Monday, February 15, 2021

Quadruple Bottom Line: Michael, a Mechanic

This is the last of three blogs that I wanted to put out, telling the story of several Christians who are living out a quadruple bottom line in their work.  I hope that it shows how every Christian, in every workplace, can have a quadruple bottom line to fulfill the Great Commitment of Genesis 1 and 2, the Great Commandment of Matthew 22, and the Great Commission of Matthew 28.  We believe the world would look and operate differently if every Christian was able to set goals for an economic, environmental, social and missional bottom line, which is reinforced and supported by the Church when gathered.

Michael, a Mechanic

Michael is a 46-year-old mechanic who has been working on vehicles since he was a boy.  His father was a mechanic, as was his uncle, and his older brother.  He likes to say that grease runs in his veins!  The business is a small family business, on a corner lot on the outskirts of town.  Michael grew up in the church, but he had not seen much overlap between his faith and his work until his church started a workplace ministry.  Since going through the DML class in his church, he has made and applied a quadruple bottom line to his work and his home.

  1. Economic – When I learned that the purpose for business is to help the customer and employees flourish, it really changed my thinking.  I prided myself on being a Christian mechanic because I didn’t switch out good parts for bad parts, like I know other mechanics sometimes do.  But there were times when I ignored parts that needed replacing because, by not informing the customer, they would come back again and pay for labor.  Sometimes I informed them about a part going bad and slightly exaggerated the urgency of replacing the part.  But when I started to look at my business from God’s perspective, to see people flourish, to see their cars as a means for them to fulfill their calling and help others flourish, it made things clearer in my mind.  I no longer looked at my economic bottom line as the only component of my business, but the desire to see my customers flourish.  So I made a commitment to be very honest, even if it cost me a sale.  And the amazing thing is that since I did that, my business has increased.  I have had to hire two more guys to help out!  Apparently people really appreciate a mechanic that they can trust and they have started referring friends to me.  I didn’t realize that would be the case – I had resigned myself to have less and God has blessed me with more.
  2. Environmental – Being a mechanic is messy business.  We deal with a lot of old used parts as well as a lot of used oil.  The temptation to dump oil is great and the temptation to just let old parts rust out in the back of our lot is also there.  But as I thought about being a steward of creation, I began to look into other options for what to do with our waste.  First, I found out that there is a synthetic oil which is better for the environment AND is better for the customer.  In fact, it will last eight times longer for customers.  That means less oil changes for them and better for the environment – win-win!  It is more expensive so not everyone takes that option, but the number is growing.  I also found a place that will actually buy scrap parts from us.  They come buy once a month and pick it up, break them down, and then recycle them for new parts.  It doesn’t pay much at all, but it is better than letting things rust and corrode into the soil.  Our lot is cleaner and that is a good thing!
  3. Social – As I considered what it means to love my neighbor at my work, I remembered what my pastor said about the three resources we have been given:  time, treasure, and talent.  I know I don’t have a lot of treasure, but I also realized that I have a special talent in fixing cars, and I could spare some time to teach others.  My church has been talking about the growing youth group and their need for work, so I contacted the leader and offered to do a training for them on routine maintenance for a car-owner (even if they don’t own a car now, they might in the future!).  To my surprise, they ended up wanting to open it up for anyone in the church who wanted to attend.  It ended up being a lot of fun as I taught them how to change a tire, change the oil, change a battery, as well as headlights and taillights.  Since then, they have asked me to take on a couple of youth for an apprenticeship at the shop, which I agreed to do.  We had apprentices in the past, but this felt different since they were members of our church and we kept ourselves in check to do our work as an act of worship!
  4. Missional – If you are a mechanic, or you know mechanics, you know that we tend to be a pretty close-knit group.  Usually, many of us are in the same part of town, and we get to know each other pretty well.  It’s true that there is competition, but there is also a healthy camaraderie.  When my pastor asked me who God might be calling me to disciple at work, I couldn’t answer.  But what I could do (and did do) was develop my prayer chart with many of the names of these friends.  I’m already in relationship with them, but I know that I hadn’t talked about my faith with them.  I asked God for an opportunity and began to pray regularly for each of them by name.  After a couple of weeks doing this, one of the men on my list began talking to me about some family issues while we were hanging out.  My heart began to race as I realized that this was likely the opportunity I had been praying about.  With a little bit of nervousness, I asked him if he would mind if I prayed for him.  He responded with a laugh, but when he saw that I was serious, he glanced around and then said yes.  I prayed for him right then and there, and we began to talk and share more.  Slowly more people began to listen in on our discussions and started to join.  Two months later we had started a prayer group, once a week, on Fridays at lunch.  About twelve guys came to the last one!  I’m amazed.  I’m not really sure where we will meet next but I’m guessing God will help me figure that out! 

We thank God for people like Michael in this world who do their work as an act of worship, with the goal of seeing those around them flourish!