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Watch 2022 online sermons » Craig Smith » Craig Smith - On-the-Job Relationships

Craig Smith - On-the-Job Relationships


Craig Smith - On-the-Job Relationships
TOPICS: Am I Right?!, Relationship

Well, hey, welcome to Mission Hills Church Online. So glad to have you with us. I want you to know, no matter where you are in the world and what circumstances you’re facing, you have a church home with us, and we’re so glad that you’re with us today. We are actually wrapping up our relationship series today. For the last few weeks, we’ve been unpacking God’s surprising secret to every relationship ever. And if you’re just joining us, and you’re not sure what that is, I’ll go ahead and catch you up real quick. It is this. It’s to submit to one another out of reverence for Christ. That is the surprising secret to every relationship ever. It’s to submit to one another, to serve each other, to put each other’s needs above our own, and ultimately to substitute God’s mission and agenda for mine in the relationship. That’s the secret.

And for the last few weeks, we’ve been kind of leaning into, what does that look like in our family relationships? Today, we’re gonna take a look at what that sort of looks like in our work relationships, specifically in the relationship between employees and employers. And let me…just to let you know, I’ve been on both sides of that table. I’ve spent most of my life as an employee. My first job, I was a market researcher, which is a really fancy title for a guy who stood in a mall with a clipboard and tried to get people’s opinions on fabric softener and peanut butter kind of stuff, right? And I struggled with my boss in that job because I felt like she stayed in her office all day. I didn’t know what she was doing in there. She would only come out to tell us we had not gotten enough surveys done. And I was like, “Well, how about you get out of your office, grab a clipboard, and get out here with us.” Right? And then I worked for RadioShack, and I struggled with my boss there because I felt like he spent a lot of time in the office on his computer, but then he would come out and tell us we weren’t selling enough stuff, right? So, I was like, “Well, I don’t know what you’re doing in there. Why don’t you get out of here and do what you’re telling us we’ve got to do or something like that.” All right? So, I struggled with my boss there.

So I was really excited when I graduated college and I went into vocational ministry, meaning that I was gonna get paid to follow Jesus and help other people do the same thing. And because I thought, you know, “When I’m in the church, my bosses are gonna be awesome. I’m gonna have nothing but respect and admiration. I’ll be able to look up to them.” And it turns out that pastors are people too, and sometimes, like all people, they’re difficult. I had a pastor that I had really substantial disagreements on their theology, and we struggled with our theology back and forth. I had a pastor that I really disagreed with the way he spent money and the decisions he made around financial stuff in the church. I had a pastor that I just felt like almost every one of his leadership decisions was almost the opposite of what I would have done. And so I struggled with all of my bosses, both inside and outside the church.

And so here’s what I know as an employee. For all of the employees out there, and you can say a hearty amen right now. I know that as an employee, being an employee is difficult, and relating to employers can be challenging, right? Am I right? I am. I know I am, right? Then I became the boss, right? I went to the other side of the table. I became a lead pastor. So, I wasn’t an employee anymore. I was an employer. And here’s what I found out, that it turns out that all the other employees in the church were not like me when I was an employee. They weren’t perfect, right? I was perfect, but I was having to suddenly deal with employees who honestly weren’t. And I had to deal with, you know, gossiping. And I had to deal with, like, backbiting. And I had to deal with office politics. And I had to deal with people who criticized every decision I made, that nothing I did was good enough. I had to deal with people who didn’t seem to do much work. I had to deal with people who didn’t come into work, even though they were on the clock.

And so, here’s what I realized, as an employer. As an employer, I realized that being an employer is difficult, and relating to employees can be challenging. So that’s true on either side of the table. And I know that many of you out there understand exactly what I’m talking about. Some of you are employees and you know how challenging it can be to relate to an employer. Some of you are employers and you know how challenging it can be to lead your employees. And some of you are right in the middle. Honestly, some of you are middle managers. And honestly, I have tremendous respect for you because you have the hardest job out there because you have to lead employees, but you also have to answer to another boss. And so, you’re kind of caught in between. And I know that’s tough.

