The Next Faithful Step

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The Next Step for Michael Win

Michael Win is an elder at his church, although elder may be a bit misleading when it describes a thirty-five year old. Michael is the store manager at a big chain drug store. He started working for the company when he was nineteen. He began by sweeping floors and working the check stand. He worked his way up to department manager, and then assistant store manager, before he given his own store to manage.

At one time, Michael felt that he was doing just what God called him to do. He could see that the work that he did really helped people, especially the elderly people who came in from the retirement community next door. And he believed that he was also helping his employees as he taught them necessary life skills like how to look for work to do even when no one was watching and how to be kind to a customer who was being difficult. In other words, Michael believed that he could not only embody compassion and integrity in the way that he treated his customers, but that he also could teach those values as he managed his employees. But things changed.

The character of the company that owns the store changed and the requirements of Michael’s job changed with it. The company eliminated a layer of management so that there were no more department managers, which meant that Michael had a lot more duties—and had to field a lot more phone calls at odd hours from frustrated and confused employees.   And the company cut back on hours for most employees so that they were no longer full-time.  Along the way, the company also eliminated benefits for those employees who remained.   Michael found it hard to represent a company that he believed showed neither compassion nor integrity.

Michael also found that the work began to interfere with other parts of his life. He was often late to Sunday church services or would miss an evening meeting because he had to be in the store. His gained weight; his blood pressure crept higher; he was irritable at home. The changes even affected his relationships with his employees. “I no longer have the time to invest in people,” he reported. Ultimately, he summed up the new situation by saying, “I don’t like my work life anymore and no longer think I’m doing what God wants me to do.”

Throughout this process, Michael and his wife prayed. They entertained radical ideas. Should I quit my job? Should we pack up and move someplace where we can start fresh? At that point, they approached their pastor after the annual church picnic. Most people had already left. Michael and his wife told their pastor his story and waited to see what the pastor would say.