than at meals, I didn’t really have much contact with Wade but found his wife a kind lady, though seriously overloaded on a daily basis. I am not at all sure how they happened to be in the Dude Ranch business but, seeing their desperate financial crunch, I think that Jesus might have asked the dear couple this same question:

     “Suppose one of you wants to build a tower. Won’t you first sit down and estimate the cost to see if you have enough money to complete it? For if you lay the foundation and are not able to finish it, everyone who sees it will ridicule you, saying: ‘This person began to build and wasn’t able to finish.’” (Luke 14:28-30)

     Wade and Peggy Sue were, both, working hard but had no where enough staff to meet the fluctuating, seasonal need for employees. Perhaps they were new owners and did not know how many people they would really need or perhaps they knew but could not afford more? I was only a kid so never knew why they only hired me.

     When they jumped at the chance to have another group of guests arrive with not enough room for them unless Lorie and I slept in a pup tent, Jesus might have whispered in their ears:

      “Or suppose a king is about to go to war against another king. Won’t he first sit down and consider whether he is able with ten thousand men to oppose the one coming against him with twenty thousand? If he is not able, he will send a delegation while the other is still a long way off and will ask for terms of peace.” (Luke 14:31-32)

     Or, in this contemporary situation, “If it is the bankers you are worried about, you might want to pay them a little visit. Perhaps, showing them the present list of reservations you hold, along with the ones you just added without staff to support that load, he might agree that you will be able to make the business work and release you to hire more people immediately.”

     Truly, I have not a clue what pressing situation faced this young couple trying to make a go of the Dude Ranch. I only know that they had missed something fairly crucial in their planning and management strategy.

     “But, Sojourner, they treated you like a slave! Can’t you see that?” Looking back on it, my opinion changed. Yes, at the time, I did feel like I was a slave and didn’t understand why things were the way they were. It’s amazing how nearly half a century of time will mellow out one’s understanding to engulf the other side of things, isn’t it? What was happening in their own lives to put them (and me!) in such a difficult situation?

     God is not a slave-driver, though he does expect us to work hard throughout our sojourn on this earth. The Bible does not promote slavery at all, and suggests that all men and women should be free, but the Scriptures were for the current circumstance in that culture so the issue of slavery was addressed with respect to the attitudes of both the slave and the master. In today’s world, the truth of God’s desire remains the same and we can set our own particular employment situation in the same context.

     The Apostle Paul writes of the duties of both the slave and his master in his letter to the Colossians:

      Slaves, obey your earthly masters in everything; and do it, not only when their eye is on you and to curry their favor, but with sincerity of heart and reverence for the Lord.” (Col. 3:22)

     “Masters, provide your slaves with what is right and fair, because you know that you also have a Master in heaven.” (Col. 4:1)

     Since we worked as hard on Sunday as any other day and did not pray before we ate our meals, I had no way of knowing if my employers (masters) were interested in pleasing their Heavenly Master or not.

     As for me: I had mentioned in an earlier blog about transitions  (Tweens/Teens and God and Me), my early teen years were, in no way, focused on God and what God wanted me to do in any given situation. I was growing up and very busy, you know. Somehow, I had lost that close communication with God that I had enjoyed as a child. I did what I knew my parents would want me to do, I obeyed the boss to the best of my ability; and, at times when I thought I would not survive, I am confident I cried out to the Lord to help me. This really had nothing much to do with the relationship with God but spoke of my desperate need for help when it looked as though help would never come. Don’t most humans pretty much do that as a reflex when it looks like all is about lost?

     The wonderful patience of the Mighty, tender, loving and understanding God still blesses me today. He didn’t push me but waited patiently for me to return to our close relationship and not continue in only “crisis mode communication.” Nevertheless, His eye was upon me to see that I was not hurt as I learned!

     I never ever heard from Wade or Peggy Sue by phone or mail. It would prove to be one of the worst employment experiences of my life. In the decades to follow, I would work in many places, under many difficult kinds of circumstances, earning little money (or none.) Nevertheless, this first experience was the worst because of the expectations of youth. I was not unfamiliar with hard work at all, but I had been raised in such a sheltered home. No one ever took me for granted there and never gave me more than my age would permit safely. Still, for many years, I felt guilty over the way I had left. Sadly, once I had learned of my own need to forgive them and ask forgiveness from them over the way I had left, I could no longer find them. In case, you are seeing yourself in this story, Peggy Sue and Wade, please forgive me; I am so sorry!   

     This first experience served to introduce me to the real world of employment; it’s not the same as doing chores at home! The bottom line of the balance sheet is far more important than what may or may not be good for an employee. Because of this experience, I have made an effort to not follow this style of leadership nor focus on the bottom line as the exclusive indicator of just how things are going. I am grateful to have had this opportunity to learn.

               *Names have been changed.

If you missed the abovementioned post, here is the link:

Tweens/Teens and God and Me

****Have a great weekend!

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