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Slaves, Masters, and our Workplace Reputations

by Cowboy Bob Sorensen

Every once in a while, I commence to cognating and sometimes writing about reputations. In my sixty years, I've seen and sometimes experienced how things like trust, respect, honor, and reputations take a mighty long time to build on the positive side but can be destroyed in a hurry.

Our reputations, especially as Christians, can be easily ruined after being built up. We have to continue to do what is right and glorify God.
Joseph, son of Israel, as a powerful ruler in Egypt
Image credit: Free Christian Illustrations
The largest section of Genesis, chapters 37-50, have Joseph the son of Israel (Jacob) who was despised by his brothers and sold into slavery in Egypt. Potiphar was important in Egypt and Joseph impressed him so much that Potiphar put him in a position of power. When Joe turned down the Pot-man's wife for a roll in the hay, she lied about him. Joe's reputation was negated because someone in a respected, noble position lied.

Joseph was thrown in prison but the jailer in chief was so impressed by him that he basically let him have the run of the place. A new reputation was being forged, and it was reinforced when he was explaining the meaning of dreams. Later, Pharaoh himself was troubled, and someone said, "Waitaminnit! I just remembered this guy down in the dungeon who might be useful." Joe explained the dream, and Pharaoh made him exceptionally important in Egypt. He even was able to forgive and bless his brothers who sold him into slavery (Genesis 50:20).

All thought the ups and downs, God was with Joseph, who never lost faith despite the circumstances.

It gets difficult when you're accused of doing something wrong and you're innocent. I've been accused by someone who has earned a reputation for being a liar and insane, so sensible people do not take him seriously. Using a form of the genetic fallacy, I've been lied about by someone with prestige; my word was negated, and my reputation took a slapping down.

Ain't no way that I can compare myself to Joseph. There are times when it's difficult to build a good reputation in a workplace when those in power take a notion to dislike you, but you just have to cowboy up and do your job the best you can with what you have.

Recently, we had a lull in work so we were sent home. I filled out the form to account for the difference in hours. Later, I went to my supervisor and said that I wasn't sure of my math. She told me that I overstated the amount by half an hour and she made the adjustment. Although the system would not let her put in an excessive amount of time for me, she said she knew I wasn't trying to get away with something. Another time, I was talking with her supervisor about using a less-known system tool. He said he can trust me with it, but didn't want everyone doing that thing for certain reasons. Those moments of affirmation felt good. While others are more productive than I am in certain areas, it's good that my reputation with those supervisors is pretty good.

Even so, it seems like there's a kind of entropy with people. Bad reports, rumors, other negative things tend to be more easily believed that the positive. A good reputation can be destroyed quickly, especially if it's clearly your fault. I've had to restrain my urges to run my mouth or take other actions, and I have to pray for patience and wisdom quite often.

Christians must glorify God, and we are to do this in our work. I've heard several sermons on Ephesians 6:5-9, which is about slaves and masters in ancient Rome. While our masters cannot actually buy and sell employees, they can fire us. The principles in this passage apply to Christians in the workforce today. We ultimately work for God and should seek to please him.


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