The Not-so-secret Secret to Job Success

I am recently reminded of a growing work ethic problem. There are a number of workers (and unemployed people) that don’t understand basic issues of responsibility and reliability. It seems that simply showing up is becoming  a problem.. I have had several recent conversations with employers that have highlighted this.
A friend who is a director of a non-profit that works with children is trying to hire an entry level worker, and he pays several dollars an hour more than comparable jobs.  9 people submitted resumes, but none of them have returned his requests for interviews, or showed up for the interview once it was scheduled.
A friend who runs a large dental practice said it is very difficult to find reliable office help. He said he routinely has to hire 10 people in order to find 2 that will be able to maintain employment. The “no call/no show” is a common problem. People just don’t come to work, and they don’t call with warning or explanation.
Many years ago I was a training officer at an ambulance company and worked with new hires.  The majority of people (most of them younger) who were fired, lost their job because of chronic attendance/tardiness (NOT family or medical issues) and other simple issues like wearing the proper uniform. (And the uniforms were provided by a laundry service)   These were NOT entry level employees, but folks with years of education and licenses.
I also worked as an externship coordinator at a vocational school. Same story. The major complaints from potential employers (clinics, doctor’s office managers, etc) had little to do with technical skills and everything to do with attendance, attitude, staying off your cell phone at work, avoiding drama, etc. Almost all these problems involved attitude and life skills that don’t cost anything in terms of education or accomplishments.
If you want to bypass 80% of the competition in the workforce… if you want to keep a steady job… if you want to promote and be given more responsibility the first steps are simple: Show up on time, be ready to work, and do your job without having a babysitter.  Hard work covers a multitude of sins in the work place.

A Few Observations About The Immigration Conversation

How does the US stack up against other countries when it comes to welcoming immigrants? The answer might surprise you.

“The United States has more immigrants than any other country in the world. Today, more than 40 million people living in the U.S. were born in another country, accounting for about one-fifth of the world’s migrants in 2017. The population of immigrants is also very diverse, with just about every country in the world represented among U.S. immigrants.” (Source Pew, see below) The total number From the center for immigration studies is 46.5 million.

About 77% of all immigrants living in the US have been welcomed here legally.

“Since 1965, when U.S. immigration laws replaced a national quota system, the number of immigrants living in the U.S. has more than quadrupled.”

Here are some of my thoughts:

I think this reality is important for the conversation about immigration, if we can even use the word conversation. it seems to be dominated by those on both fringes that are shouting the loudest. It is important because The US has been more inviting to immigrants than any other country on earth, and to suggest otherwise is to ignore the facts. And it is also important because too often this conversation is used as a political tool with little consideration for real people. I am really thankful that our country has been so inviting to so many people all over the world.

I think these numbers also mean it is reasonable (and necessary) to talk about ways that immigration affects infrastructure, economy, the legal system, etc. It does little good to immigrants (new or old) to live in a broken system.

Think of this, more folks have immigrated to the US in recent decades than the entire population of the state of California. These new people depend on the presence of adequate roads, schools, available housing (California is already estimated to be 3 million homes short by 2025), hospitals, etc. I don’t have all the answers, I actually have far more questions than answers. But I am suspicious of anyone who doesn’t address these kinds of issues in the discussion about immigration. I also have a number of great friends who are not here legally, many brought here as children and they are great, productive, law abiding citizens, exactly the kind of people we want to build our society upon. I want there to be a better pathway for them to stay here legally. But I also know that some criminals try to leverage the system and that is frustrating for all. I don’t want people to be needlessly turned away who are seeking to immigrate, but I also don’t want immigrants exploited by people who will take advantage of them. All of this makes me feel that folks who offer simplistic solutions are out of touch.

Further, the US isn’t the savior of the world. Some voices in the conversation act like the US is the only hope for immigrants and refugees. Not so. I love my country but it is only one of many great places to live in the world.
Please no mean-spiritedness in the discussion.

Source: Key findings about U.S. immigrants | Pew Research Center

How To Be A Super Guest

This is a guest post from my wife, or “April’s pathetic rant on the other side of hospitality.”

It’s not pathetic, but we just joke around like that:

wreath from etsy

Did you know that hospitality is a two-way street? We are often encouraged to open our homes and hearts to others and rightly so. We recently had a large group of friends over and I’d love to share what they did that made me want to be hospitable every day to people like these:

 

How to be a Super Guest? It’s EASY!

Verbalize your gratitude to your host. Be specific and sincere, but not syrupy.

Offer to help (prep, serving, cleaning up). You’ll often be refused but it’s worth a shot!

BE INTERESTED and INTERESTING. Your hosts want to engage you, not entertain you.

