Owners Can’t Afford to Keep Their Distance

Blog / Produced by The High Calling
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"That's not my job!" I said indignantly.

The office manager had suggested I work in the clinic for a day as a Medical Office Assistant at our family business. One of her coworkers had been bold enough to question how I, as the owner of the medical clinic, could be making financial decisions concerning wage rates, if I did not really understand the value of the job I was pricing.

My initial reaction was predictable given the mindset that CEOs ought to remain above the fray so they can be "objective" about jobs in the business. Really though, it was a pride issue. I thought the job was beneath my ability.

As soon as I said those words to the office manager, I felt a conviction that her coworker was right and I was wrong. If I was to be a servant leader in the business, modeling the character of Christ, I had a duty to listen and respond.

Working in a medical office can be a very difficult job. There is an organizational culture in medicine that values people for what they produce. A doctor's value is high. The staff's value is not. Doctors can be arrogant with staff, and staff struggle with feelings that business owners do not value who they are or what they do.

So the office manager wanted me to be a staff person for a day to get a feel of what the staff do and how important their job is to the business.

Why not?

When the day arrived, it did not start well. I arrived three hours late for my shift! There was a slight communication problem on my part as to when I was supposed to be there. Of course, all the staff were saying. "Looks like he has chickened out!" I did arrive, and I spent six hours working as a Medical Office Assistant.

I made a lot of mistakes. One poor patient was left sitting in the waiting room for an hour because I had forgotten to register him and get out his chart!

It was a humbling experience for me. I felt weak because I did not know what I was doing. I felt rushed by all the demands of the patients and phone calls and faxes. I felt intimidated by the responsibility we had to care for people's medical concerns. I felt exactly what a rookie MOA feels on their first day!

The next day, I got a call from the office manager, and she had a very good report from the staff about my time there. Everyone was so impressed by the fact that I actually showed up for work and was willing to be a rookie MOA for a day, they didn't mind that I had done a poor job registering patients. They even sent me a card to say thank you. One lady's comment in the card spoke volumes. She wrote, "We're all so glad you were willing to work with us and see our world first-hand."

That is exactly what Jesus came to do! He came to experience our world and our work first-hand. Christ modeled servant leadership in his incarnation. So too we are called to incarnate His presence into our world as servant leaders. In John 20:21 Jesus says to his disciples, "As the Father sent me, even so, I send you!" Christians at work are sent into the world to be for the world what Jesus was for his world, the visible presence of a loving God who cares for his world and those who live in it. That is what it means to be a servant leader at work.