You Should Have Called Me

by Andy Wood on April 6, 2010

in Leadership, Life Currency, LV Cycle, Protecting Your Investment, Turning Points

I got fired.  I’d like to tell you why.

Just before I started grad school, I got a sales job with a unique premise.  “Come to work for my janitorial company,” Sergio said, “and I will pay you a commission for as long as we clean the building.”

Remember that thing your mama told you about something sounding too good to be true?  Yeah, that.

Living in a city the size of Fort Worth, I could easily see the potential for making some really good money for a long time.  After all, the city was filled with office buildings, and that was the focus of Fort Worth Enterprises – particularly the big ones.

You can imagine how my eyes danced with dollar signs when I helped land the company’s first big account – no less than Hulen Mall.  Or how my insides churned when my boss explained that his proposal wasn’t designed to work for retail spaces.  And how I would have to actually work 40 hours a week at the mall, supervising the janitorial crew.  And all this just as school was starting.

So two weeks into this, I had to explain to this native of Spain that a 40-hour schedule was cutting into my schoolwork.  Could I just go back to sales?  He agreed.

So on this Saturday, I was to show up at 7:00 and get the crew going, hand it off to the new manager at 9:00, and return at 5:00 and work until 10:00 p.m. for my last official day as a janitorial manager.

Problem was, at 7:00 a.m., I was the only employee there.  The two Vietnamese guys who did the mall trash missed their bus.  They didn’t speak English, and my roommates had no idea what they were saying.  The new lady hired to clean all the doors didn’t show, either.  So, I proceeded to do their jobs until 9:00.  When Anthony, the new manager, showed up, I explained that I – and now he – were solo.

“See you later,” I said, and left.

When I came back that evening, I saw Anthony,  Sergio’s wife, and a whole crew of people in our uniforms that I had never seen before, cleaning the food court like crazy.  I also saw a pretty steamed up Spaniard.

“Give me your keys,” he said, walking me to the equipment storage room.  “You’re fired.”

I was dumbfounded.  What had I done wrong?

“Why didn’t you call me?” he demanded.  “And why did you leave?”

“Nobody showed up!” I protested.  “What was I supposed to do?  I was too busy cleaning glass and hauling trash.”

“I can get a hundred people here to work!” Sergio said.  “But I couldn’t do anything because I didn’t know there was a problem.  And I didn’t know because you didn’t call me.”

Painful lesson learned.  Two, in fact.

Lesson one:  If you’re a leader, and there is a problem, you never, never, never walk off and hand it to somebody else.

Lesson two:  If you can’t solve the problem, then call somebody who can.

All of that climaxed one of the most painful summers of my life.  And it led to a massive turning point.  On that Saturday I told the Lord, “You’ve called me to ministry, and if I starve, that’s what I’m going to do.”

Three days later, Sergio called and offered me a chance to go back to sales-only.  I said I’d think about it.

We’ve never talked since.  But I can still hear the sound of his voice as he gravely said over and over, “You should have called me.”

Another Act of Judgment

All of Psalm 50 is about judgment.  And one of the things the Lord reveals to His people is that He’s holding them to a different standard then their expectations of offering sacrifices and performing religious duties.  So how will the Lord judge His people?

“Offer to God a sacrifice of thanksgiving

And pay your vows to the Most High;

Call upon Me in the day of trouble;

I shall rescue you, and you will honor Me” (Psalm 50:14-15).

One the things the Lord will be looking for is how we responded to Him in our day(s) of trouble.  And more times than not, like that fateful day in the mall, I have made the mistake of rolling up my sleeves instead of bending my knees and calling for help.  Thankfully, the Lord has never fired me!  But that question still haunts:

Why didn’t you call Me?

Calling on the Lord when we’re in trouble is an expression of worship.  It’s a way of honoring Him before he rescues us (again!) from our trouble.

Calling on the Lord is our way of expressing trust in Him.  As we call on Him, we are saying, “I believe You are the solution to my need, and that Your heart toward me is faithful.”

To this day, my pride resists.  Heck, I don’t like asking for traffic directions, much less for a bailout from God.  So instead, I’m tempted to rationalize (with my rational lies) that this situation doesn’t qualify as “trouble.”

“I can deal with this,” I reason.  And Heaven sighs.

Know what happens next?  No, I don’t get fired.  He just waits until it’s desperate enough for me to humble myself.

Why didn’t you call me?

Yeah, that.

{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

Eric Chaffin April 6, 2010 at 7:27 am

So true. In this humanistic age, aren’t men always looking to find their own solutions? Come to think of it, hasn’t it always been that way? Hasn’t God been humbling men throughout time because men “will boast to me that they saved themselves by their own strength?” (Judges 7:2)

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