ASK your hosts about what you see around you. Our homes are our inner sanctuaries and you can tell a lot about your hosts by their homes. Look around and take interest in what you see: Their cool photo collection, cooking skills, their obvious Ikea addiction, antique rocker, half-done remodel, their kids, HAM radio, track trophies, goldfish, Deer heads, gourmet coffee station, Raiders Shrine, Congressional Medal of Honor, WHATEVER. Ask your host about them (Our mammoth metal tuna fish tends to be a conversation starter)…

Be COMPLIMENTARY not CRITICAL: Yes, this is for all you stereotypical Mothers-In-Law! Ignore the laundry pile, they already know about it. (better yet, joke about it being smaller than yours) and focus on the houseplants or the new nursery, or the pretty sunlight in their apartment.

Bring your kids, but keep an eye on them, and allow them to explore in limited ways. This is a great time for kids to learn how to be guests too. (I seriously love kids, but our place is a House Of Horrors for them; leaning mirrors everywhere). They can learn that closed doors stay closed. That when they break something they can say ‘sorry’ and move on (this is inevitable so hosts, don’t be so attached to your stuff!). And can I just mention here that there’s nothing so sweet as little kids all saying goodbye with sweet words or waves or hugs? THE BEST.

Return the Favor: Let people into your world too 🙂

 

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Check out the cool wreath on Etsy.

 

 

 

“I Don’t Believe In God But I Miss Him”

This morning during my sermon I quoted this line by Julian Barnes, the author who wrote a book about living and dying as an atheist.

The whole interview is worth reading, but I pasted several questions that I felt were the most insightful. The only thing I know about him is from this interview, but based on this he appears to be the kind of thinking atheist that engages me as a  respectful, honest about his own struggles, and without venom that dismisses and insults anyone who disagrees with him.

Note his beautiful description of the value of a Christian belief in the after life, the nature of saints and martyrs, and his criticism of America. Ideas to chew on.

“Q: Your first line is, “I don’t believe in God but I miss him.”

A: That’s right, yes. I just found myself saying that when I was on some public stage and someone said, “Do you believe in God?” and that was my instant response, and it was one that on reflection I thought was true. I grew up in a family where, probably from the point when my grandmother lost her Methodist faith and became a Communist—or socialist—nearly, oh, 90 years ago, there hasn’t been anything that you would call faith in the family, let alone church attendance. But, you know, when a great story ends I think we all miss it, and it was a great story. There were aspects of it that leave a sense of want. One is that if life is a mere prelude or preparation for something else, then life becomes both more trivial and more important, and if not then we can grow to our full height but that height is comparatively dwarfish. If this is all there is and this is all we are then it’s a bit disappointing.

Q: You do talk about various writers and friends contemplating death and contemplating heaven, and I can’t recall one depiction of heaven being the least appealing.

A: Well, you sound a bit like my brother. I regard myself as a rationalist, but my brother—who’s spent his life teaching ancient philosophy—is a super-rationalist and makes me seem sloppy and barely reasonable, and so part of the book is a friendly fraternal argument with my brother. He says, “I’d hate to have to spend eternity in the presence of saints and martyrs,” and I say, “Well, actually, saints weren’t just pious, boring fellows. They were often at the cutting edge of social change and they had often very interesting deaths, as well. And in medieval times they’re probably some of the most intelligent, sophisticated people on the earth. After all, Dom Pérignon—after whom the champagne is named—was a monk.” I don’t see why you should think that heaven must be infinitely boring.

Q: You write elsewhere that we have replaced our traditional ideas of heaven with a secular, modern heaven of self-ful?llment, where it all comes down to development of the personality and having a high-status job and pursuing material goods, which sounds, relative to what you’ve described, rather grim.

A: I think as modern society has become more secular we sell ourselves a sort of junior version of paradise. We too often need someone else to define what it is that we want, and in the old days religion did that for us, and nowadays it’s multinational corporations trying to sell us stuff, or tone our bodies, or make us forget about death, so I don’t think it’s a substantial improvement.”

Source: Maclean’s Interview: Julian Barnes – Macleans.ca

Personality Profiles

I think that personality profiles like the Myers – Briggs inventory can be very helpful.

They have helped me to understand myself and others better and grow in thoughtfulness.

But they can also be abused.

Please don’t use your personality label as permission to see yourself as a victim, to complain that no one understands you, as an excuse for moral failures, to make this the unattainable standard for what it means to love you, or to blame the world for not treating you as your particular label requires.

Frustrated By The Fringes On the 4th

flag in the clowds

As we prepare to celebrate the 4th of July this year, I have some anxiety about the polarized conversations that are coming, especially on social media. I feel like the last few years have seen two groups shouting at each other on account of this holiday. These groups may have been the fringe in the past, but they seem to be gaining ground. And the message of both sides leave me frustrated.

There are those with an irrational love of America that keeps them from acknowledging her faults, both past and present. These folks are offended by any suggestion that America has blood on her hands or mud on her face.  These folks are often very patriotic, and tend to whitewash history. Many of them confuse Christianity with America. They view any criticism of the U.S. and her history as a stab at all the brave soldiers who defended our country.  It is sometimes hard to take this group seriously, but they should not be ignored, as our last election revealed.

