Whoever dreamed up National Boss Day must have had a terrific boss and never experienced one from hell. I’ve had both. Seems only fitting, since this "holiday" takes place in a few days, that I tell you about three distinctly different bosses from my life.
THE BOSS FROM HELL
One of my worst bosses was a physician – a high-strung, driven man intent on being a success. Though qualified and perhaps even a gifted physician, as a boss, well, let's just say he and Donald Trump have a lot in common.
My stint as one of his medical assistants was short – a matter of weeks—which came to an abrupt end when he summoned me into his back office. Puzzled as to why he wanted to see me you can understand my surprise when out of his mouth came a torrent of expletives and accusations about my ineptness which concluded with "You killed my plant! You're fired!" Though shocked by his words I managed to speak up and state "I didn't even know a plant was behind the door." To that comment, he picked up a stack of patient files and in a rage flung them towards me. Moments later he grabbed his medical bag, threw open the back office door and left.
As he made his exit, I stood there in disbelief. A plant? You’re firing me over a plant? Are you serious? Surely he had more justifiable reasons, but none were ever mentioned. As I bent down to pick up the scattered files on the floor, returning them to the desk (Believe me, if this were to take place today I would leave the files right where they landed and let him face the evidence of his immature behavior.) I didn’t know what disturbed me more: the tossing of the files, the loss of a job, a pitiful looking plant, or a man who was a heart attack waiting to happen.
Thankfully, the finance manager assured me I was not to blame and apologized for what had transpired. I found another job, and over the years worked for employers who were a stark contrast to the M.D.
THE BOSS I ADMIRE
One of those bosses was John Van Diest, founder of Multnomah Press and currently Associate Publisher with Tyndale House. I was a student at Western Seminary and working part time at Christian Supply Centers (7 bookstores in the Portland, OR area) when I first met John. He was its new director and soon after acquired Multnomah Press (MP). It was a tiny, barely known, publishing company whose name few could pronounce but eventually became known for many bestsellers, like “For Those Who Hurt?” by Charles Swindoll.
The staff was few in number in those days, often working in various capacities. I don’t think any of us had a job title, nor did we care. We were enjoying our work at this young company whose leader knew how to give clear directions, be fair, care about his staff, work hard, and be true to God. I’ve plenty of memorable moments from my years as managing editor at MP, like the time he and his family showed up at my house to surprise me with a Baskin Robbins birthday cake! Here are two other events from years ago:
Memorable Event #1
One day at MP's office complex I was sitting across from John at his desk. To his left was a large window which overlooked a field and nearby neighborhood. As we talked my eye caught a glimpse of smoke in the distance which I called to John’s attention. All of a sudden he stood up and blurted out, “That’s my house on fire!” Seconds later he was grabbing his car keys and running out of the office, instructing someone to call 911. Fortunately, no one was hurt but the first floor of his family's home was damaged when their TV caught on fire.
Memorable Event #2
John and I rarely had disagreements, but one conflict over an editorial issue resulted in my dismissal. Too much time has passed to remember all the details, but this I do recall: After a short period of time, John asked for a meeting at which he was first to apologize. I know my stubbornness contributed to the argument, but it was his humble attitude which enabled us to talk things out and find an amicable solution . . . and that is why I respect this man/boss so much.
Decades have passed since working for these men. I can’t even recall the M.D.’s name nor know whatever became of him. As for John Van Diest, we still keep in contact via Facebook and he continues to be semi-active in Christian publishing, mentoring others plus finding time to write a book or two. His latest is “Miracles All Around Us.”
THE ULTIMATE BOSS
There is one other boss I need to mention. To those who know him he is loving, generous and fair, but for many years I saw him as a dictator with a lot of archaic rules and rigid demands. That faulty view fed my bent towards perfectionism, something I denied for decades.
It was only when serious health issues emerged did I begin to acknowledge and understand what havoc stress, perfectionistic ways, and a distorted view of God had done to me over the years. Not one to give up easily, I attended a class on stress offered at the hospital, rested more, heeded my doctor's advice and looked for a different type of work (freelance from home). But still my health continued to deteriorate and when my savings ran out everything came to a halt. End result: I was down to $.47 cents and a prayer.
It was a humbling place to land, but thankfully God (The Ultimate Boss) heard me and came along side. Slowly, ever so slowly, he gave me the assist I needed to rebuild my life, starting with replacing my faulty view of him for an accurate one. Then came years of spending time immersed in His Word (the Bible) to get to know him which made trusting him easy. During that season I also saw more doctors, altered my diet, began to swim daily, and eventually was able to work part time at my one-woman graphic design business ... with God as the boss!
It was the best job I ever had.
P.S. What's the nicest thing your boss has ever said or done for you?