A case study in conflict on the job

Professional ethics involves a prior question. How can you know what to do in life until you know who you are? From a Christian perspective, the starting point of personal identity is the awareness that you are uniquely made in God’s image. In the presented case study, Cheryl, Samuel and Robert present very vivid characters of persons in many work places. They portray how divided people can be in a work place. John is left to decide on the best way to go about it both as the manager and a Christian in the market place. In the event of this all, I wish to explore what might have transpired finally causing divisions among them. My paper will also seek to explain what John as both a manager and a Christian in the market place can do to help the situation.

The core issue in the situation is that everyone is working for his or her own interest. In the late eighteenth century, for example, Adam Smith, founder of capitalism, “defined work solely as a means of fulfilling self interest.” [i]

In this case no one wants to act out of compassion, but only out of enlightened concern for personal advancement. We address ourselves, not to their humanity but to their self-love.

According to Cheryl, she was not late in presenting the request to Samuel on an event that would take place in a few days’ time. The fact that Samuel has refused to listen, had made her become a rumor monger in the corporation telling everyone about what happened. Because she had very good relations with the public gives her an edge over Samuel, something that makes her to have a fairly righteous attitude.

She goes on to tell the story to Robert who is one of the supervisors in the corporation. From this, comes out an issue which has been in Robert’s mind. He has not lived to like Samuel at all.  Robert and Samuel have never been friends for a number of reasons. Robert cites lack of support and too controlling as the major reason for Samuel to be rendered a bad person. Samuel on the other hand had developed a deaf ear towards Cheryl. He is indeed rude and in control of his office. He also intends to hurt Cheryl by disappointing her. Historical issues arise amidst this situation which means members of this organization have harbored their differences for some time.

Whereas both, classical and Christian ethics had regarded self-interest as a vice to be overcome for both the common good, Smith contended that self interest was actually good for society. Looking further into this case, focusing on self-interest proved very effective, for in a fallen world, it is one of the strongest forms of motivation.

Christianity had traditionally renounced as immoral, self-interest instead of concern for the common good, personal ambition instead of selflessness, and drive for personal gain instead of self sacrifice and charity.

Smith was mistaken in the thinking that an autonomous free market would operate most beneficently. This is quite the opposite. As the early days of industrialism proved, an autonomous, secularized. Capitalism exploits both workers and the environment, creating new forms of slavery.2

Ethical dilemma can be attributed to rules governing the corporation. It is not clear who Cheryl is answerable to because she is seen asking help from Samuel and when she fails to achieve her goal, she goes to Robert who is a supervisor. It is also not clear who is supervising who between Samuel and Robert. If Cheryl was following rules and regulations then she would follow one step.

Again if Robert was following the proper channel, he would have gone to share with Samuel and hear his side of the story. Of course economic issues reflect a profound confusion in secular society-whether it is welfare reform, tensions over work and this goes as far as family commitments or relationship morality to economic policy.

John in this case study is very steady and not moved. A fact that is clearly seen when he offers a leaning shoulder to everyone that comes to him. He shows an act of maturity and responsibility by listening to everybody. He has also discovered through conversation that historical issues arise in the matter. The guiding principle here is the Love coupled with the being good stewards at all times. If love prevails then bearing one another’s burden is easy.

Jesus particularly in his parables uses the image of the steward or manager for disciples. The steward manages both people and money with great freedom, but he is also accountable.

Faith as work (LK. 10.38-42), Mary and Martha suggests that learning the truth of God is higher form of work than the ‘busyness’ of everyday activity, even hospitality. And Paul says; work out your salvation with fear and trembling’ (Phil. 2:12)

We must also stress that without the discipline, achievement and means of service provided by honest labor, human life can disintegrate. At the same time we need to criticize the rejection of grace implied in a focus on work at cost of neighborliness, family life, life, play or rest.

The renewal of work is communal and personal responsibility rooted in trust. Genuine work is not the basis of our security but can take place when we know that our needs can be met by God.

We work not in order to be accepted but because we have already been accepted in grace.

Smith Adam, THE WEALTH OF NATION (NEW YORK: Modern Library, 1994)15. Colson Charles, HOW NOW SHALL WE LIVE (WHEATON: Illinois, 1999)390. Ibid. 391. The Bible in Luke 10.38-42. Ibid. Phil. 2:12.