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Summary: Our work is different when we are supervised than when we are not, but our character and commitment are measured thereby. We can be Matthias, who accepted an assignment he did not seek, with joy; or Joseph Justus, who failed to get that same assignment,

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When you can see your supervisor, you work. When you

cannot see him, your work style is likely to slow down. The

difference between those two things is the measure of your

character and your commitment.

When you can see your supervisor, you work diligently. You

work hard; you get the job done. You want to look good in

his eyes, and besides, if you do not do your work well, you

will be reprimanded. When you can see your supervisor,

and he is looking over your shoulder, your work style is

focused and diligent.

But let that supervisor go out of sight, and it things will

change. Once you know the boss is not watching, your work

style will become more relaxed, less focused. When you

know that the one who supervises you is out of sight, you

back off. The difference is the measure of your character

and your commitment.

What happens in a classroom when the teacher leaves?

Chaos! What happens in the office when the boss steps

away from the shop? Party time! We are different when the

supervisor is out of sight.

Some parents know that and have taken to installing video

cameras in their teenagers’ rooms. Balcony dwellers, for a

small fee I’ll tell your parents how bad an idea that is! We

are different when we are being watched than when we are

not being watched. But the difference is the measure of our

character and our commitment.

When I was a boy it was my job to mow the lawn. We lived

in a corner house, with a pretty good-sized lawn. It seemed

like there was a mile of sidewalks to trim. I did pretty well

with pushing the mower, but when it came to hand-clipping a

mile of sidewalks, I balked. I didn’t like to do that. The only

things that kept me going were that my father expected it,

and that when it was finished there would be a nice reward in

the form of a fifty-cent coin. Now I know that to today’s

generation, fifty cents for mowing a whole lawn doesn’t

sound like much. In the 1950’s, however, it wasn’t bad; and

there was something about the heft of the old fifty-cent coin,

which we don’t see much now, that really made it seem like a

great reward. Knowing that I would get that coin and that my

father expected this job to be done was enough to get me

started. But not necessarily enough to keep up me moving

to finish the whole thing – particularly not enough to keep up

me scooting along the sidewalks and working those shears

to trim that crabgrass. I delayed, I dallied, and I dragged; I

stopped to talk with my best friend across the street. I

stopped to laugh at my friend next door, who could do a

Donald Duck impression that would send you into gales of

laughter. I stopped to tie a clover chain. I lingered under the

magnolia tree to enjoy the shade. Anything I could find to do

to keep me from moving on with that trimming, I did. My

father was out of sight, and the fifty-cent reward was not

enough to keep me moving.

But – here was my problem. My father was a postal carrier,

and he had been assigned to carry the very same street on

which we lived. And so, suddenly I would see him come

around the corner, a short block away, plodding along, up


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Bruce Readling

commented on Aug 8, 2008

Excellent thoughts on this passage!

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