And so, what we’re gonna find today is that God has two ingredients that are kind of the secret sauce to our work relationships. And it’s true, whether you’re an employee or an employer or a middle manager caught in between. So why don’t you go and grab a Bible, start making your way to the Book of Ephesians 6?. Now, here’s what you need to know about Ephesians if you’re kind of new to the Bible. Ephesians was written by a man named Paul. He was a follower of Jesus, and he’s writing to a church, a group of followers of Jesus in a city called Ephesus. And they’re facing some difficult circumstances, not like we’re facing. They weren’t facing a pandemic. They were facing persecution for their faith. But here’s what we know about difficult circumstances. Difficult circumstances put additional strain on our relationships. Difficult circumstances always put additional strain on our relationships. I don’t think that difficult circumstances create weak spots in our relationships, but they absolutely exploit them. And they reveal where those are.

And so, what Paul’s doing here is he’s writing to a group of followers of Jesus, and he’s basically saying, “Here’s how you address those weak spots in your relationship.” And as I said, we’ve already kind of leaned into what those look like in a family context, but now he’s gonna lean into what it looks like to find and address those weaknesses in our work relationships, employees and employers. And so, he says this. He says to employees, chapter 6, verse 5 says, “Slaves, obey your earthly masters.” And we’re just gonna stop there for a second. Because my guess is that for some of us, those words set off all kinds of alarm bells, right? Slaves and masters, like, “What’s going on here? I thought we were talking about employees and employers, and you’re talking about slaves and masters?”

Well, here’s what we need to understand. See, those words are kind of hot-topic words, but they have to do with our history as a country. And so, here’s a couple things you need to keep in mind. The first one is this. The biblical concept of “slavery” and I’m putting quotes around it because I’m not even sure that’s the best translation given our context. But the biblical concept of “slavery” was wildly different than New World slavery. New World slavery is what was practiced in this country in the United States of America from the 17th through the 19th Centuries. And let me just be really clear. New World slavery was horrific. It was shameful, and it was sinful, okay? Not only was it horrific and shameful and sinful back then, but honestly, the legacy that it’s left us, the legacy that we’re still living with today, the legacy of racism and prejudice, racism and prejudice are also horrific, shameful, and sinful. They have no place in the life of a follower of Jesus, but I think they’re ultimately rooted in New World slavery, at least in this country.

But what we need to understand is that when the Bible talks about masters and slaves, what it’s talking about is something that’s wildly different than New World slavery, okay? In fact, I would say this, that the closest modern equivalent, okay, the closest equivalent in the modern world is actually employees and employers. That’s the closest equivalent. It’s not perfect, but it’s the closest we’re gonna come. And it’s actually pretty close. And here’s why I say that. See, in the ancient world, there were no corporations. There were no companies. Nobody worked for Lockheed Martin or Walmart or whatever. In the ancient world, people worked for families, okay? And there were basically two categories of people. Either you worked for your own family or you worked for someone else’s family. Now, if you worked for someone else’s family, you fell into one of two buckets, okay? One bucket was people who worked for somebody else’s family with what we’d call short-term contracts, usually just one day at a time. They were contract laborers. And what would happen is they’d go work for a family, they’d serve a family, and at the end of the day, they’d be paid cash money for the work that they did for that family that day, okay? Those were day laborers, short-term contract employees.

The other category, the other people who fell into this kind of category of working for other families but into a slightly different bucket were people who had long-term connections to that family. They served that family for years, sometimes for their entire lives, in return for which, the Bible specified, that the people they were serving had to give them food and clothing and shelter and time off and legal rights and proper treatment. The Bible specifies all of that stuff, okay? So, you had this group of people who worked for a family for a long time in return for what they needed to not only to survive but to thrive. Now, what do you think the Bible calls those people who served another family, not their own, another family, over a long haul in return for what they needed to thrive? The answer is the Bible calls them slaves or servants, as some people think would be a better translation because it gets us away from the lens that we tend to read it through, which is the New World slavery model, okay? So sometimes it’s better to think about them as servants. But that’s what the Bible calls these people who had these long-term arrangements in return for what they needed to not just survive, but to thrive.

Now, in the modern world, what’s the closest equivalent? In the modern world, what do we call someone who works for another person or another group of people in return for the things that they need to survive and to thrive? And the answer is we call them employees. And we call the people they work for their employers. And that’s why I say this is probably the closest equivalent. So, let’s read this again using those words through that lens. It says this, it says, “[Employees], obey your earthly [employers] with respect and fear, and with sincerity of heart, just as you would obey Christ.” Now, that sounds like three things they’re supposed to have, but it’s actually only two things. Two things, two key ingredients, two things that make up the secret sauce in the employee to employer relationship, okay?

