For about five years I worked in a sheet metal shop on the day shift. During a transitional point in my life my wife and I moved from the town we were living in to a place which was about a half hour drive from where I worked. A different situation necessitated the move, but I’ll not go into that now.
Shortly after we moved, the shop opened a new location which happened to be basically up the street from our new place. They needed sheet metal staff at the new location, and were selecting individuals for the mandatory commute to the new location based on whom supervisors felt they could spare. When I realized they were looking for sheet metal workers in the new building, I volunteered to go.
Now the new shop is right up he street from my new home, seems like a logical move with no hurt feelings, right?
It just happened that the weekend shift supervisor from the old shop had been moved to the new one. The weekend shift supervisor was out of favor with the other shifts. I’ll admit I had a bias against him from the start because with my rare interactions with this gentleman – we’ll call him John – I had come to believe much of the gossip that was commonly made against him. It came down to this: the day shift supervisor considered himself (rightly, or wrongly I still don’t know) to be the DEPARTMENT supervisor who was in charge of the whole department, and over the swing shift and weekend shift ‘leads.’
Well, swing shift had a shift lead who was hired by the day supervisor, and he towed the line just fine, submitting to the day shift supervisor. ‘John,’ on the other hand – the weekend shift supervisor – had the title of supervisor, and understood his own role to be equal to that of the day shift supervisor (rightly, or wrongly I still don’t know).
John wasn’t belligerant (as far as I ever saw), nor did he ever usurp the day supervisor’s authority (that I was aware of), but he did esteem himself to be on equal footing with he day supervisor which caused problems between he two of them. These problems trickled through the whole department, and there was (as is most common) a schism between the different shifts. Making fun of John, and implying his incompetnece, and that of the other weekend shift workers was entirely fair game. It may have gone the same the other way round, too.
Anyhow, John had moved to the new location to work days rather than weekends as the sheet metal supervisor of the new shop. So… my requesting to move to the new location was seen by the day shift supervisor not as a logical convenience as it was much nearer my home, but as a betrayal. I got he clear sense that the day supervisor had been trying to spare ‘his guys’ from having to work with John; my request baffled him… and, it seemed, hurt him.
Prior to my moving locations, a number of the guys I worked with I considered good friends. One in particular with whom had developed a mutual trust; he was a Christian brother who gravitated toward me because of my zeal for the Lord. I, likewise gravitated toward him becuse he was poor in spirit; he’s a good guy. There were a handful of other good Christian guys who were friands. All of them took offense at my leaving. Why? The only discernable reason was that I had – from their perspective – chosen John over the dayshift supervisor.
Though there was obviously offense taken, the general expectation was that I would work for a few weeks at the new location, realize how bad it was and beg to come back. They seemed to view it as: ‘He just doesn’t know how bad John is, yet. He’ll learn.’
Well, I went and worked at he other location under John’s management for six or eight months. Lo and behold, John wasn’t incompetent, wasn’t bad supervisor, and he was fairly aimiable and easy to get along with.
You’d think that it would be understandable to my friends that I chose not to take up their biased predispisition toward the guy who was my new boss… but I guess it wasn’t. The ones who first assumed I’d wise up felt more betrayed when I would point out to them that from my experience (which was now much more than their own, as I was working with him daily) that John actually wasn’t a bad guy to work with.
Eventually the new location closed (it had been leased for a certain number of months), and I went back to working with my friends on day shift. None of my relationships with any of them ever healed after I had gone to work with John at the other shop. My friend who was drawn to me for my zeal had lost respect for my judgment because I didn’t mind working with John. He had been a friend with whom I was begining to connect outside of work, i’d visited his church, gone to his birthday party, when I eventually got a new job and left the company entirely the one person I really would have liked to continue communicating with blocked me from his phone and social media.
So what’s the point?
‘…for whereas there is among you envying, and strife, and factions, are ye not yet carnal and walk as men?’ (1 Cor. 3:3)
On the microcosmic level of a company’s shift divisions, faction has power to destroy relationships. When we become loyal to a group, organization, or man (in this case a supervisor), and derive our sense purpose from our loyalty to that man, our appropriate allegiances become skewed. As Christians, should my friends have been able to see past the day shift/ weekend shift schism? Who are Christians supposed to be loyal to? Christ, or man?
Faction with anyone, and you become the disciple of whom you have factioned with; you take on their perspectives, their principles, and their biases. If you fail to see it exactly according to those perspectives, principles and biases you are stepping out of line. No one can serve two masters.
If you are going to be led by the Spirit of God, you cannot be controlled by the factions of men. Albeit, not to be a downer but if you are going to be led by the Spirit of God, you’ll end up with similar testimonies to what I ‘ve shared here. Are you ready to follow Him who was despised and rejected of men?