by Tammy Phillips
“When the righteous are in authority, the people rejoice;
But when a wicked man rules, the people groan.”
Proverbs 29:2 (NASB)
I have had some splendid supervisors and a few, not so much. My work life has included a major evangelical organization, small ministries, a Christian college and several temporary assignments in secular organizations.
The evangelical ministry I served with for many years had been using a singular workbook in all of their training sessions. Our department was tasked with expanding that resource. We looked at the programs the ministry was doing and decided we needed a series of workbooks. Our supervisor, who always made each of us feel like we could do anything, said we could get everything done in six months. We jumped up and tried — hard — to get all of the first drafts completed, taken through the preview process, get the rewrites completed, then make them available to the field staff for use in the six months. Of course, it could not be done. It actually took more than three years to take each series of manuals through the process.
We wanted to get this project done in six months because it would please our supervisor. He was a visionary; we found out later that actual timelines were not his forte. But he was excellent at maintaining a warm and fun atmosphere. He listened intently to suggestions, encouraged resourcefulness and was respectful. Our department was unusual in its diversity: we had men and women, young and not quite so young, Black and White. If this mix of people made any difference to him, he was classy and mature enough not to show it. This godly man was missed when he was elevated to another position.
Conversely, I had a supervisor that was a terror. She had been the secretary to the president in the beginning years. Since she had supreme knowledge of every facet of the organization, she ended up training every male, college graduate that showed up. Each man hired was given his own department to manage while she continued to manage her boss’s schedule. Bitter did not adequately describe her when we met.
The atmosphere in the office was always tense. She ranted constantly. Instructions were tersely given. Making a mistake meant your ears would be ringing because of her screaming. Since our department touched all others, someone from each department had to come of our office a few times a week. The debate would begin as to who would be the unfortunate one. I did not miss this ungodly woman when I took another position, in another place, way, way across town.
Those in authority have an opportunity to either be a blessing or a walking curse. We can either be the boss, leader, director, committee chairman, or coach that encourages or the one that degrades. Are people rejoicing or groaning when you come in the room?