And here’s why I say it’s just two things and not three. In the original Greek, because this wasn’t written in English, it was written to the people in Ephesus who spoke Greek in the 1st century. And so, in the original Greek, what we have here are really two catchphrases, okay? The first catchphrase in original Greek literally says something like, “With fear and trembling. Serve them with fear and trembling.” And that was a catch catchphrase that meant respect, okay? So fear and trembling means respect. The second phrase, the NIV says, “With sincerity of heart,” but in literal language, it would actually say, “With singleness of heart.” And that’s a catchphrase that meant loyalty, okay? So you’ve got two catchphrases that basically mean two different things. He says, “Obey them with respect and with loyalty.” Okay? So that’s really what it says. It says, “Employees, obey your earthly employers with respect and loyalty, just as you would obey Christ.” Okay, that’s the two key things, “With respect and loyalty, just as you would obey Christ.”

And I know some of you out there going, “Problem already. Pastor, if you just knew what my employer was like, you would not tell me that I’m supposed to have respect for that guy. My boss is an idiot. My boss is a jerk. My boss is about the worst human being I’ve ever encountered. There’s no way that I am gonna be able to treat them with respect because I ain’t got any respect for that person.” Listen, I get that. I understand what it’s like to be in a situation where you don’t naturally feel respect for the person that you’re working for, okay? Let me tell you two things because I think these are really important. The first one is this, it’s that respect and loyalty are actions, they’re not emotions. As is being described here, we’re talking about actions, not emotions. Respect and loyalty are actions, the things that we are able to give to our employers, or to show to them, not things that we feel for them, okay? So these are actions. We can show someone respect, even if we don’t necessarily feel it, okay?

The second thing you need to understand is that what Paul is saying here is motivated by the respect that we have for Jesus, not our employers. If we go back to that surprising secret to every relationship ever, he says, “Submit to one another out of reverence or respect for Christ.” That’s what motivates everything that he’s talking about throughout this section of the Book of Ephesians, and it’s what motivates our treating our employers with respect and loyalty. It’s a respect that we have for Jesus. It’s great if we feel that for our bosses. That’s awesome, but if you don’t, you don’t have to, to still pay attention to what he says here, okay? Because it’s motivated by the respect we have for Jesus, not necessarily the respect we have for our employers.

Okay. So, what does it look like to treat our employers with respect and loyalty? Well, he says this. He says, “Obey them. Obey them.” Now, this is complicated, okay? This is really, really super tricky. Fortunately, I’ve been to Bible school. Fortunately, I have wrestled with the original languages here. Fortunately, I have a big shelf of books with really, really, you know, large commentaries with tiny print that allow you to delve into the historical context and to get all this background. So I’m able to tell you, from the benefit of all of that, that when Paul says, “Obey them,” what he means is, “Do what they say,” okay? That’s what he means. So you’re welcome. You know, I appreciate being able to use all my education to help you understand that. Basically, he says, “Do what they say.” That’s all he’s saying. “Do what they say. Do what they’re paying you to do.”

And you might go, “Well, like, isn’t that what employees do?” Apparently not, actually, not as much as you might like to think. Getting ready for this message, I read a bunch of studies. And one of the things that I found was that across all industries and across all age groups, it varies a little bit by age group, but if you kind of factor it all together, what you find out is that the average worker in the United States, the average worker, wastes between 1.5 and 2.5 hours a day while they’re on the clock, 1.5 to 2.5 hours a day while they’re on the clock. And we’re not talking lunch breaks and things like that. We’re talking about being on Facebook. We’re talking about being on Instagram. We’re talking about being on Amazon and buying stuff that you can play with that weekend, okay? We’re talking about googling your own name, okay? We’re talking about crazy stuff like that, that they’re doing while they’re on the clock being paid to do work, but they’re not doing that work. They’re doing these other things, okay?

Now, listen, Paul says that one of the main ways that we honor God by giving our employers respect and loyalty is actually by obeying. It is by doing the things that we’re being paid to do. So, listen, this is really practical, but this is really important. The number one way that employees can show respect and loyalty is just by doing the work that we’re paid to do, okay? As an added bonus, you can also sleep at night knowing that you’re not a thief because honestly, doing personal stuff on a work time that you’re being paid for, that’s a kind of theft. But that’s not even what he goes at here, okay? What he goes at is the fact that we can actually be serving Jesus, be honoring Jesus and God by giving our employers respect and loyalty by simply doing the job that we’re called to do, okay? It’s really practical, but it’s a really important thing.

