The factory owner had many employees. He spent a lot of time on the factory floor checking, encouraging, advising. They were very important to him. One day his assistant informed him that one of the assembly line operators didn’t show up for work. Bill was normally a hard worker… but he had heard rumors that the man had a drinking problem. He wondered, concerned.
Shocking his assistant, he rose from his desk, pulled off his tie, tossed his suit jacket onto his chair, rolled up the sleeves of his perfectly pressed dress shirt, and trotted to his car.
He drove to Bill’s house, knocking on the door, no response. Slowly driving up and down each street in the neighborhood, he searched carefully. Finally, he saw someone hunched over, sitting on the curb at a street corner a couple of blocks away. It looked like Bill, but he wasn’t sure. Pulling the car to a stop close to the corner, he got out and sat down next to Bill. His clothes were a mess. He had vomited in the gutter and reeked of it and the alcohol that caused it.
Bill looked up, recognized his boss, and groaned in shame. “Let’s get you home,” he heard. Then he felt strong arms lifting him up, walking him to his car, getting him safely belted in. The owner walked him into his house, got him into the shower, dug around for clean clothes, brewed a pot of coffee.
The next day, the owner saw Bill on the factory floor, on time, working harder than anyone in his section. “Funny,” he thought to himself,”I’m more pleased about Bill’s performance today than any of the other employees!”
Read the real version in Matthew 18:12-14.
Grace in the workplace? But we have policies and procedures, human resources guidelines, discipline, termination. Yes. Yes we do. And they have their place.
With this short story, Jesus attempts to teach his disciples about the high value He places on each person. He teaches that the more someone falls, the more we care for them. He shows them that EVERYONE is worth dying for. He gives them yet one more glimpse of a kingdom unlike anything they’ve ever imagined. Grace? Yes. Seeing through the faults. Seeing the intrinsic value of another person. Someone worth helping.
I have been blessed by seeing colleagues blossoming and succeeding at work in ways no one thought possible. Because of grace. Yes, it’s a dirty job sometimes. Yes, they fall again sometimes. Yes, they don’t always show appreciation. And yes, living and leading through expressing grace still has its own reward.
My failures, my shortcomings, remind me every day of my need for grace. Grace extended from colleagues, from my family, from my Jesus. How can I not do likewise?
This is Part 2 of a four part series. Part 1 is Leadership and Humility- Contradiction in Terms?