Saturday, September 28, 2013

Monday Morning Meditation #79: Pay People Fairly

I have landed in Yorktown, Virginia and am awaiting a colleague to arrive who is more skilled at technology than I am since everything I have touched this weekend has fallen apart -- including my blackberry, which means I cannot communicate with anyone at work except by laptop (i.e. when I am somewhere where I can use the big, clunky thing, which I guess I will have to carry around everywhere with me now). I can use my iPhone for getting personal email, but business email is supposed to come via our vpn and blackberries. Oh, well, I am getting settled in and will start preparing for my Tuesday presentation at a major conference with nearly 200 people in my "individualized" training session. Oh, the topic? Use of technology in education and training!!!!!!

At least, reading Jeremiah draws me away from my tech woes. No tech there! Ah, to return to such a lifestyle. On the other hand, no way would I want to have been Jeremiah. All those negative messages he had to deliver...!

One of the many messages delivered by Jeremiah that I read this week was one that struck home big time:
“Woe to him who builds his palace by unrighteousness,
his upper rooms by injustice,
making his own people work for nothing,
not paying them for their labor.
Reading: Jeremiah 22:13

Meditation: I once worked, not all that long ago, for an Egyptian mogul who called himself Dr. Abdullah. I say "called himself" because he held only a bachelor's degree. However, thanks to infusing large amounts of money into various educational institutions with which he formed partnerships that provided him with immense profit (yet was able to maintain accreditation and non-profit status because the institutions themselves were accredited). Because the institutions were located in the Middle East and American accreditors were afraid to travel so close to war zones and anti-American areas, they simply extended the accreditation of the home institution to the Middle Eastern campus without nary a visit. Dr. Abdullah happily provided all the paperwork requested although little of it reflected the reality.

I was thrown into that mix when I was hired as a senior administrator. I watched in alarm and sadness as Dr. Abdullah, prone to tantrums, would, for no apparent reason fire one person or another who crossed him, usually inadvertently. As for paying a fair wage -- the unfair wages Dr. Abdullah paid were a minor problem compared to the fact that sometimes he made faculty wait 3-4 months to receive their pay. That was one area in which I took him on -- and won -- when I arrived.

Another area, in which I quickly became embroiled, was the fact that no bookstore would order books for our students because Dr. Abdullah owed them so much money. Although he seemed to be rolling in dough, to use the popular expression, and was, at least, living high on the hog, to use another, he simply did not pay his creditors, moving from one to another until finally, in the case of books, he ran out of any store willing to serve our students. The last semester I worked for Dr. Abdullah as the senior administrator I purchased $30K worth of books for our students because no bookseller would give Dr. Abdullah credit. Dr. Abdullah promised to pay me back, but he never did. I ultimately gave up, writing him a letter, telling him that if his conscience ever poked him, he could give the money he owed me to a local charity for children that was desperately in need of funding. He never did; apparently, a conscience was not within him.

The verse in Jeremiah struck me because of a communication I received in relation to Dr. Abdullah. After I left his institution and moved on to better work, I would pray for him. I had no desire by then to be reimbursed or compensated for anything. I was simply concerned about his soul. If Jeremiah 22:13 is to be taken to heart, then Dr. Abdullah certainly needs prayer. However, one evening while praying for Dr. Abdullah, I heard the words, "Do not pray for that man."

Those words shocked me, and I had no idea how to respond. I never received any further clarification, but I did stop praying for him. I told a friend who is a pastor, and she said that she would pray for him instead of me. I have not heard from her whether she received any similar communication. Why would God not want me to pray for Dr. Abdullah? I have wondered about that for nearly five years. Now, reading what was said to Jeremiah, I am beginning to understand. Woe, I fear, awaits Dr. Abdullah. I feel terribly sorry for him although he is one of the richest people I know and seems to lack for nothing he wants in this life.

Contemplation: That is far as I can go with you this Monday morning. I now retire to private prayer to thank God for not granting me everything my family members or I might want, to promise to treat all God's people fairly, to repent for any time I have expected unfair "labor" (in the broadest sense of that word), and to ask for more opportunities to serve God and His people. Then I will move on to contemplation, my favorite part of the day, letting God take over the direction in which my relationship with Him moves.

I will leave you now to your prayer and contemplation. First, though, I would like to bring to your attention a Monday morning prayer post that you might enjoy:

Fr. Austin Fleming, priest of the Archdiocese of Boston and pastor in Concord, Massachusetts, posts a prayer each Monday morning that he calls "Monday Morning Offering." I enjoy his prayers very much. I think you also will find them inspirational. He has graciously given me permission to include a link to his blog on my Monday Morning Meditation posts. (During the week, he also posts great homilies and other thoughtful discussions. I enjoy reading those, too, as do readers of this blog who have taken the stroll over to his blog.)

For additional inspiration throughout the week, I would point out two sets of blogs: (1) the list of devotional blogs on my sidebar and (2) my blogroll, where I am following a number of inspirational priests and writers about spiritual matters. I learn so very much from all these people. I highly recommend them to you.

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