I realize it may sound a bit dramatic, but I don’t think I’ll ever forget it.
I was standing in downtown Nashville with the gray dust and grime of corporate construction coming up around my boots. They were relatively new Keen boots, and while I certainly bought them to get them dirty, it still frustrated me a bit that they were being baptized in this level of muck so fast after purchase.
We were building a large corporate tower and I was walking the site. I’m sure I stuck out like a neon sign in the dead of night. It was obvious I wasn’t in large construction.
Somehow I ended up talking to a plumber.
We were talking about his career and how he chose to forgo college to become skilled in a craft such as plumbing.
Can you imagine the insanity of a world where we don’t have master plumbers? I love stories like his.
I have found that men in large construction are incredibly intelligent, as long as you allow yourself the common sense appropriated to measure intelligence by something other than a silly metric such as a man’s ability to understand the finer depths of Tolstoy.
This man knew more about the finer points of Bob Seger. People like him ease my heart. They are honest. And smart.
The conversation turned. Not turning abruptly, more like a gentle curve you take as you wind up a country road. That’s when he said …
You know, I’m recruited by other corporations all the time.
Looking through his safety glasses, there was not a hint of arrogance in his eyes. He was pondering something.
I could tell more was coming.
Looking out toward the south high over Nashville through the large concrete square where a window would soon go the plumber said, “Just the other day, the Superintendent for the general contractor managing this job approached me and told me he’d been watching my work for months. He said to me, ‘I don’t know what you make, but I’ll offer you 20% more than your current salary if you’ll come on board with us.’”
He turned to me and said, “You know what I told him, Jason? I told him that I really appreciate your offer and I’m honored by it. And I could really use 20% of a salary increase, but I can promise you something, you could never, ever compensate me for the way I’m treated at this company.”
The Rest Of The Day …
All day long I could not get that man’s words out of my head. “You could never, ever compensate me for the way I’m treated.”
That man had monetized an emotion.
A 20% salary increase would be unspeakably difficult for anyone to pass up, but he didn’t even need time to think about it. The rejection of the career move was immediate … simply because that man felt genuinely valued at his workplace.
And the real question staring me in the eyes as I moved south back to Franklin along I-65 was “What was it that created that man’s loyalty?”
What was it, what was that X-factor, that created an ecosystem whereby a craftsman could flat out reject a 20% increase in pay on the spot?
I knew the answer.
Because I had backstory access to that ecosystem. I knew the senior executives who ran the company and I knew them well. I had spent time with those men. I knew their heart and it was their heart … that was the heart of the matter.
What created an environment that allowed a plumber to monetize an emotion was that the senior executives who created that company had found their calling. They were called to business. The marketplace was where they exercised their created gifts. Calling was in their bones.
They were far from perfect men.
I knew their heart, and I knew they were far from perfect. And their corporate culture was far from perfect, too. Yet that didn’t stop them from striving for excellence in the heart of the matter.
Can You Be Called To Business?
And we need leaders who are called to the marketplace. We need leaders who are unapologetically called to business.
See, this is what I know: God did not put you on this planet just to populate the earth.
Can you imagine a worldview so bleak as being born due to the mere reason that a man and a woman procreated and thus you came into existence?
No, you were created for a purpose.
There was a man named Jeremiah and God told him,
“Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, And before you were born I consecrated you; I have appointed you a prophet to the nations.” [Jeremiah 1:5]
Now, you may be relieved that God didn’t appoint your days for this earth to oversee a nation! However, it doesn’t change the fact that just like Jeremiah, God knew you before you were born and He appointed things for you.
God made you for a reason. And I can promise you this: your reason for being born is for reasons far larger than you.
This world needs marketplace leaders who are called to business; people who are actively living out a sense of calling in the workforce.
Why? It’s simple.
People with a calling change the environments to which they are called.
We hear a lot of talk in today’s world about people picking up their life and becoming missionaries. I love stories like that.
However, I’m telling you, you don’t have to move to a village outside Kurdistan just to have a mission. If God calls you to do that, you’d better do it; but don’t think you have to do that just to find meaning in life.
Our world needs people who are fully alive.
Leaders who are fully alive – leaders who know how God made them – and know why God made them – those leaders create marketplaces that impact communities for generations upon generations.
Those marketplaces contain reasons for existence far from brick and mortar and possession of market share.
When marketplaces are led by those who are called to business, those marketplaces hold within them the currency of people’s lives, a currency of human value where a 20% increase in pay doesn’t mean that much at all.
This article is part two of six in a series titled The Soul Of Business created by Jason Cruise. Jason is the Senior Pastor of ClearView Baptist Church in Franklin Tennessee, located at 537 Franklin Rd, Franklin, TN.