Just Doing My Job!

Henry David Thoreau once said: “A man had better starve at once than lose his innocence in the process of getting his bread.”

Just doing a job cannot justify doing something unethical, immoral, or dishonest. The guards in the German concentration camps, after becoming friends with the prisoners, would often justify walking them to the gas chambers with, “I’m just doing my job.”

I know we have all been inundated with the messy details of the unraveling of Wall Street so I won’t bore you with more of the same. However, hopefully we will learn the lessons from this blatant example of what’s wrong with the common corporate mentality. Greed, deceit, and a “culture of corporate corruption” can never be justified.

Unfortunately, this is just one more historical example of moral meltdown. When people at the top justify one little breach of integrity and then compound it with another to cover the first, there is no limit to what can be encouraged. Adolf Hitler, Jim Jones and many others have served as models for leading “normal” individuals to lose all ethical perspective for the good of the cause. And the end result seems to be very predictable — devastation to thousands of innocent people.

Thomas Stanley, in his landmark book, “The Millionaire Mind,” lists the top five factors most often displayed by millionaires in explaining their economic success: (1) Integrity – being honest with all people, (2) Discipline – applying self control, (3) Social Skills – getting along with people, (4) A Supportive Spouse, and (5) Hard Work. Notice the number one characteristic – Integrity. Without that, any “success” is likely to be short-lived.

What is it that you are justifying doing just because it’s part of your job? Just because you have the ability to do something well is not enough reason to continue doing it – if it violates your values and common sense.  If in the completion of your job or business, someone else is ultimately made poorer or taken advantage of, you are in great danger.  (Prov 22:22-23)  Stop immediately, no matter what it takes.

If your work doesn’t express your true values, you’re setting yourself up for deceit in other areas of your life. And for the invasion of ulcers, migraines, cancers as evidence of a less than authentic life. In the movie Cool Hand Luke, a guard says, “I’m just doing my job. You gotta appreciate that.” And Paul Newman responds: “Nah, Calling it your job don’t make it right, boss.” I agree.

(Incidentally, we all had to say goodbye to Paul Newman this week.  He appeared to be an actor with unusual integrity in real life as well.)

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22 Responses to “Just Doing My Job!”

  1. Naftal Says:

    This is a good admonition. Sorry I cant say more than this. I pray that I live it

  2. Darrell McCain Says:

    Thank you for this, it is a great reminder that God expects us to do this and fight the good fight with integrity.
    I agree Paul Newman was one of the few great actors that lived a life of integrity and giving.

  3. Linda Fairchild Says:

    I really have to say something to you, Dan. I’ve been reading your newsletter for several years. I’ve asked for help once and was turned down because your coach determined that I couldn’t afford to pay him. It really irks me that you continue to write your newsletter with little attention to what’s going on in the world today. You always say that many people miss things that are right in front of them. Right now, you are missing the boat in the worst possible way. There is nothing wrong with telling people to reach for their dreams, however, many people will never reach dreams they had as children because of various reasons, such as lack of money, talent, training, or time. Sometimes dreams are just plain lost over time and you have to come up with some new dreams. Right now many people are losing their dreams: dreams of home ownership, dreams of moving up the ladder because they’ve lost their jobs, or dreams of a retirement without worry. These people have to face the reality that their future may be different than what they had dreamed of. Hope is never lost, but I feel that you need to temper your newsletters with a touch of reality. These are trying times and a lot of people are really hurting right now. Maybe you’ve forgotten what it’s like to make choices such as whether you want to eat or pay the electric bill. Having a background in ministry, I would think that you would consider that your audience could be in worse shape than you seem to know. I am challenging you to reach down into your past and remember what it’s like to struggle every day. Then try to minister to those people and still give them hope to achieve their dreams. As one of my favorite songwriter’s (Jewel) said, “We are never broken”.

  4. Stephanie Says:

    Thank you for this post, Dan. In January I was laid off from a job I absolutely loved. A job where the value of integrity was very important. God allowed me to get a immediately after the layoff, but this company didn’t share my same values. And God called me to do difficult things as a result.

    There was much deception within the company and it made me sick to my stomach each day to go to work. In the beginning of June I resigned from the company. I was only there about 4 months. That was long enough to get in to be able to see the deception.

    I have to be honest, this has been hard. I’ve only worked one month since I resigned doing contract work. Do I regret leaving? No. I know if I would have stayed I would still feel sick to my stomach everyday and most likely have had to join in their games. I do want so badly to have a job though. Once you do have that dream job and a place where you feel like you’re doing what you were made to do, it’s hard to live on the other side of that. It’s hard to not expect that you’ll be able to find that everywhere. I haven’t found it yet, but God willing I will get to work again soon.

    Would love anyone who reads this prayers in that regard.

    All the best!