And he says this. He says, “Obey them not only to win their favor,” in other words, not only to get an advancement, “When their eye is on you,” when they’re paying attention to you, “But as slaves or servants of Christ doing the will of God from your heart.” In other words, don’t just do the work they tell you to do in order to get ahead. Do it because it’s the right thing to do, and do it when they’re not looking at you, right? And that’s where it gets tricky, right? It’s one thing to give respect and loyalty to our employer when we’re face-to-face with them, it’s another thing to do that when they’re kind of out of the scene, right, out of the picture. That’s when it’s really tempting to start talking bad about them, talking smack about them, right? Hey, I’m gonna be honest. I used to do this. I wasn’t one for gossip really, but here’s what I did do. I questioned most of their decisions to my fellow employees, or to my family, right? You know, I hear a decision, and I’m an opinionated guy, and so I would immediately start going, “That’s kind of stupid.” And I tell other people that I thought it was stupid. And I finally became convicted. The Holy Spirit convicted me that I needed to pay attention to this verse. And I wasn’t obeying it in my life because I wasn’t giving them respect and loyalty when I was questioning every one of their decisions and calling even their competence into question to other people.

And so here’s what I figured I needed to do because I didn’t necessarily agree with the decisions. I couldn’t just change that. But what I did figure I could do is I could ask some questions. And so I started making it a practice in my life that before I questioned a decision that any of my bosses made, I would go talk to them and ask some questions. Instead of questioning their decisions, I would ask them some questions. Basically, go, “Hey, can you help me understand why this decision?” And here’s what I found out. I’m humbled to admit this to you. Here’s what I found out time and time and time again, was that there was complexity to the situation. There was a complexity that drove that particular decision that I didn’t know anything about. Everything seemed black and white. Everything seemed, you know, pretty cut and dried to me, but it’s because I didn’t know what my bosses knew.

And the reality is this. I’ve come to understand this, that every position in an organization, every position has a perspective. And that perspective allows us to see certain things that people who aren’t in that position don’t see, okay? And that’s certainly true for our employers. It’s certainly true for our bosses. Because of the seat that they’re in, they see things that we don’t see as their employees, and they’re having to consider those things as they’re making those decisions. We don’t know about those things, and so we’re questioning their decision. We’re calling them stupid idiots, but the reality is, it’s not that they’re incompetent. It’s that they’re dealing with a complexity we didn’t know about. And I found that time and time again as I began to ask, “Hey, why this decision?” And I was super embarrassed looking back that all the ways that I had dishonored my employers by talking behind their back to other employees, even just questioning their decision.

So, here’s a practical thing that might be useful to you as you think about showing your employer respect and loyalty. It’s this. Assume complexity before incompetence. Assume complexity before incompetence. Assume that that decision probably was made in light of some things that you don’t know about. And maybe you should find out about those things before you decide, and certainly before you tell anybody else what you’ve decided that that decision was stupid and idiotic, okay? A really practical thing that employees can do. Just assume complexity before incompetence.

And he says this. He says, “Serve wholeheartedly,” okay? “Serve wholeheartedly as if you were serving the Lord, not people.” And I love that. I love it because what Paul’s doing there is, he’s giving us an incredibly powerful principle. And here’s the principle, it is that our work is an extension of our worship. Our work is an extension of our worship. That when we work well, we’re actually extending our worship out into the world. Now, I think this is good news and bad news, depending on who you are. For some of you, this is really good news because you’re not really good at what we traditionally call worship. Maybe you’re not even comfortable with it. You know, you come to church, maybe you come in a little bit late, and you miss a song or two. And it’s because, honestly, you’re not real comfortable singing. And I get it. You know what? The church is like the only place in the world where we still sing out loud in public together, right? Where else do you do that? And so, it’s super weird and It’s super unusual in some ways. So maybe you’re a little hesitant to get here for all the songs.

But maybe you’re here, maybe you’re here a little bit late, or maybe you’re right on time but, you know, you’re still a little uncomfortable. And then, of course, everybody stands up to sing. And so you’re going, “I have to stand up, and I don’t know what to do. And I’m supposed to sing,” but you know, you sing just a little under your breath because you’re not real comfortable with your singing, or maybe you’re not comfortable with your breath and there’s people real close, right, and you’re worried about that, you know? But you’re trying to do your best, right? You’re doing your best. And then, you know, then the worst, it was like, “You’ve got to sing louder.” And you’re like, “I don’t think you wanted me to do that.” Right? But people around you are. So, you’ve got to do that. And they’re like, you know, “Get your hands up.” And the people around you are doing that. And you’re like, “Man, they’re better at this worship thing.” And maybe, honestly, you struggle with it. And maybe you even feel a little bit guilty. Maybe you feel like maybe you’re not as good a follower of Jesus because you’re not as good at this whole worship thing.

