“You can’t clean the floor with a dirty mop, Missy!” This was the sarcastic remark the restaurant manager, Warren, made to me as he rolled his eyes. At sixteen years old, working at my first job, it had never occurred to me that the mop had to be washed before cleaning the floor. I was totally clueless. I complied. I washed the mop, filled the bucket and proceeded to clean the floor thoroughly.
Several weeks later Warren gave me a performance review. Even today, more than 30 years later, I remember that review because it stated that I was “lasy.” He misspelled the word lazy, L-A-S-Y. He tried to write over the S with a Z. My 16 year old sensibilities and pride were offended. “I am NOT lazy!” I stated with raised eyebrows. “…and if you’re going to call someone lazy, at least make sure you spell it right!” I thought to myself.
While I lacked the experience and training of the older employees at the restaurant, I wanted to work there and knew that I was capable of performing well. This was a moment many teenagers, and some adults tend to blow. Somehow I knew it was a defining moment. I could lose my temper and tell Warren that he didn’t know what he was talking about and he didn’t know me very well. Alternatively I could receive his criticism and show him that he was incorrect in his assessment. I chose the latter. I accepted his correction, even though I had absolutely no respect for him. Little did I understand, this was the Holy Spirit guiding me and laying the first bricks in my career foundation.
Those who disregard discipline despise themselves, but the one who heeds correction gains understanding. (Proverbs 15:32 NIV)
In every organization there are rules of conduct or systems for the manner in which duties are to be performed. This ensures continuity and a predictable outcome. The consistency resulting from discipline benefits everyone within the organization and it develops us personally. When we deviate from the established guidelines in the workplace it’s likely that we will be corrected and retrained to perform the task according to our employer’s specifications. Our ego may resent or resist correction. However, in the long run, it’s in our best interest to adhere to company practices. In fact, by showing ourselves to be coachable, we not only learn to perform our job correctly, but we demonstrate our interest to reach the best outcome, rather than our own selfish interest. Ultimately we benefit ourselves when we willingly receive correction.
I worked with Warren for two years. During that time, he promoted me twice. He was several years older than me and came from a different background than I did. We rarely talked about personal matters because it was clear there was absolutely no common ground. However, when it came to work, he understood that I had ethics and I was reliable. He learned that I was not lazy. I was actually his most valuable employee. He groomed me to become his replacement when he left the company to start his own restaurant. While I was in college he contacted me to help him with the startup of another new business. When I got married, he was sitting in one of the front pews of the church. This was all the result of my obedience to the Holy Spirit and application of Biblical truth in the workplace. The fundamental bricks which were laid in those years enabled me to build a foundation which has benefitted me professionally my entire adult life.