The Best Christian Workplace in America
June 11, 2020
by Steve Cartin, MDiv
“Let him who stole steal no longer, but rather let him labor, working with his hands what is good, that he may have something to give him who has need” (Ephesians 4:28, NKJV).
The recent COVID-19 crisis and shutdown in dentistry brought much to light for many of us which had previously been in the shadows. For me, it afforded the opportunity to see put into practice a principle I have coached and recommended for 14 years. One husband-wife team provided a lens for me through the fog of all that has been going on. Sometimes when you desire to be a blessing to others, the blessing ricochets back into your own heart.
It was late March, about two weeks into the dental shutdown in this particular state. Most of our clients around the country, as well as in this state, had already furloughed their teams. Some were rotating team members in and out, as I suspected was the present case when I showed up on a “slow day” to do some front desk insurance training. To my surprise, not only was the entire team of 14 present and accounted for, but none of them had been furloughed, nor were there any plans for as much as even reduced hours. When I spoke to the doctors in private at a mid-morning break, this is how the conversation went:
ME: “Dental practices everywhere have shut down except for the occasional emergency. Team members have been furloughed. How do you afford to keep a full house?”
THEY: “God has blessed us through the years to not only meet our own needs but to put away funds for a rainy day. If this thing lasts another month, we should be able to keep all our people gainfully employed.”
ME: “Have you applied for the $10,000 EIDL (Economic Injury Disaster Loan)?”
THEY: “It just doesn’t seem right for us to do so. Why would we do that and take that money out of the pot for someone who needs it? God has made provision for us to ride out the storm.”
Experts differ on the amount, but they all agree a practice needs to have something set aside for difficult times—a capital reserve for when that chair goes on the fritz or a rainy day fund when hurricanes ravage the surrounding countryside. No one saw this one coming. Yet, the reserve fund these doctors had built up was not only available but was not diverted instead into their own personal needs. Although my recommendation has always been 25 percent of annual collections in ready reserve, I can’t take credit for the faithfulness and prudence these doctors demonstrated. This was their commitment long before they met me in 2016 to work through the Lead Like Jesus ®2 training and the application process for earning the Best Christian Workplace award. It shouldn’t come as a surprise they were awarded that designation first time around, something that happens only infrequently.
As I drove back home that day, I couldn’t help but think of Paul’s admonishment in Ephesians 4:28 concerning the matter of earning a living.
Honest work. Paul contrasts the all-to-often situation of those who steal. Stealing comes in many forms—lifting an item secretly from a grocery store shelf or holding on to a claim for a bitewing x-ray for several days or a week after submitting the panoramic x-ray so the insurance company doesn’t downgrade the combination to a full mouth series. Paul encourages shop owners, day laborers and entrepreneurs to earn their living HONESTLY through good old-fashioned honest work, even if sometimes it is hard work. The honest, hard work these doctors had put in for several decades resulted in a 401K for retirement AND a rainy-day fund for COVID-19. But it didn’t just happen. It took discipline, discipline to save it in the first place and discipline to direct it appropriately when the time came.
Paying it forward. Can we agree that the admonition for those who once stole is no different than it is for those of us who have not manifested the klepto gene? Thieves are not a select group whom God encourages to honest work. They are not the unique few who are called upon to be charitable with their resources. Paul’s words to them are a special instruction simply because it is the expected way of life for those who walk in God’s redemptive grace and blessing. God never tells us to only be concerned with what we have as though we were the center around which all else revolved. The overflowing gratitude of the redeemed life compels us to work for ourselves and for those around us in need. Before one can pay it forward, one must first earn the means by which to pay it. The concept of “I want enough to get by” is inconsistent with Paul’s letter to the Ephesians.
Fast forward to today when I sat with these doctors again for three hours, working on a long-term strategy to structure their practice for transition. Their concern? How do we do this in such a way that the patients we have loved and the team we have built will be honored according to the values we clarified coming out of the Leadership Encounter? And how can we do it so that the ministries we have supported can continue to count on us as they have in the past?
So it goes with a dental practice which is experienced by patients, team members and even vendors and coaches as a Best Christian Workplace in America.
Best Christian Workplace is a recognition awarded by The Best Christian Workplace Institute, 9311 SE 36th Street, Suite 202, Mercer Island, WA 98040.
Lead Like Jesus and The Leadership Encounter are trademark branding of The Center for Faithwalk Leadership, 198 White Star Point, Spartanburg, SC 29301