On Doing Our Best

Standard

I’m a real stickler for doing a job right. It’s not that I possess this overactive sense of correctness, more that I’m a bit fed up with the lax attitude afflicting so many people today concerning their work. There’s something about having to call a business six and seven times in order to get a job done at all, much less done right the first time.

For the first time in the history of my freelance writing business, I missed a deadline. Now yes, I did call the client a few days before the deadline to ask for an extension (which was granted graciously), and yes, I did get the work in the day after my original deadline. But still, in three years I’d never missed a deadline.

Now sure, anyone who works has to rely on others for help or information to meet the demands of his job, and this is often where the breakdown occurs. But an excuse is an excuse, and I sure hear a lot of excuses nowadays.

What really galls me is when a company hides its sloppy work (and lackadaisical attitude toward completing that work) behind a big ol’ ichthus symbol. They’ll slap that fish on their Yellow Pages ad, paint it on their trucks, and scream to the world, Awake, O Sleeper...“I’m your brother in Christ, y’all can trust me.” Or when something goes wrong and doesn’t get righted, “Grace, man, grace!”

I’m a small business owner who just happens to be a Christian, so I try really hard to give my business to fellow Christian businesspeople. Hey, I can commiserate. But because I uphold an extremely high standard for my own work, I expect the same from the folks I hire to help me.

I wish I could say I’ve never been disappointed in the Christians I’ve hired. Truth be told, my experience has been so bad that I’m delighted when someone actually does the work right!

Isn’t that a terrible thing to say?

Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men, knowing that from the Lord you will receive the inheritance as your reward. You are serving the Lord Christ.
—Colossians 3:23-24

The depressing truth about that passage is a lot of Christian business owners excise it from the Scriptures. If not by taking an X-acto knife to their personal Bibles, then by failing to heed it in practice.

My church hired a Christian business to do the church’s pictorial directory and it took months of cajoling for that company to finally turn in their effort. I kept asking our church secretary whether she would like me to mention the company by name in a post like this one, publicly excoriating the company for not giving two hoots about delivering on their promises. She told me to hold off. Nine months after the fact, we finally got our directories.

I wonder how Christ was honored by that company’s actions.

What we are outside of church on Sunday mornings matters. If we’re not publicly exemplifying the Christian walk, then what are we doing? Shouldn’t we be doing our best at all times and in all places because of the Lord we serve?

14 thoughts on “On Doing Our Best

  1. Dan,
    I sure am in the amen corner on this one! I have come to the place, where if there is an open advertisement of Christianity in a business, I won’t do business with them. Too many times have Christian business people felt Christianity was their excuse to use me as a doormat. I suspect because they knew I wouldn’t complain too vociferously, or take them to court. We teach folk to be missional, to take their Christianity to the workplace, but I’m beginning to think we need an Assissian approach– witness at the workplace, use words (or symbols) if necessary.

  2. Here, here. It’s sad to confess that I too don’t trust “Christian” businesses anymore. From mechanics to contractors, I’ve had horrible experiences and felt ripped-off several times. I’ve had better experiences with businesses that don’t advertise themselves as Christian (publicly or word-of-mouth). There’s no comparison!

    Sad, isn’t it? When those outside the church hold a higher standard of integrity in business, then you know we’ve really got a problem! I think part of the problem is that in North America “Christianity” has become about what we believe rather than how we behave. Or, should I say, what we mentally assent to as “the truth” rather than how we live the truth.

  3. Dan, this comment is only tangentially related, but your post brought back a flood of memories of a particular time when I was a freelance writer. I had a major project due to the client one Friday morning. That Wednesday I called the client, also a Christian and a friend, and told him that my mother probably wouldn’t make it through the week, and would it be OK if I took a few extra days.

    His answer? “We really need it Friday, man.”

    I don’t fault him for that reply. He was under intense pressure to complete a multi-million dollar project, and in fact he didn’t demand that I complete my part of it on deadline.

    But I made up my mind to make it. Thursday evening I took my luggable 386 to the hospital and worked in the hallway till 1 a.m., when a nurse came and told me I probably ought to be in my mother’s room. I thank God for that nurse, because my mother died within the hour with me, my wife, and my dad at her side. By 4 a.m. we had made tentative funeral arrangements, the rest of my family was in bed, and I went back to finishing my project. At 8 a.m. I showed up at the client’s office with the chapter completed and apologies that it might not be quite up to my usual standards. Then I met the rest of my family at the funeral home to make arrangements for my mother’s funeral.

    I don’t know if I’m more proud or ashamed of my work on that project. But to tell you the truth, I’ve never taken deadlines as seriously since then.

    • onthuhlist

      My two cents? I think that guy was a jerk who said he needed it by Friday. At the very least he could have paid you for what you had done so far, and then hired someone else to complete the work. That’s just inhuman.

  4. francisco

    Sadly, in my country business people still blow their “Total Quality” trumpet. Could it be that perfectionism has ruined and kept the third-world countries in shambles? I think perfectionism and slopiness are good cousins…

  5. Wolfgang Amadeus

    Dan- I heartly agree with you on this one. My experiences with the “Fish” have not be great. Currently I am an Independent Piano Teacher, and the only thing on my card, besides the essentials, is a decorative emblam, and its not a “Fish”.

    Most of my business comes from my Church community, and I know that most of those souls are very hard workers and run their own companies. Their ethics are fair, and they expect their workers to do their jobs. If they don’t- the workers don’t have jobs. Simple as that.

    The “Total Quality” trumpet, has been ringing in most companies here for over ten years- and I cannot say that its an improvement in the manufacturing scene. There is no consideration for the Sabbath or the Lord- its just seven days a week, three shifts a day, ’round-the-clock. I cannot say that that is an improvement.

