ON BEING A PRESENCE
A dear friend of mine heads up a thriving business which in reality is a combination of businesses and at lunch one day a while back I asked him if what he did was mainly to administrate and see that everyone did their job. My question was poorly phrased and his response broke the bounds of the question with its richness.
He said he worked at being “a presence” and that is precisely what he is in his company. He is more than an administrator and an advisor who often has to make decisions and set precedents that go against what some employees might think are warranted. He is more than a leader who determines specific policies without explaining all to his work force. He’s the visible force of the company; he embodies its spirit and heart. Even when he isn’t there, he’s there, and his vision is what shapes the direction in which the company moves forward.
Even the employees who don’t know him at a personal level to any marked degree are influenced by the “spirit” of the company for which they work and the spirit is embodied in my friend who provides “a presence” there. His presence has so shaped the firm that when they become a part of it they enter within the sphere of his influence and are affected by his vision of things and by those around them who are also affected by that vision; a vision that’s made visible by how he goes about being what he is in the workplace. I don’t believe nor do I wish to believe that all the companies in the area are crooked; that isn’t my point; but because he is a presence there I know one company I can do business with and be sure I’m getting fair, honest, courteous and satisfying treatment.
Millions of us believe we see that truth at work on a cosmic scale in the person of Jesus. We hold him to be Lord and we claim he makes decisions and determines some policies but we believe that that truth is only one facet of what we think about the Lord Jesus. As my friend is “a presence” in his company so Jesus is “a presence” in the world. 1 Peter speaks of those who haven’t seen Jesus but says of them. “Still you love him.”
My friend isn’t Jesus [there’s only one Jesus!]. I need hardly tell you that humans being humans his numerous employees at some time or another and in some way or another surely mistreat the clients—that’s life as we know it but where his spirit prevails for his company that won’t happen. I’d insist that my friend’s presence in his company is shaped by Jesus’ presence in the world and that he is, in that respect, a servant of Jesus Christ as a agent of change for good to the human society.
Not everyone goes along with the spirit of Jesus [do I need to tell you that?] but even the brilliant though confused Bertrand Russell toward the end of his life confessed that if the world was to get any better we would need to look to the spirit of Jesus Christ and his way in the world. While more needs to be said about Jesus than Russell would have allowed, Russell was right on target. My friend’s company can’t be all it can be without his “presence” and the world can’t be all it can be without the presence of the Lord Jesus who shapes the vision and the behaviour of people beyond his own peculiar People.
The point I began with was illustrated just a couple of weeks later when I had some work done and went to pay for it and the invoice was adjusted. My friend’s trusted employee and colleague chuckled as he completed the adjustment. “Don’t want the boss to think I was gouging you,” he said. Bearing in mind that a presence was there I couldn’t help saying, “That’d never happen here.”
One day when Jesus returns to right all wrongs and when as compensation he ”restores all the years the locusts have eaten” to all those who have been ceaselessly oppressed, in a world made new someone, somewhere, will smile and say, ”Let me adjust that bill. Don’t want the Boss to think I’m gouging you” and the answer will come back, ”That'd never happen here.”
©2004 Jim McGuiggan. All materials are free to be copied and used as long as money is not being made.
Many thanks to brother Ed Healy, for allowing me to post from his website, theabidingword.com.