As usual on a Wednesday at YWBC, we shared Morning Office earlier today. This was my reflection on one of our readings, from Matthew 20.
Let me tell you again what the kingdom of heaven is like. One day a businessman came up with an idea for a new venture, one which had the potential to revolutionise the sector in which he was competing. He went out looking for people who might be able to help make his dream a reality:
- People with skills and imagination, with the creativity and insight to exploit gaps in the market when they arose.
- People who work hard – people who get out of bed early in the morning, when others are still asleep. People who are willing to put in the hours for the cause, people who pay their taxes and don’t cause a drain on the public finances.
- People who are respectable – the kind of people you and I would want to be the face of our company, the kind of people who would ensure the good reputation of the business.
Over time the business grew – as wealth was created, new opportunities arose. But it’s not always easy to get hold of the sort of staff you need to enable you to sustain growth. The businessman found himself struggling when he looked around for people who might be of use to him. There were graduates who weren’t able to adjust to the demands of a competitive business, there were people lacking the necessary drive and determination, there were people with no employment history, people with no history of standing on their own two feet.
Time went on and the business grew and the owner took the decision to look for even more staff. One day, he walked out of his office and across the road to the pub where men spent the mornings playing pool and the afternoons drinking beer. ‘Why are you sitting here, idle?’ he asked them. ‘Because no one has given us a job,’ came the reply.
So he took them on – the men from the pub across the road, the people on the welfare to work scheme, the immigrants whose presence in the town had become the source of so much tension.
One month later, he got together all of his workforce for a special announcement: every single person in the company, those who had been there from the start, those who had just joined, the finance director, the delivery driver, the head of sales and marketing, the cleaner.
‘Our company is prospering,’ and he said, ‘and to enable us to grow further, I’ve decided that we should float on the London Stock Exchange. This is a marvellous opportunity. And to say thank you to all of you, I’ve decided that you should each have 200 shares in the new PLC.’
The directors of the company were appalled. They pointed at those who had only just signed up to work with them. ‘This is so unfair,’ they said. ‘We have worked hard, grafted, put in the hours, borne the burden of getting this business off the ground. And yet you treat us in the same way as these freeloaders who haven’t been here for five minutes.’
And the reply of the businessman: ‘But you knew the deal. Take your shares and go. I’ve paid you everything I said I would, and if I want others to share in my wealth why is that such a problem for you? Why are you reacting in such an angry way to my generosity?’