But here’s good news, right? If our work is an extension of our worship, you might be a much better worshiper than you think because you’re a really good worker. Listen, you get up in the morning and you go, “I’m gonna go teach these kids like they were Jesus’ kids.” That’s worship, right? You get up and you go, “Hey, I’m gonna crunch numbers like they were God’s numbers like from the Book of Numbers.” There’s actually a Book of Numbers. “And I wanna crunch numbers like it’s from the Book of Numbers,” right? Hey, that’s worship, okay? You’re gonna study hard for a test. That’s worship. You’re gonna fold clothes at The Gap, but you’re gonna do them well as though Jesus were gonna come browsing looking for jeans. That’s worship. This is great news. Listen, if you work well to serve Jesus, to honor him, you’re not just going to work. You’re going to worship every day that you leave the house. That’s awesome, right? That’s good news.

Now, here’s the bad news. The bad news is some of you out there, you’re great singers in church and you’re big slackers at work, okay? Like when church worship happens, you’re like the best at it. Like you’re already out loud. The worship leader didn’t need to tell you anything, right? And you’ve already got the hands up and the people around you are kind of backing away because you’re so enthusiastic. You’re a great, great singer. So you think you’re a great, great worshiper, but you go to work and you’re on Facebook. You go to work and you’re…you know what? You’re on the upside of that. You’re not wasting 2.5. You’re one of those on the outlier that’s kind of bringing everybody else’s average, or you’re wasting three, four, five hours on Facebook, or Amazon, or whatever it is, right? You’re a slacker at work. And listen to me. You’re a great singer at church, but a big slacker at work. You’re not as sincere a worshiper as you think you are. Because our work is an extension of our worship. Listen to me. The quality of our work confirms or denies the sincerity of our worship. The quality of our work either confirms or denies the sincerity of our worship. How you live at work, how well you serve your employer either proves that you are a sincere worshiper of Jesus, or it calls that into significant question, okay? Good news, bad news, but it’s news we have to pay attention to, okay?

And he says this. He says, “You’re supposed to do it because you know that the Lord will reward each one for whatever good they do, whether slave or free, whether employee or employer.” I love that, okay? Because what it says is that working hard isn’t just the right thing to do, but it’s also the thing that leads to rewards. He’s saying that God rewards those who work well. That’s awesome, right? God rewards those who work well. That’s fantastic. And notice, he didn’t just say for Gospel good, right? He didn’t say he’ll reward whoever does Gospel good. He says, “Reward whoever does whatever good.” Right?

So listen, you share the Gospel with somebody, that’s good and God rewards it. You’re generous with your finances. That’s good, and God rewards it. You go on a short-term mission trip. That’s good. God rewards it. You join a serve team at work. That’s good and God rewards it. But check this out. You spend a little bit extra time on that spreadsheet to make it perfect for your boss. That’s good, and God rewards it. You polish up that presentation to make your boss look really good to his or her boss. That’s good. God rewards it. You work hard at studying if you’re student in school. That’s good and God rewards it. Kids, you clean up your room like mom asks, not just by getting everything out of sight, but actually genuinely clean the room up, right? That’s good and God rewards it. You get your job done on time and under budget. You save the company money. That is good, and God rewards it. God rewards whatever good we do. That’s fantastic news.

And as a bonus, check this out. Great work earns us permission to live on mission on the job. See, at Mission Hills, we’re all about helping people become like Jesus and join him on mission, which means extending his influence out into the world. And listen, you can’t extend God’s influence out of the world if you’re not willing to talk about Jesus out in the world. And if you’re called to extend his influence into your work, that means you’re gonna have to talk about your faith at work. And I know a lot of Christians are really nervous about that because they feel like, “If I do that, you know, I’m gonna get in trouble and maybe even I’m gonna get fired.” And, you know, we’ve heard stories about that kind of thing happening, but check this out. I’m not saying it can’t ever happen, but I’m gonna tell you this. Do you know what the greatest safety net is for being outspoken about your faith and on mission with Jesus at your job is? Do you know what the greatest safety net is? It’s the quality of your work.

