I Work for God ... Then my Employer
By William Bezanson
“Who do you work for?” is a common question that one receives on first meeting someone new.
Nearly everyone will reply by naming some company, or agency, or organization which employs them. That is the expected response.
But years ago, at one of my early jobs, a fellow employee, Les by name, gave me a remarkable response. This article documents his answer, and how it affected and changed me.
Les and I were peer directors in a small computer systems company, and we were just getting to know each other. He took me into his office one day, closed the door, and said that he had an important revelation to make to me. I felt apprehensive, but paid attention, very curious about what he had to say.
Les explained that he wanted to tell me for whom he worked, and grabbed a pen to write on his whiteboard. I relaxed, assuming that he would draw an organizational chart. But he surprised me:
“At the top, and of prime importance, I work for God!” he started, and wrote “God” at the top of the board. I was taken aback, because I was totally unaccustomed to having the G-word ever mentioned in the workplace.
He continued, “Next, I work for my Family!”, and he wrote that word on the board, below the first one. I knew what he meant, for my own family was very important to me, also.
“Next, I work for the customer, and my team, and my employer.” Wow! I thought, this guy is weird! Perhaps more than weird, but a nutcase! Never in my imagination would I ever get such an astonishing and unprecedented speech about a hierarchy of employers!
But that little orientation session turned out to be an amazingly great turning point in my life, my spiritual life, and I never forgot it. At first, as mentioned, I was shocked and surprised by Les’s brazen boldness in explaining that God was at the top, above his family, the company, etc. in his view of whom he worked for. So I politely dismissed his ideas, and for some weeks treated him as not to be trusted.
Then, over the years, I came to understand, and eventually to believe in what Les had explained to me. Now, some 35 years later, I am content to tell others a very similar message as what Les told me. Of course, a great deal of changes had taken place in my life, primarily in my spiritual unfolding and my understanding of my place and role in the Cosmic unfolding of the universe. After much thinking on the topic, I have finally settled on the following hierarchy, evolved from what Les had described to me as his own:
I now work for 1) God, then 2) my Family, then 3) my Profession, next 4) my sense of values, and then 5) the customer, and 6) the current project, and finally for 7) my company or employer.
An uncountable number of other interactions with Les I have totally forgotten. But that lesson from him I never forgot.
In my retirement, I don’t have a formal employer any longer, so that final entity, #7, blends into my own sense of my main “work”, namely, writing/lecturing for my prime mission in life, working to heal the World (Earth plus Spirit) through helping to implement a Spiritual State in this Mundane World. That mission overlaps with #4, 5, and 6, above. But I still hold that hierarchical model in mind as I approach any new project or as I visualize just why I am doing each task. My books, articles, and presentations all fit in that hierarchical model.
I encourge you, dear reader, to think deeply about who you work for. Consider not just the traditional answer, but explore your work relationship with your profession, your ethics, and God, as well as other aspects of living that you might want to include in such a hierarchy. And you might want to reevaluate your hierarchy periodically, say every five years.
Then, when you have formulated your own hierarchy, you can use it to make decisions on all sorts of things. If your employer instructs you to do something, but your personal ethical values indicate the opposite, then you should find some way not to do it. If your current project requires you to do something that contradicts what you view that God would not want, then you will have a clear understanding of which way you should act. If your Family values say one thing but the Customer needs something else, then you have a tough decision to make, but at least you know the parameters of that decision and know which way is right.
Such a statement of hierarchical employer values will serve you well for the rest of your life.
I acknowledge with gratitude that lesson that Les Woolsey gave me all those years ago. It has made me a better person, and I thank him for helping me.
William Bezanson is a retired electrical/software engineer who has turned into an author. He writes a monthly column for OMTimes and books on world stewardship, and he lectures on these topics. His latest book is I Believe: A Rosicrucian Looks at Christianity and Spirituality, available on amazon.com. Bezanson’s website is www3.sympatico.ca/bezanson1. He lives with his wife in Ottawa, Canada.