Are Christians Poor Employee Choices?

Before you jump to conclusions, or defenses, I want to discuss a little something from the sermon this last Sunday.

The preacher is, and has been a person in the regular workforce, as differentiated by those ministers who have not worked in the job force for a long time. He has had experience hiring and firing, and was noting some things about how “religious people” are perceived, particularly as employees. I was sort of surprised because I presumed that most Christians make excellent workers.

Some of the points in how Christians are perceived are:

  1. they are not committed to the job, through stated commitment to God and family, instead
  2. they are resistant to learning
  3. they are lazy

And because of some of this, there is a bias against hiring Christians due to expected poor outcomes as employees.

There were some other points, but I will have to clarify them before writing them out here. this was an insert in the main theme of the sermon which was on facing our fearfulness and how fear opposes our growth in Christ. But I just lifted this portion out because it surprised me and when I thought about it, I could see how it relates to some of the other conversations concerning Christians – both as perceived and actual- living far short of the expected levels of virtue.

There is some of the view that can be attributed to unrealistic expectations of others, but given the context of the statements… the real life experience of someone who saw the whole process of hiring and giving chances to those who were labeled poor choices because of being “religious”, I had to give it some second thought.

Have we so lost many of the admonitions of the gospel that would make us virtuous that we are now holding just tatters of the form of godliness…. and considered lazy liabilities on the job?

3 thoughts on “Are Christians Poor Employee Choices?”

  1. Interesting… In the south where so many of the people at least attend church it’s hard to say who’s “Christian” and who’s not – at least in any way meaningful enough to do this kind of analysis.

    I think that I do well at my job but at times I’m not seen as “commited” as others. That’s because I’m not as interested in climbing the corporate ladder as some of my colleagues are. In many cases, climbing the ladder means more hours at work, more travel, etc. I’d much rather do a good job at what I’m doing and have more time with my family.

  2. I have no idea what that preacher had in mind or what his background is, but from the little you revealed he was waaay off base. There’s an old saying about comforting the afflicted and afflicting the comfortable….maybe he was into the latter. I dunno.

    I have spent my entire adult life managing people, thousands of them, in the food business. They ranged from the working poor to assistant managers at $30K-plus. My associate managers earned upwards of $50K. That covers a lot of territory. And I can tell you that faith was and always will be central to good character. That means all kinds of faith, not only Christian. No one wants to have an employee handling money or valuable inventory who is of bad character. It’s too risky and is just not good business.

    An extreme illustration of the point is Chick-fil-A, Truett Cathy’s company. Mr. Cathy and his sons still run the company privately and it is an article of faith as well as business with them that no Chick-fil-A store will be open for business on Sunday. The language is written into some of the biggest shopping center leases in the country that the Chick-fil-A in the food court will have the gate pulled down on Sunday. I have heard rumors about ambitious local operators who thought they could improve the revenue stream by opening anyway and found out that doing so was grounds for dismissal.

    So what does that mean from a business standpoint?

    First of all it means that they can hire Christians easier than anyone else because they are able to work the schedules when they are not in church. As a cafeteria manager I can’t count the number of splendid applicants I passed over when I asked “Are you available to work Saturday and Sunday?” The answer often came back “Saturday, yes, but we go to church on Sunday.”
    Sorry. Wrong answer. If I let one person off for Sunday, then I have to do the same for others, so letting a new employee have that privilege torpedos the work schedule.

    Second, with Christians on staff, the quality and appearance of everyone jumps a competetive notch. They’re used to dressing well, acting nice and treating others politely…all very good qualities to have dealing with the public. I have no way to prove it, but I also think they smile more and mean it. Even if it’s fake, the smile is done better from practice.

    But here’s the kicker: Chick-fil-A seems to be more profitable in six days than the rest of the industry is in seven. They build stores out of bricks when everyone else is using stucko or some cheaper material. They have real potted plants. The advertising is top-drawer. And the image is so clean they squeek when they walk. And in this part of the country, they have the faithful loyalty of…guess who? Right. This is the buckle of the Bible belt.

    I say your preacher is trying to pull something.

    (On the other hand, I have fed a lot of Christians after church and I can report that as customers they seem a bit prickly and are not famous for being good tippers, maybe because some preacher already stepped on their toes and got money out of them already by feeding them a guilt trip.)

  3. Brian, as you point out, I do think a Christian workers priorities are going to be in a different order than what is typically considered the recipe for success. OTH, a person with a more stable marriage and family life will- long term- be a better worker: less emotional drama to sap energies.

    This is all generally speaking, but that is what a pattern of behavior hinges on.

    Hoots, friend, the preacher wasn’t trying to just make a point or pull anything, he was discussing what he found to be a bias in the employers in his area, which is in housing and construction. Food business is strongly service oriented with people skills ( as you described), but construction and housing requires more physical output, etc. and attention to schedules . Although all businesses need employees with good work ethic,etc. What he was saying he found is that sometimes more than not the “outsiders” perception of Christians was not as far off as might be supposed. He did qualify it by saying how many outstanding workers he had hired that were “more religious”.

    What I mention here is that I was surprised that enough support of the bias was in order to be noted. And the example you mention seems to be owners and companies… not the common worker in those companies. It isn’t so hard to be motivated to do well when you have a financial stake.

    I don’t know exactly what to conclude, just putting it out there that perhaps we are operating under a myth: telling ourselves that our beliefs make us better employees without the “proof in the pudding”.

    I think some of what might be a problem is the “perceptions” of commitment that is extant in our working society, the actual gap between diligent work habits that are intellectually assented to without practically carried out, the lack of “teachability” that Christians sometimes meet circumstances or fellow workers with (perhaps a lack of respect for those who aren’t professing Christians).

    On tipping- I know that is true of most Christians- they are often stingy tippers. Because some of my relatives worked in waitressing, and other service types of jobs, at times, I personally am aware and attempt to always tip decently, and sometimes generously. Many times the tips are the real wage.

    Your point is well taken, I admit; and I know the preacher, and certainly me, too, would agree to all you’ve said. I just think there is probably a portion to which we turn a blind eye, and if we consider that, maybe it would help us as a group to improve in all the ways we cut corners in our habits of virtue.

    I did have a little problem with this comment though:”Even if it’s fake, the smile is done better from practice”. Might you have meant “even if done from politeness”? If you are being polite when you smile, it isn’t really ‘fake’, but done more for the sake of the other person rather than your own feeling.

    I appreciate your input, and in fairness to the sermon- I think I will talk a little further on the topic with the preacher- get a better insight into the viewpoint. Then I can discuss it more cogently.

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