How much are you worth? How much is your company worth? What about your colleagues? I saw a cartoon once depicting an office scene with the boss explaining, ”people are our number one priority”. In the next box he says “actually I’ve just realised, money is our number one priority, people come seventh”. Humour it may be, but many have a sneaking suspicion that talk of human resources, investing in people and intellectual capital is merely a smoke screen for squeezing more out of the workforce to serve the bottom line. If this is the case, and it isn’t always of course, then the result is that people will feel devalued rather than valued.
Some companies don’t even pretend to go the long way round with staff. For them the deal means “we pay and you perform or you’re out”. I was once speaking to a head of Human Resources who took this very line. He actually used the word Darwinian to describe his position. Of course it’s all horrifyingly logical: if we are no more than animals struggling to survive in a dog eat dog work environment, a rat race where only the fittest survive, then why not consign many with the label, ‘downsizee’? The result is that the net value of a human being is equated with money. But with what should we equate the value of a human?
On a mundane level the market value of the raw materials – water, fat, iron, carbon, sulphur, etc. in our bodies amounts to less than £100. Some take the view that value is not about money or materials, it’s about achievement. This is especially obvious when the money situation is adequate and motivated employees value themselves by their achievements. Worth is then self-worth and the currency is success.
Still others will take the view that it is really people who matter after all, relationships – inside and outside the workplace – are the key to happiness and a sense of meaning.
Older, wiser heads tend to the view that it’s obvious That worth is a combination of all of the above.
But there are a couple of flaws here. We all know the phrases ‘naked I came into the world and naked I leave it’, or ‘you can’t take it with you’. Value has to be something that extends beyond our lifetime. The second flaw is that if we use money, achievement or relationships as our primary source of worth, then what happens when they let us down, as they surely will?
I’m going to suggest to you that your true value in the workplace (or anywhere else for that matter) must be primarily measured, not by money, achievement, popularity or status. It’s not that they are irrelevant, just that they must not be primary. Our value comes from who made us and who bought us. You and I are made from dust and breath: dust of the earth and breath of God. Like a Stradivarius violin, it’s our Maker that gives us value. On top of that the Maker has bought us. The currency was his own Son’s life. And because he used this currency we can be sure that he loves us so much that it hurts. Maker, Purchaser, Lover – there is our worth. This is what gives us primary value. Money, status, achievement and friends will add value but the person whose identity is rooted in God carries value in their soul whatever the circumstances. When you’re at work, don’t make the mistake of swapping true value for secondary values, for that would be devaluing yourself.BIBLE SECTION
31What, then, shall we say in response to this? If God is for us, who can be against us? 32He who did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all–how will he not also, along with him, graciously give us all things?
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