  5. Ann Musico Says:

    Your message truly resonates in me. I wholeheartedly agree that integrity is number one. As a Christian this is paramount to me. I go out each day believing that I represent Jesus to everyone I meet – whether they know Him or not! As a Biblical Health Coach my goal is to help people live lives of wholeness. You can’t cheat or cut corners and then sleep soundly or have true vitality. We are spirit, soul and body and you can’t sacrifice one and expect the other two to remain sound. But it all begins with spirit.

  6. Michelle Says:

    I just wanted to send you a note of thanks for this encouraging word.

    When I recently found out about something that my boss did that seemed to be unethical, I questioned him about it. He tried to justify his actions by sounding like he was doing something to help someone else. I went to his boss about it because I was so troubled. I was shocked when he expressed that the transaction seemed good to him since it helped someone else. When I tried to follow up for the paperwork regarding the transaction, my boss made excuses, offered reasons for the delay etc. It was then that I realized that the transaction was probably not only unethical but also illegal. I made it clear that I would not lie, steal, or cheat for any job. Within a few weeks I was told that my position was being eliminated so I am currently unemployed.

    I count it all joy because I stood up for righteousness in spite of the cost. It would have been more costly to stay silent. Reading your article today reminded me that there is always a purpose for what we go through. I know that God will turn this around for my good in some way.

  7. Liza's Eyeview Says:

    I still am trying to get my Spouse’s support (for doing a “work at home” thing instead of working fulltime outside home. Maybe if I get it I’d be a millionare :)

  8. Jay Peroni Says:

    Dan, as someone who has worked for a Wall Street firm for the last decade, I can attest to the greed that is present. There are many great people in the industry, but many who place profits above principles. I see this not only with Wall Street Firms but Main Street individuals. That was what drove me to write The Faith-Based Millionaire.

    People make deliberate choices in their lives each and every day. Such choices include, but are not limited to: where you work, where you spend yourr income, what charities and ministries you support, and where you invest your savings.

    Think about this
    Work: Would you work at an abortion clinic?
    Spending: Would you spend money on pornography?
    Giving: Would you donate money to homosexual lobbyists or fund embryonic stem cell research?

    If you answered no to ANY of these questions, do you know where you are investing? Many people hold strong values yet neglect to consider where they are investing. Investing caries a great moral resposnibility. Are you doing your part?

    Jay Peroni, CFP
    Author of The Faith-Based Millionaire
    http://www.jayperoni.com

  9. TeeJay Says:

    Dan,

    I prayed for deliverance from a place “like that” (worse actually) almost 8 years ago. During that time I had been given a vision of what could be and should be in my life. Following the vision all these years has transformed what once compromised my beliefs into a blossoming family business that will use our talents and creativity to glorify God. Through your podcasts and articles, I have personally applied your wisdom to the company we are starting and have made valuable contacts through the comments here that will help us become more successful than we ever imagined so we can help more people. Thank you for being a part of our transformation.

  10. Linda Fairchild Says:

    I cannot believe that everyone who seems to post to this site believes that God is responsible for their lot in life. Paul Newman believed that his fate was luck. He did not attribute it to God’s blessings. If God blessed everyone, then why are so many people suffering. Why does the person who escaped a catastrophic hurricane thank God when the person across the street did not escape unscathed. Shouldn’t God have saved that person. I believe in God, but I also believe in reality and the luck of draw. I don’t praise God for every good thing that happens just like I don’t curse him for every bad thing that happens. Things just happen and you have to take responsibility for your own life. And yes I do think God understands. He created this situation.

  11. therealmotherlode Says:

    Linda- I’m a regular “Dan” reader and have never gotten the impression from Dan or his most ardent supporters that he or they believe that God is responsible for their lot in life. Certainly, there IS credit given to God but that’s not the whole picture.

    More than anything, I hear Dan’s message as one of empowerment. Look within, reconnect and rediscover the passions that are within you and then WORK. And work pretty doggone hard! (I love Stanley’s observations that Dan lists.) Trust God—Work hard. That’s what I hear.

    We live in a tough world were rotten things happen to wonderful people. And I must agree with you…”things just happen.” But I part ways with you on “God created the situation.”

    All too often, the difficult circumstances we find ourselves in today are a result of yesterday’s bad decisions. Failure to learn from our mistakes is the biggest tragedy of all.

    In these difficult times, people will have to chose how they deal with this. Cry out to the government to save us (like they have a good track record-ha) or realize they’ve made less than smart decisions and begin to clean up their messes.

    As one who spent years climbing out of debt and more than my share of lumps in life (who hasn’t) I am grateful for Dan’s optimistic voice calling out that “It can be done!”

    I wish you the best, Linda.

    And Paul—the world will miss those blue eyes and your many acts of kindness.

