One of my favorite traditions at Christmas is to read or watch the Charles Dickens classic “A Christmas Carol” (the Playhouse in the Park here in Cincinnati, by the way, does an amazing rendition of this timeless tale). A Christmas Carol tells the story of Ebenezer Scrooge, an old miser who is visited by the ghost of his former business partner Jacob Marley and the Ghosts of Christmas Past, Present, and Yet to Come.
Scrooge, as his name indicates, treats people coldly, especially those closest to him, most vividly displayed in how he deals with his most faithful employee, Bob Cratchit. Cratchit, as you may recall, labors diligently to simply provide for the basic needs of his wife and children, most notably the youngest member of the Cratchit family, Tiny Tim. A sickly, yet hopeful, small boy, Tiny Tim’s life hinges in the balance of Scrooge’s transformation into a better man.
As a business leader, I am aghast (and yet slightly amused) at how Dickens portrays the gruff Scrooge. His contempt for Christmas is displayed in his famous reply “Bah Humbug!” to greetings of “Merry Christmas”, and begrudgingly giving Bob Cratchit the day off for Christmas. Yet after the visits from the Ghosts, especially the haunting visions of the future shown to Scrooge by the Ghost of Christmas Yet to Come, Ebenezer Scrooge is miraculously transformed into a kinder, gentler man, and gives lavishly to everyone he has previously neglected.
The highlight of this transformation is Scrooge’s willingness to increase Bob Cratchit’s salary and send his family the biggest goose in town for their Christmas feast. For Scrooge, being given the opportunity to see how his actions could impact the future lives of the people around him – and especially his employee’s family – was truly a gift.
As business leaders, we are not afforded this luxury of peering into the future to see the impact of the decisions we make. But we do have a Guide Book that instructs us to “know the condition of your flocks” (Proverbs 27:23), and we are exhorted in the following passage from the Apostle Paul to be generous on all occasions…
“But this I say: He who sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and he who sows bountifully will also reap bountifully. So let each one give as he purposes in his heart, not grudgingly or of necessity; for God loves a cheerful giver.” (2 Corinthians 9:6-7)
Taking good care of our employees is a way for us to demonstrate to a watching world the love of Christ in action. As believers in Christ in business, let’s lead the way in taking care of our employees, shall we? Let’s begin by being generous in word and deed this Christmas, then we can, in good conscience, join Tiny Tim and the transformed Ebenezer Scrooge in declaring…
“God bless us, every one!”