August 31, 2015
Tomorrow is a game-change day. Give me a break…
Cheri and I have six amazing grandchildren; they range from 17 to 5 in age. Jackson was first; I was 45 when he was born (my dad was 45 when I came along). I have season tickets – on the front row – to the major events of his life. Tomorrow is a biggie: he starts his senior year in high school… and, he starts his first “real” job. I’ll let you look over my shoulder as I offer my patriarchal advice to him, on his way to his first day in the trenches, at work; I’ll write to you next week, on Labor Day.
- Dear Jackson,
You’ve heard me say it all along the way: I’m proud of you, again. You’ve worked hard during your first three years in high school to get your college prep courses finished, and now you’ve got room for work experience each day for class credit. Good job, pal. You pursued the internship this summer at the county courthouse – with no paycheck – and learned a lot about what it takes to show up and take orders in a place where you had nothing to gain but experience. Your character was refined.
Your parents – and, your grandparents – know lots of people; you could have leaned on us to find you a job… but you took the initiative to chase opportunities down yourself. You were smart to apply at Chick-fil-A – since the owner knows your parents – but you went through the process on your own, and landed a spot. Big lesson: most of the best moves you’ll make in your career life will probably involve personal relationships, rather than cold-calls where you’re just a résumé in a stack.
Here are four commandments that will put you in the top 10% of your competition: 1) show up on time; 2) say “please” and “thank you;” 3) do what you said you would do; and, 4) finish what you start (stolen from the Strategic Coach Program). You’ve already learned to look grown-ups in the eye when you meet them – and, when you talk to them – and to shake their hand with a firm grip. Keep that up; most of your generation are looking at their smart phone instead of into an adult’s eyes.
The training at Chick-fil-A is great: they’re telling you to smile at people, and respond to every request with “it’s my pleasure.” That attitude – in that company – will imprint you for the future. Among working adults in America, 50% have worked in a restaurant at least once, and 25% had their first job in a restaurant, so you’re in good company.
In the next 30 years, you’ll have lots of jobs; the average American has 12 different jobs between 18-48. Learn from each of them, and as you leave each of them, make sure that there are people who are sorry to see you go. Nothing in your life will be permanent except your faith, your family, and the wife you’ll someday marry; live with your eye open to future opportunity.
The workplace has always been an important place for Christians to make their faith attractive. Paul wrote with that in mind: “Servants, do what you’re told by your earthly masters. And don’t just do the minimum that will get you by. Do your best. Work from the heart for your real Master, for God, confident that you’ll get paid in full when you come into your inheritance. Keep in mind always that the ultimate Master you’re serving is Christ. The sullen servant who does shoddy work will be held responsible. Being a follower of Jesus doesn’t cover up bad work.” (Colossians 3:22-25, in The Message). Follow his direction, and you’ll more than meet the expectations at work.
I’ve been giving Christians input about their work life for the last 40 years or so, and I’m ready to do that with you as well. Your teachers – at Foothill High School now; at Biola next year – will give you great instruction; a mentor will give you great advice. I’ll volunteer for that role, if you’ll have me…
Again, I’m proud of you already – and it only grows as you grow! Love you, buddy,