  12. Archie Says:

    For a person to by happy in a role their values have to mirror the values of a company. So a person who is honest and holds good moral principles high will not be content in a company that does not share those ideals.

    It’s one of the deeper reasons that people are often unhappy in their roles and it is important to recognise those feels when they occur. Good advice from Dan which of course needs to be adapted depending on your personal circumstance.

    Linda I’m a new chap here but it seems that Dan is trying to help by presenting things as they should be. Clearly the ideal is not always what you have to work with.

    I’d be happy to hear from you and offer some coaching advice over the phone or internet, for free, and you can reach me at my blog http://www.edenchanges.wordpress.com where I am probably as equally as unrealistic and positive as Dan!

  13. Damon Says:

    Since when does God require our approval? I hear people say “things happen” right after they say “I believe in God.” It’s like saying “I hate abortion, but I’m sure glad it’s legal.”

    Perhaps we’re not talking about the same God. I don’t understand why God allows much of what happens, e.g. abortions, hurricanes, birthday parties, beach retreats, or good times and bad. He’s in charge of it all whether we like it or not. Do I understand it? No. Then again, God doesn’t require my approval.

  14. Rick Says:

    Dan,
    I am totally new here and would like to say that I enjoyed your message and believed it. As a Christian I do understand what it is to try to be true to your faith and it is a daily battle of making the right choices. I loved your message and would endorse it immediately to anyone. I especially loved this line:

    “If in the completion of your job or business, someone else is ultimately made poorer or taken advantage of, you are in great danger. (Prov 22:22-23) Stop immediately, no matter what it takes”.

    I will endeavor to apply it. Thanks Dan! Rick :)

  15. Antonio Says:

    God Bless You.

    I was working as a Special Events Manager at in a World Wide Brewery when I accepted Jesus in my life. Since day #1 as a Christian, I knew my job was an issue… So I quit. I went to work for another company and I lost 40% of my salary when I switched. After a little while, this company goes through a re-structuration and they fire me. I was without a job for one whole year. It was not easy… Believe me it was not.

    I did it for the Love of Jesus, to honor Him. I lost executive position and status, I lost a lot of benefits, I lost all my savings… I am not making what I was making at that company, but I have seen God’s care in the process.

    I don’t regret it. I look back and I know God is in control. The peace I have in my heart is more valuable than all material things I lost.

    Thanks for your message. It confirms to me I did what was right. I call you Blessed!

    Antonio.

  16. Steve Place Says:

    Remember the words of Mark Twain, “The best thing about telling the truth is, you don’t have to remember what you said.” Ever tell a “fib” and not be able to remember how that version went? Very imbarressing.
    steve p.

  17. Sunday Says:

    This message will help us to walk in integrity all the time no matter the pressure to compromise

  18. Joshua P. Mac Says:

    Excellent point. But what about us who are trying to change things where we are? I want to change the practices of the company that I work for. I’m a dedicated worker, not completely dedicated to them, but dedicated in that I put 100% and more into my work. I’m expecting change and I want to help it come about. I see the issues, the problems. What can I do to see this through?

  19. 48days Says:

    So many great comments here. Our challenge is to maintain personal integrity — no matter what. There are plenty of opportunities within businesses to make a difference. We don’t have to sabotage the company to do what’s right in our area. If you see an area that could use improvement, take the initiative even if that is not your focus of responsibility.

    Inspired by Socrates, Shakespeare wrote:

    “This above all:
    To thine own self be true,
    for it must follow as dost the night the day,
    that canst not then be false to any man.”

  20. Y.D. Says:

    I just got laid off from a Company, and I thank God for it, as your statement said; I did not feel I could express my true values. When I saw injustice towards others taking place, and I spoke up, I was quickly told, I must put the company first, no matter what(even at the expense of people, I thought companies were made up of people)? This always made me uncomfortable. I have always felt that it should always be God first, then family, and work last!!! Also in your statement about it affecting our health, you are absolutely right!! I developed a back problem, skin cancer, and I was having heart palpatations. Interesting the back problem has gotten better, and the skin cancer has been removed. The stress I endured, because I could not express my true values, was more that I could Handle. I thank God everyday that I am no longer there. God knows my heart, and will take care of my needs!!

  21. Rob Says:

    Realizing, that between working in the world and having a job in the christian industry. Both are places where one can minister. I know there are times that the Lord exclusively chooses us to be out of the world and in christian ministry. Is there anyone who believes, that in this now hour. The Lord is hand plucking them out of their secular job and into the christian arena to affect the secular culture? Because I truly believe that the Lord is moving in that direction for alot of folks. Hence that is where we sholud read 48 days to the work you lovve.

  22. gorgeous land Says:

    gorgeous land…

    [...]Just Doing My Job! « Dan Miller’s Blog[...]…

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