Listen to me. Do you think, for one second, that they’re gonna fire the top salesperson in the company, the top salesperson in the company just because she happens to tell people that she’s a follower of Jesus? Not gonna happen. You think they’re gonna get rid of the engineer that keeps finding ways to improve the bottom line of the company, keep finding ways to improve their products and increase their profits just because he keeps a Bible on his desk and he invites people to come to church with him on the weekend? Not gonna happen. Do you think the contractor who gets the job done on time and under budget… That does happen. It does. Do you think the contractor who gets the job done on time and under budget but who also hands his clients, you know, an invite card to the next sermon series of his church, you think they’re gonna stop calling that guy to come do work? Not a chance, right? Listen to me. The quality of our work gives us permission to live on mission with Jesus. And that’s an awesome thing. Okay. So what do we know? Here’s what we know. Employees, we’re supposed to see your work as an extension of your worship by treating your employers with respect and loyalty. That’s what you’re supposed to do. That’s the bottom line, okay?

Now, that’s employees. What about employers? Here’s what he says. He says, “And [employers], treat your [employees] in the same way.” I love that. “In the same way.” In other words, extend to them what you expect from them, right? He says, “Treat them in the same way.” Okay? Well, what does that mean? What’s “In the same way?” Well, what he’s already said. He said this. He says, “It’s about respect and loyalty and doing it as though you’re serving Jesus.” So employers must treat their employees with respect and loyalty as if they’re serving the Lord. Okay? That’s what they’re supposed to do. Now, obviously, it’s gonna look a little bit different for an employer to show respect and loyalty to an employee, but it’s the same concept, respect and loyalty as if you’re serving the Lord.

Okay. If you’re an employer, what does this look like? Well, let me give you a few things, some things that I’ve learned in my own journey from employee over to the other side of the table as employer. The first one is this. Assume complexity before incompetence. If that sounds familiar, this is exactly what I said to employees. You know, employees are questioning, you know, the boss’ every decision because they’re not aware of all, you know, the factors that are going into that decision. Well, employers, we’ve got to do the same thing with our employees. And sometimes we get frustrated because, you know, we ask them to do something, it’s taking an awfully long time, or it didn’t come out quite the way we expected it would. And we get frustrated. And we tend to assume that either they’re lazy or they’re just not paying attention, or they’re not doing their job. But the reality is, remember, every position has a perspective. That includes the employee positions. And sometimes our employees are in a position to see things that as employers, we don’t see. And so we ask them to do something. It seems super simple, super easy, but the reality is it’s a lot more complex. And maybe they’re trying really hard, but they’re struggling to get it done in the time frame that we expected or in the way that we expected because we’re not aware of complexity. And so rather than assuming that they’re incompetent, we should start with the assumption that there’s complexity, okay? Assume complexity before incompetence. We need to ask questions before we pass judgments. That’s one of the ways we can do it.

Another way we can do it is this. Promote from inside rather than hiring from outside whenever possible, right? In other words, especially with upper-level positions, sometimes, you know, we find a management position, something like that, and we’re like, “Okay, I need to bring somebody in,” and we never even pay any attention to the people who were managed by that supervisor, right? We kind of look outside the organization and immediately go, “I need somebody else who’s got the same experience as that position had and, you know, they occupied the same position in another company. And so we’ll bring somebody from the outside.” But the reality is that sometimes we have people in our organizations that are ready to rise up. And we should ask that question first. Before we look to the outside, we should look to see if we have somebody else that we can raise up into that position. It’s actually gonna be good for us, in addition to being good for them, because the reality is, they’re gonna have our culture. We’re already gonna know whether or not we can trust them, whether they have chemistry. We already know what they’re able to do and maybe where they struggle. And so where we can kind of come alongside them. So it’s really good for us, too.

And that’s part of being, I think, respectful and loyal to our employees, is to try to hire from within or promote from within rather than hire from without, okay? Now, you can’t always do that. I know that. Sometimes you don’t have the right person, so sometimes you do have to go outside, but we should at least start by asking the question, “Do we have somebody else here who’s ready to rise up before we reach out to bring somebody else into the organization?” Okay?

Here’s another thing you can do. You can invest in employee development. Okay? Invest in employee development. We try really hard to do this here at Mission Hills. We spend a fair amount of money on sending staff to conferences and having training days and getting them further education for stuff. And I know some employers kind of, they balk at this. They get a little nervous. In fact, I’ve had conversations just recently with an employer who went, “Yeah, that’s great for the church, but the problem is, in the business world, you know, if you develop your employees, you make them really good at what they do, they’re just gonna go somewhere else and work for somebody else. And so it will have all have been a wasted investment.” And first off, I’m like, “Yeah, I think you might have a problem in your company.” If you’re developing people and they’re immediately jumping ship, there might be a bigger problem.

