Everyday Encounter with God

Pastor Sylvia's Encounters with God in the Midst of Everyday Life


Richest or Almost Richest

Every morning I receive an email from one of the region’s daily papers. They list the top ten news stories in a shortened version. That’s about all the “news” I can take. I choose not to read every word of the current political rhetoric. I don’t care at all if my body meets the standard of the Kardashians. But I do like knowing a little about what’s happening regionally, nationally, and internationally.

A few days ago one of the top news stories was about Jeff Bezos. For a few hours he was the wealthiest person in the world. When shares of Amazon stock surged on July 27th, he momentarily passed Bill Gates. Then the stock settled and he was back into a still very acceptable second place.

Amazon started as an online book seller. Now they deliver everything from baby diapers to fresh produce to cloud computing. They were named the “World’s Most Innovative Company of 2017,” outgrowing Wal-Mart to become the largest retailer in the United States. Surely, theirs is a story of success.

But that isn’t the full story. There is a dark side that makes a statement about what we will tolerate in corporate culture today.

Jeff Bezos was named the World’s Worst Boss by the International Trade Union Confederation in 2014. In an article profiling Amazon’s work culture, one former employer said, “I saw nearly everyone I worked with cry at their desk at some point.”

Workers who suffered personal crises claim they were treated unfairly or forced to resign rather than given time to recover. It wasn’t unusual for emails to arrive after midnight, followed an hour later by text messages asking why they weren’t answered timely.

Bezos admits that their standards are “unreasonably high.”

Today we live in a world that is dominated by mega-corporations. In a 2014 article published by “The Guardian,” Benjamin Barber noted that, "By many measures, corporations are more central players in global affairs than nations. We call them multinational but they are more accurately understood as postnational, transnational or even anti-national. For they abjure the very idea of nations or any other parochialism that limits them in time or space."

“Foreign Policy” includes Amazon on its list of twenty-five companies that are more powerful than many countries. These corporate nations transcend geographical and political boundaries. Uber is now the world’s largest taxi service. Airbnb is the largest hotel company. No one voted their CEOs into power. No one tries them in the court of public opinion when they treat people badly.

The President of the United States is asked to justify everything he says and does. Jeff Bezos? No.

Certainly profits are important, but people are the reason corporations exist. Dedicated and knowledgeable employees, loyal satisfied customers, savvy marketing, and competent/motivating leadership are the essential ingredients for any successful company.

The same is true of the Christian church. Jesus personally trained men and women who were motivated by the truth of his message. They carried The Good News from a small geographic area around ancient Jerusalem to the world, and built a network of “satisfied customers” who did all their marketing free of charge. Today the gospel has crossed all geographical and political boundaries.

Jesus didn’t berate people. He didn’t demand instant service, in fact he came to serve—not be served. The only time he left people “crying at their desk,” was under personal conviction of their sins and in thanksgiving for his forgiveness.

Personally, I think Jeff Bezos could learn a lot by following the example of Jesus.