It’s Monday morning and the ringing of the alarm doesn’t bring the usual dread of another day starting. No, this morning is different than most Monday mornings. Today begins a new chapter—the first day at your new job. As you get out of bed, and begin getting ready, you feel a mix of excitement and nervousness. Will I be accepted? What is the culture like? And most important, does my office have a window?!
It wasn’t a job you were looking for; you didn’t even know a job like this existed. Recalling the day your phone rang with the job offer, a smile comes across your face—you still can’t believe it is true!
Pulling into the parking lot, you feel excitement, fear, and joy flooding your mind. With your heart racing, you check your hair in the rearview mirror, take a deep breath and step out of the car onto the pavement.
Human Resources meets you at the front door and greets you warmly. Good, a friendly face. As you walk down the hallways there are many people bustling around you, busy with their daily tasks. Your eyes wander through office windows, into conference rooms, and over cubicle walls. Suddenly you realize that your tour guide is three steps in front of you and giving you a few instructions over her shoulder. As you catch up, you realize she has brought you to Mark’s office. He’s the founder of the company and your new boss!
His assistant gives the nod and the two of you enter his office. What an office! Large picture windows, beautiful leather chairs, and the smell of morning coffee capture your attention. Children’s drawings are taped to the file cabinets, and a vacation photo with his wife sits on the book shelf.
As you take your place in one of the overstuffed leather chairs, he begins asking you questions—about your family, your children, and how you ended up in this new job. His smiles, nods, and follow-up questions assure you of his genuine care for you, not only as an employee, but as a person.
As the conversation shifts to the start of your new job, he describes the process for you to begin learning the new systems. He speaks in technical terms, yet in a way that you understand. It is not difficult for you to see his deep understanding of his company. What he shares with you makes you feel comfortable and in good hands. Once the welcome from your new boss has drawn to an end, it is time to continue the tour.
After winding around cubicles and finding the bathroom locations, the tour draws to an end at your new office. Your very own office! The excitement swelling inside spills out into a smirk, which gives way to a smile. Your office.
The rest of the morning consists of reading manuals, creating online accounts, and walking through the employee handbook. Welcomed interruptions come regularly as your coworkers poke their heads through your office doorway to introduce themselves and welcome you to the team. With only first impressions to go on, it certainly seems like you have a great team!
It is Ben, however, who makes the biggest impression on you. He takes a few extra minutes to come in and sit in your office. He tells you all about the company and some of the dynamics you need to be aware of. Ben fills you in on “how things really work around here.” He describes a work pattern that doesn’t seem to line up with what you heard from Mark. Ben talks about corners that can be cut. He says there are easier ways to accomplish your tasks that require much less work, but still produce a result that’s good enough to pass. He assures you that this is the way everyone does it. With an uneasy feeling, you thank Ben for his help and let him know that you need to get back to your reading.
As lunch rolls around, you lightly test Ben’s comments with others. It appears as though he may have been right! Many others give advice similar to what Ben shared with you. They tell you, “I know what Mark says, but…” And, “Mark is out of touch with how things really work. Trust me, this is how everyone works around here.”
As the afternoon slips away, your mind is spinning. This company took a chance and brought you in, offered you this position, and gave you an opportunity. Mark laid out a compelling vision for what could be. He showed you a future filled with hope and excitement. Not just for you, but for the difference this company could make in the entire community. Yet these visions and this future seem to be in conflict with Ben’s understanding of the work. And Ben represents the majority of employees.
Walking to your car at the end of day one, you feel noticeably different. A day that started with excitement and joy is ending with inner tension and struggle.
On the one hand there’s Mark, the founder, who has a clear vision for the future with a proven track record. His manuals are clear and articulate and they seem to make sense. Then there’s Ben. His way certainly seems easier and even looks like it might work. If that is the way everyone else works, maybe it is best—even if it is contrary to Mark’s way.
As your head hits the pillow for the night you come to the realization that you can’t have it both ways. Tomorrow morning you will need to decide. Will you begin your new job following Mark or following Ben? As your eyes close, you know the right answer, even if it is the unpopular answer.
There are so many voices vying for our attention. These voices are trying to tell us who we are and what we are to think about ourselves. Yet so many of these voices are contrary to God’s voice. He has spoken to you and to me. He has told us who we are, with him and without him. His Holy Scripture is given to us that we may have everything we need to understand what Christ has done for us. We are his children, and he explains how we are to live as his children in this world (Ephesians 2:8-10). Scripture alone serves as the authority for his children. It stands above all those other voices.
As your eyes open each morning, which voice will you listen to?
“And we also thank God continually because, when you received the word of God, which you heard from us, you accepted it not as a human word, but as it actually is, the word of God, which is indeed at work in you who believe” (1 Thessalonians 2:13).
Rev. Doug Rogness is Campus Pastor at Triumph Lutheran Brethren Church in West Fargo, North Dakota.