But let’s say that they do, okay? Let’s say they do go work for somebody else. That’s okay because here’s the thing. Being respectful and loyal to your employees means caring about them as people rather than producers. It means caring more about them for the people that they are rather than for the producing that they can do for our company, okay, or for our church, our small business, whatever it is. And if we really care about people, then we’re gonna want the best for them, whether that’s with us or not with us, okay? So if you invest in developing somebody and they go work for somebody else and it’s good for them, you know, you should consider that a win. That’s what it means to be respectful and loyal to our people, okay? And honestly, if you don’t feel that way, then the chances are you don’t have genuine respect or loyalty to your employees. We take this seriously enough at Mission Hills. Actually, I have a full-time staff person who’s in charge of staff development, and she sits on my executive team. That’s how important I think this is. And really wanna encourage employers out there if you’re gonna say that you are loyal and respectful to your employees, are you looking to develop them as people as well as workers?

Here’s another thing you can do. You can invest in developing a healthy culture, okay? So much stuff written about this, we don’t have anywhere near enough time to dig into it, but this is the thing. Maybe you’ve heard this phrase before. Culture eats vision for breakfast, or culture eats mission for breakfast, okay? Culture is basically…it’s the actual values that drive the way you interact and make decisions in your organization, okay? Not the ones that you print on, you know, plaques and things like that and say, “Oh, we care about this. We care about that.” I mean the ones that actually impact your day-to-day operations, the actual values that drive the way you interact with each other, and the decisions that you make, okay?

Developing a healthy culture is one of the best ways that an employer can demonstrate respect and loyalty to their employees because the thing is, if you have a really healthy culture, you’re gonna achieve your mission, okay? You’re gonna achieve your vision. You’re gonna hit your goals and your benchmarks. But if you have an unhealthy culture, it doesn’t matter what you do or how much you drive people, you’re probably not gonna get there, okay? This is something we take pretty seriously at Mission Hills. I had somebody say to me the other day, “At a church the size of Mission Hills, do you kind of feel like a CEO rather than a pastor?” Yeah, there’s some truth to that, but actually, you know what? I don’t think of myself as a CEO. I actually think of myself as a CCO, a chief culture officer because I really believe that one of my most important jobs as the pastor here is to inspire people by creating a culture that allows us to accomplish our mission, a culture where people feel valued and cared for.

Here’s another thing you can do, the last thing for employers out there. You can review your compensation on a regular basis. A lot of employers go, “Well, I give everybody, you know, a 2% raise or whatever every year.” And that’s not a bad starting point, but you know what? There’s things that happen that maybe require you to reevaluate that people have more experience now. And maybe if you were hiring somebody else for that position, with that amount experience that they now have, you pay them more. So maybe you need to pay that employee more or the housing market’s changed. And if you want people to be able to live and thrive, you maybe need to pay them more.

We’re actually doing this right now at Mission Hills. We have a process every year that we go through that we think is fair to try to get people not only to pay them what other churches our size and in our kind of area of the country are paying people doing similar jobs, but we wanna pay them a little above that because one of our core values is crazy generosity. But you know what? We actually paid some money to a consultant this year to do an independent compensation analysis for all of our staff to make sure that we’re being as fair and generous as we think we are. And if we’re not, we’re gonna make changes, okay? So there are some suggestions if you’re an employer about how you can show respect and loyalty. Basically, all I’m asking you to do is extend what you expect. That’s it, okay? Extend the respect and the loyalty that you expect.

He says, “Do not threaten them,” or literally it says, “Give up threats,” implying that for a lot of employers, threatening employees in one way or another is kind of their standard way of leading. And it’s a terrible way to lead. He said, “Give that up.” He says, “And do it, do that, give that up since you know that he, who is both their Master and yours, is in heaven, and there is no favoritism with him.” Basically, he says, “Hey, God’s not impressed by your position, employers. He’s the real big boss.” Okay? So bottom line, employers, see your work as an extension of your worship by treating your employees with respect and loyalty. It’s the same thing, right? It plays out a little different, but it’s the same thing, both sides of the table, right? What’s the big idea, for all of us, employer, employee, middle manager, see our work, we need to see our work as an extension of our worship by treating one another with respect and loyalty. Those two ingredients, they will transform your work relationships, transform them. I promise you.