    When most private companies fail here in America, its not surprising that people will do what they can to market to a certain elect. Marketing is one of my biggest problems- I keep trying, but its not easy. Everyday I pray for students..

    They will come when the Heavenly Father sees fit I guess.

    Cheers,
    Wolfgang

  6. onthuhlist

    I was recently shocked by the local ‘Christian’ music station, WMUZ 103.5 FM in Detroit. Yes, I put the word ‘Christian’ in single quotes for a reason. Bear with me. You see, on their famous Bob Duko show, the general manager for WMUZ came on the air and explained that first and foremost, WMUZ is a BUSINESS, not a ministry. In other words, when Jesus said “You can’t serve God and money”, here’s a radio station saying, “You’re right, and we choose money.” You see, the really annoying thing about WMUZ is that they promote their advertisers with the same enthusiasm that they promote Jesus Christ. So one gets the feeling that the friendly eastside ‘Christian Chiropractic’ will heal their backs with the same fidelity, care, and concern that Jesus Christ puts into healing their souls. And so what happens when one of these advertisers has a bad day and doesn’t give stellar service one day? The damning thing is WMUZ’s slogan: “WMUZ – The Light”. So if you claim to be a light pointing to Jesus Christ, (i.e. a ministry) on the one hand, why on the other hand are you claiming to be first and foremost a business?

    The real issue I have here is using the name of Jesus Christ to peddle a business and make a buck. Everyone has a right to earn a living. And ministers of the gospel have a right (says the apostle Paul) to earn that living from the ministering of the gospel. But to put the business aspect before the ministry aspect makes the gospel of Christ subservient to the almighty dollar. And as Christ said, “no one can serve two masters.”

    • onthuhlist,

      I dunno.

      Let’s face it: you can’t be on the radio as a ministry anymore. The cost is too high. IMO, I’ve got to give a thumbs up to any Christian radio station owner that just comes right out and says, “We’re a business.” The lie comes when people says, “We’re a ministry.” Because 99% of the time, they really aren’t and they know they aren’t.

      The reason this doesn’t bother me is that I don’t see Christian radio in the Bible, especially the kind of Christian radio station whose programming is nearly 100 percent music—which is what more and more of them are doing. Whether that kind of Christian radio makes a difference or not, it’s so far down the totem pole on importance of making disciples as to be inconsequential. That’s why I think that having someone say “We’re a ministry” is so disingenuous. If the radio station is actually making disciples, it’s because all the traditional forms of making disciples are in such massive disarray. It’s a bit like shooting rubber bands up into the sky and nailing a fly from time to time, then calling yourself an exterminator! Would a real exterminator use such a tactic? No way.

      That’s what I think of Christian radio. We can’t glamorize it. It serves an extremely minor role that if it were to dry up and blow away, no mature Christian would miss it. If a person’s getting their discipleship from a Christian radio station, something is horribly, horribly wrong.

  7. Having worked for WMUZ for 8 years from 1986 to 1994, perhaps I can give you some insight.

    Frank Franciosi was the General Manager when I was there, just as he is now. We had a very honest philosophy which is basicly this:

    WMUZ listeners are going to spend their money on car repairs, doctors, dentists, etc. They also are going to (hopefully) give money to support their church and ministry’s that they believe in.

    Instead of asking listeners to divide their giving and add WMUZ as one more place to send their funds, WMUZ operates as a business and charges advertisers for commercial time. Those advertisers are selected and interviewed and only the best and honest businesses are (usually) on the air.

    I was one of those responsible for writing and producing the advertising campaigns for companies that are still on the air such as Hilton Mortgage and Independent Transmission. Just as Steve Bemis runs a Christian Transmission Shop and Ed & Sharon Santala run a Christian Mortgage Company, WMUZ is also a radio station run with Christian principles by Christians.

    • radio person

      Sorry Scott, but I spent 8 years at WMUZ as well, and it’s not run by Christian principles or by Christians. Mr. Franciosi & Mr. Crawford (the owner) are run by money, not Jesus. If you have a month I’d be glad to tell you the stories. One comes to mind when Mr. Crawford tells everyone “It’s MY money!”. Hmmm, he uses bible verses just to make him sound Christian, but the stuff I saw go on my top brass doesn’t make it seem like it!
      We almost had a divorce attorney as a client. Don’t think they were thinking of Jesus, but the money that would come in.

      Trust me, WMUZ is a radio station w/a “Christian” format, not a Christian radio station.

  8. Dear Radio person,

    8 years is a long time to work for a place. I had mixed experiences there. Yet, I appreciate what they are trying to do. (I wrote about this nearly a year ago in one of the previous comments).

    I had worked in radio on the air for 10 years before going to Detroit specifically to work for WMUZ. During that time I switched from production to hosting the morning show. When the previous host came back and wanted his job, I was let go. I was also lied to, that there were no openings. I went back to Frank and told him, I knew that they had an opening in production and I wanted it. He told me he thought I wouldn’t want that job again. I replied, I need a job, I can do that job, and I am good at that job. So I was hired back. A few months later when the salesperson I was working with, (Actually trying to train), was on the verge of losing his job, I told Frank that if the salesperson didn’t make it, I wanted his job, which is how I made the transition to sales.

    Today, and for the last 6 years, I have been working in sales and management for a group of stations in Fort Wayne Indiana. And despite the negatives of some of my experiences with WMUZ, I still believe that they have the right business model for Christian Radio.

    Your comment about a divorce lawyer… Christians need good legal help. Christians get divorced.

    I am a little surprised that you have a negative view of the “top brass” at WMUZ considering how long you stayed there. Maybe after some time has passed, you will grow to appreciate the intentions of the management, and be able to apply them at other places that you work.

    By the way, you can contact me directly at scloho at scloho dot net.

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