Yesterday, April 6th, 2016, Janet and I celebrated 33 years since the State of Indiana officially approved the Articles of Incorporation for our business. Each year round this time, I reflect on all the things that have happened since we moved to Indiana back the fall of 1982. After some initial work here in Indy and several trips to Washington, D.C. to work with the State Department, White House and a foreign embassy, Janet and I started our own company in the staffing business – applying with the State of Indiana on Janet’s birthday, April 2, 1983. It took them 4 days to approve our application and the rest, as they say, is history. That means we have been in business 17,363,520 minutes…
During the years, the company has employed more than 11000 people, with more than 1000 of them being employed by us in a single year. We have been involved in almost everything aspect of staffing from food product demonstrations (think grocery store sampling) to high end consulting with executive teams and international travel.
I have had the privilege of working the communications channel with engineers who have designed some of the finest medical products invented in recent years – including products that have improved the quality of life for people with cancer and I have even been honored to teach some of the engineers who worked on the NASA team earlier in their careers and were instrumental in designing components of the spacecraft that landed Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin on the surface of the moon. Needless to say much of this was pretty heady stuff for a relatively young guy trying to make his way in the corporate world.
Along the way, we helped companies respond to the needs of the country when the first Gulf War broke out in 1991 – one of our defining moments as a company. And through it all, we have counseled more than 60,000 people and found jobs for more than 15,000 deserving individuals. There have been many more highlights during the past 33 years – I could write for days about all the neat things that have happened, but I think you get the idea. Janet and I have led very interesting lives and we never know from year to year where we will be called to serve the needs of the corporate community.
But therein lies part of the problem – my ongoing confusion about that very calling. In fact, back in the late 1990’s, I couldn’t find peace with the way we were headed. So… as many of you know, Janet and I decided that I would attend seminary and leave the corporate world, perhaps forever… I started preparations to turn the company over to others while I initiated my studies.
That was a scary proposition. Not only was it risky from a human perspective but it had been years since I attended school and I was very concerned about how difficult it would be to learn at a pace that would allow me to keep up with the instructors and the rest of the class. My fears were not unfounded – after my first Greek class, I was on my way to drop-out when the Dean of the seminary stopped me and asked me to re-consider. He asked me to tow the line for three weeks and after that, if I still wanted to drop out, he would sign the required document. I agreed – and three weeks later I was hopelessly hooked on seminary and learning as much as I could about the One who created me.
It was a choice that, to this day, Janet and I count among the best decisions we ever made. I went on to earn several post graduate degrees and, with several of my Christian friends, started a ministry serving the needs of the unemployed. I really thought that God would open up the opportunity to lead a church, but I guess that wasn’t the plan – I found myself getting contacted by former clients and customers asking me to help them with their workplace problems – addressing the trials and tribulations of their people. It was incredibly rewarding work and I learned that God tends to use us where we are uniquely qualified to serve.
In my case, that became the intersection of my corporate experiences with more than 450 different companies and the biblical truths I had learned from my faith journey and seminary studies. I never thought that I could be as satisfied and excited about the work I do as I am now. Another thing I have come to realize is that God doesn’t waste anything – all the experiences that I have had have led me to this time and place.
And no matter how many companies I have helped, or how many employees we have had throughout the years, one thing is for sure, and that is the point of tonight’s verse – the fact that, as Christians, we are called to a higher standard and are to conform to the standards that God expects from us. Paul, the apostle, tells us in his letter to the Colossians, in Colossians 3:23-24, “Whatever you do, do your work heartily, as for the Lord rather than for men, knowing that from the Lord you will receive the reward of the inheritance. It is the Lord Christ whom you serve.”
These are great words. We are expected to serve the Lord, always keeping in mind that while we are to honor our bosses, customers and employees, ultimately, we are reporting to God. That is a fundamental truth that God makes clear to each of us. And it’s a daunting task, as each of us can do better than we currently do – we all fall short of perfection. Such, though, is the path of sanctification – the process of becoming more Christlike as we mature in our faith.
My encouragement this evening is that God expects us to conduct our business affairs with unparalleled commitment to truth, justice and humility. My prayer is that you will remember who your ultimate boss is and that you will use your job, your company and your relationships to demonstrate your commitment to the advancement of the Kingdom of God. Have a great day in the Lord, grace and peace…