Joe was a bottom line guy. Only one thing mattered–the end result. He would say, “Here’s the goal. Let’s go. Whatcha waiting for?” And he was always the one who determined how things ought to be. His way or the highway was his secret sauce and he could back it up–he was a successful businessman.
In his town Joe’s Burgers and Fries is a well-known eating establishment. The people love his food and he is rich. What could possibly be wrong with Joe’s formula for success?
On the surface there is nothing wrong, but once you begin to look a little deeper, Joe’s secret sauce is actually putrefying. Joe is a control freak who knows how things ought to be and how to get things done. Mix that with his ability to reason and he cannot be challenged.
And besides, the proof is in the pudding–the bottom line is all the information he needs to support his motives and methods. That being said, there have always been problems in Joe’s business and even deeper problems in his marriage.
In his business he has had a high turnover rate. No employee, except for Alice whose need for money is greater than the frustration of the job, ever stayed with Joe longer than three years.
In his 15-employee operation, he has hired and fired 23 people. There has always been an excuse, none of which would ever stick to Teflon Joe. The truth is it’s not possible for people to bear up under the scrutiny and pressure of his demands.
Joe was outcome oriented. Results mattered, while the processes to get the results took a backseat. He would say, “That’s business” when someone left for another job. Besides there were always folks who wanted to work at Joe’s.
Don’t try this at home
The turnover was high and the morale was low, but Joe keeps churning along, raking in the dough. Interestingly, though he is a “success” on the business front, he is a frustrated and unsuccessful husband and father.
The reason is because he uses the same methods in his home that he implements in business. He has an expected outcome for his wife and children. In his mind, he has a bottom line, how things ought to be if you want to pass muster with Joe. Sadly, his family cannot meet the demands.
His preconceived ideas of who they should be are not being received because they are more forced than nurtured. This confuses Joe because he knows he is right. He wants a loving wife and obedient children.
“What’s wrong with that? This is what God wants.”
It may be what God wants, but God does not force righteousness on anyone. He creates a context of grace and then invites people into His context of grace, while motivating them by grace. The law does not motivate. It discourages and exasperates.
Within God’s framework of grace, we choose righteousness. He does not demand. The process matters to God, not just the results. The Gospel matters to God.
Or do you presume on the riches of his kindness and forbearance and patience, not knowing that God’s kindness is meant to lead you to repentance? – Romans 2:4 (ESV)
I plant. I water. I give the growth.
Our Father could have skipped the Gospel, I suppose, and made us righteous, but that negates and defiles the relationship. That’s also robotic, not human. Of course, Joe can treat his employees like robots while accomplishing his goals though there will be turnover and frustration.
But the children can’t “quit” the family because they are young and the wife is not willing to “quit” (divorce) the marriage–at least not at this time. Joe and the family are between a rock and a hard place.
He wants them to be a certain way. They are resistant to what he wants and he can’t legislate his interpretation of how things ought to be. The tension in the home will ebb and flow between tense peace and combustible anger. It has yet to occur to Joe the outcome was never meant to be his to determine.
I planted, Apollos watered, but God gave the growth. – 1 Corinthians 3:6 (ESV)
God has not called us to determine outcomes, but to trust Him for how things will turn out. What God has called us to is to faithfully and gratefully work the process, while leaving the outcome to Him. Not Joe. He wants to plant, water, and control the growth. James called this arrogance.
Come now, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go into such and such a town and spend a year there and trade and make a profit”— yet you do not know what tomorrow will bring. … Instead you ought to say, “If the Lord wills, we will live and do this or that.” As it is, you boast in your arrogance. All such boasting is evil. – James 4:13-16 (ESV)
A man who tries to control the process and the outcome does not need God because he is god. There is no room in Joe’s world for God because he has it all under control.
I planted, I watered, and I gave the increase. - The Gospel According to Joe
Granted, he is not a good god because some of his employees are angry with him, his wife is angry at him, and his children are accumulating resentment, that will turn into full-teen rebellion when they garner the courage to manifest their true thoughts.
I know how things ought to be
This is what happens in almost every marriage or family debacle. At least one person in the family–usually a parent, believes he/she knows how things ought to be. Based on what they believe to be right, they try to mandate or legislate the outcome. This inevitably leads to disaster.
Joe could get away with his tactics and strategies at work because his employees would either buck-up and do things his way or they could leave. Many chose to leave. His “like it or lump it” mentality worked in the workplace, but would hardly fly in the home.
There are many problems to Joe’s way of interacting with people. The biggest of which, as I have mentioned, is his Godless “my way or the highway” world view.
The problem with Joe’s thinking is not that his ideas are bad. He wants a God-loving, husband-following wife. That’s biblical. He wants God-loving and parent-obeying children. That’s biblical too.
I want these things. The issue is not so much his desires, but how he goes about making sure these things happen. He runs roughshod over people, without considering the people he is handling.
The result is relational dysfunction and alienation. His family is dysfunctional and he alienates himself from people who could be his friends. Joe has bought into his culture’s view of success–win, while imitating their style of acquiring success–at all costs.
Where he gets tangled up is how he couches his good and spiritual desires for his family as being right, while lacing them with his self-serving agenda. He then implements worldly strategies in order to get what he wants.
His over-spiritualizations obscures the sin involved. It creates a blind spot he truly can’t see. Joe has three options: (1) Hire robots; (2) Change how he treats people; (3) Continue to live in work and familial dysfunction, while alienating himself from other relationships.
Robot for hire
For further reading
- Does your behavior push your husband toward other people or things?
- Does your husband know you are for him?
- Going over your husband’s head in order to help him
- How a wife can lead her husband
- Practical thoughts on leading your husband from behind