On the other hand there are a growing number with an irrational hatred of America that can only see her faults. They are so focused on fighting the nationalist zeal of the first group that they can only see her failings.  They simmer in the sins of the past (and their effects in the present) to such an extent that it blinds them to her virtues. They don’t see bad groups of people doing bad things contrary to our written values, as happens in every country in history.  They consider the worst elements of our country to be her essence.  This group can’t appreciate that the principles of our republic, while imperfectly applied (an understatement), have at least provided the possibility of excising her cancer. After all, history tells us that without freedom of speech you can’t criticize such a powerful government without bloodshed. Many in this group would like to see America as we know it destroyed and replaced.

I believe there is another position, and I would like to strive to attain to it.  I am probably too idealistic.  It is a position as a Christian where my highest loyalty is NOT to my country. Only Jesus is Lord. I think this allows me to be a true patriot, one that can love my country and yet honestly point out her failings. And one that allows me to condemn her sins precisely because I love the virtues of freedom and equality under the law. I would also like to be one that can see her faults and failures in full color, and yet avoid hating her people and her principles.  We don’t have to choose between ignoring America’s vices and loving her virtues. We don’t have to choose between being proud of our country and ashamed (often at the same time) of the many times she has missed the mark.

I love America, not because she is flawless or even the greatest country ever, but because she is my home. I do love the American experiment of democracy and freedom. I love her with all her faults, but I don’t love her supremely.  I ache for a day when she will shed the rest of her sins and trade them for something better.  I am heartbroken that the dreams of America have been elusive to so many, and I long for better days.

So I offer this for your consideration: The only way to love your country and not be corrupted by that love, is to have a higher and better love.

Happy 4th of July.

Our Problem With Public Apologies

I just had a thought, are there any similarities between Kathy Griffin’s apology for a mock beheading of Trump, and other public apologies from the right side of the isle (just reflect on what happened before the election with Trump and his treatment of women)?
Do we have a problem with public apologies as a culture (maybe as human beings), rather than just partisan problem? Do we have a problem with apologies that are designed more for PR and damage control than honestly accepting responsibility for bad behavior? Do we as Americans have problems blaming others for our transgressions rather than owning them without qualification?
What would it look like to say: I was wrong, there is no excuse for that. No one else is to blame for my choices but me. I am sorry for the damage I have caused and apologize to those I hurt. I am going to do what I can to make amends, and I accept the consequences.
 
This is really, really, hard. But I think anything less hurts everyone involved. When we are more concerned with saving face, than owning the truth we perpetuate the problem.
This is a hot topic, just google the issue of organizations, governments, law enforcement, or doctors apologizing and you will see that we have a big problem.

Discipleship in the “Age of Authenticity” | TGC

 

This is a very important article, in my opinion.

You should read it, maybe twice, if you want to gain some perspective about what is really happening in our culture. It is beyond left and right. And it is likely that you are aware of this as a problem existing in other people rather than yourself.

Personal expression as a moral virtue has become an unquestionable absolute. It is driving the bus. To suggest that it might not be a virtue is blasphemy. It rages against any other idea or obligation- historical, political, biological, familial, or religious. While it promises fulfillment it will leave a trail of broken promises that are an opportunity to speak about a better way.

 

Source: Discipleship in the “Age of Authenticity” | TGC

All Our Good Guys are also Bad Guys: Steve Jobs

Last night my wife and I watched the documentary  Steve Jobs-The Man in the Machine. It is now available on Netflix, and I think it is worth your time.

The film is a depiction of his life that includes his darker side, which was largely lost in the hero worship of the wider culture. It is full of original footage and lots of interviews with people close to him.

This essay reflects on some of the themes in the film. While I don’t agree with all that the author says (who ever does?), the big picture is spot on. All of our good guys are also bad guys. One point that comes across so well is that Steve Jobs was celebrated and promoted even though he was such a bad person. Those around him, and the broader culture was willing to accept so much evil because he gave people what they wanted. When and why we turn a blind eye to evil may be one of the most revealing tests of character there is.

That is a sobering reality.

Here is the conclusion of the essay:

“Jobs did not need to be cruel, but he chose to be; we did not need to reward him with our dollars, but we chose to. Steve Jobs: The Man in the Machine shows us, because we desperately need to be reminded, that all our good guys are bad guys. Lest the viewers judge too harshly, though, the film’s implicit concluding argument is, essentially, that we are allbad guys—not just Steve Jobs, but also Steve Wozniak, Bob Belleville, you, and me—because we tolerate and even admire such outward cruelty. The screen of an iPhone dims after 30 seconds, but, thank God, grace shines the light of forgiveness when we are alone in the darkness we allow and the darkness we create.”

Only in the grace of God do we find the hero and leader that instead of exploiting us, lays down his life for us.

 

Life Lesson on Money

I found this in an old journal entry. An idea that impressed me a while ago and when I read it, I was glad that I written it down. I was encouraged and convicted by my own words:

In financial matters there can be a considerable delay between decisions, actions, and results. Choices made today may not be felt for weeks or months, either for good or bad. Therefore we must think ahead! It is like planting and watering. This is hard to remember when we live in a world obsessed with the instantaneous and the impulsive.