All right. Let’s push in a little bit. A question for all the employees out there. Is the quality of my work confirming or denying the sincerity of my worship? That might be an uncomfortable question to push into, but I’m gonna challenge you to push into it. Does the way that you conduct yourself at work extend your worship out into the world, or does it actually call into question the sincerity of your worship? Here’s another question for employees. What’s one way I could improve the quality of my work? What’s one way that I could up the quality of my work and in that way, extend my worship into my work and into the world?

Here’s a couple questions for employers. How about this one. Am I guilty of threatening my employees in some way, holding some kind of a threat over them to try to motivate them to work? It’s not respectful? It’s not being loyal. So, what do I need to do to change that? Okay? If that’s the way that you are leading, what do you need to do to give up those threats, as Paul says? Instead, lead them out of respect and loyalty to them. Okay? The last question. What’s one thing I can do to extend the loyalty to my employees that I expect from them? One thing you can do to extend loyalty, you don’t have to come up with a billion things or 20 things, or even 5 things this week. What’s one thing you can do as an employer to extend to your employees what you’re expecting from them? Okay. The Bottom line? No matter where you sit at the table, right, bottom line, see your work as an extension of your worship by treating one another with respect and loyalty. Would you pray with me?

Hey, God, we just give you thanks. For those of us who have jobs, we just give you thanks that we have jobs. Maybe they’re jobs that are difficult, maybe they’re jobs that we’re struggling with our employees or our employers, or maybe with our fellow workers, but Lord, we’re thankful in the season that we have jobs, and we say that to you right now. But we also lift up all those who are struggling in this season. We know that a lot of people have lost jobs. We know that a lot of employers have had to make really difficult calls of furloughing employees or laying them off or cutting their wages. And I know that they’re heartbroken over that. They’re losing a lot of sleep over that. So we pray for those who have lost jobs and for those who have had to cut those jobs. And we pray that there would be a return to our economy quickly, as you end this pandemic and bring people back to work. Lord, maybe not only would all those people get their jobs back but maybe even those who had been struggling, looking for work before this pandemic started, would find meaningful, significant work at the end of it because of the greatness of your blessing on us, as we take these commands seriously.


Now, if you’re a follower of Jesus, would you do something for me? Would you just take a moment right now, just begin praying? Start praying for all those who are watching around the world who don’t have a relationship with Jesus. And if that’s you, you tuned into this and, you know, maybe you don’t go to church normally and you’re not a follower of Jesus, that’s fine. We’re so glad you’re with us. Hopefully, you found some practical things today that’ll be a blessing to you. But the most important thing you need to hear is this. You know, Paul talked about, we all have a Master in heaven. What you need to understand is you have a Master in heaven. There is a God in heaven who treats us with the same respect and loyalty that he calls us to give to one another in the workplace. He treats us with love.

See, we’ve all sinned. We’ve all done wrong. We’ve all rebelled against God. We’ve walked away from him. And there’s a cost to that. The cost is death, separation from God for all eternity. But in spite of our sin, God loves us so much that he sent his own Son, Jesus, who lived the perfect life. He had no sin to pay for. So when he went to the cross, he reached down, he took our sin on his shoulders. He died to set us free from our sin, from the guilt and shame, to remove all the barriers between us and God. That’s how deeply God loves you. That’s how deeply our Master in heaven respects us and is loyal to us. He sent his own Son to die for us. Three days later, he rose from the dead. And he provides salvation, forgiveness, and freedom simply by faith, by trusting in what he did for us, and our relationship with that Master who loves us, a relationship that begins now and transforms life here now, but it goes on forever.

And if you’ve never begun that relationship, here’s how you can do it. Wherever you are, you’re just gonna have this conversation with God. If you’re ready to put your trust, to put your faith in this God, here’s how you do it. Just say this in your heart:

Hey God, I know that I have not been loyal and respectful to you. I’ve sinned. I rebelled against you, and I’m sorry. Thank you for sending your son Jesus to pay for all the wrong I’ve done. I believe he rose from the dead to prove that he’d paid my debt. And I understand that he’s offering me forgiveness and freedom and a relationship with you just by faith. So I’m gonna put my faith in you, Jesus, right now. I’m saying yes to a relationship with you. Come into my life. I’m yours for now and forever. Amen.

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