Day 15 Devotional & Discussion – March 6, 2015

Genesis 31:22-44

List the grievances that Jacob accused Laban of perpetrating. Which of Laban’s actions seem most egregious to you? Why do you think Laban has acted the way he has toward Jacob over the 20 years of Jacob’s employment? How has the story of Jacob and Laban impacted your view of workers who complain about injustice in the workplace?

Theft in the workplace is not uncommon.  Office employees steal staplers, paper, rubber bands.  Restaurant employees steal food.  Often, employees justify their actions by saying, “The company doesn’t pay me enough.”  After reading about Laban’s actions and Jacob’s “stealing” Laban’s sheep, what do you think of workplace theft?

2 comments

  1. The easy answer is to say “Workplace theft is wrong.” And it is wrong. But in reality, the lines are often fuzzy. My secretary once told me that he got written up at a previous job because he put a company-provided pen in his shirt pocket. The boss thought he was stealing, when in fact he was only temporarily placing it there. Ridiculous. For me it can be hard to find the dividing line between my job as pastor and my personal life. In many ways there is no dividing line and shouldn’t be. My cell phone has always been paid for by both the church and myself, for example. How strict do I have to be to delineate how I use the phone. I find it to be way too tedious to separate it out. As the boss, I feel that there should be great latitude given in this area. My parishioners should feel free to use our copier, our internet, etc. for personal use. And we allow it without asking many questions. So I guess I’m okay with a fuzzy line. I want it to stay that way.

  2. It’s egregious to me that Laban changed Jacob’s wages 10 times in the 20 years–and you know it wasn’t that Jacob got a raise! But for some reason, I was really bothered that Laban expected Jacob to cover all the costs associated with losing sheep to wild animals or thieves. No wonder Jacob lost sleep! Teachers right now are feeling great pressure for all their students to progress and perform. One teacher I know was told that if all of his students did not meet or exceed state standards on the standardized test that he would be given an unsatisfactory rating. That kind of requirement doesn’t take into account any outside factors that are beyond his control. While accountability is important in any job, it is unfair and oppressive to expect perfection! I am also really mindful of times that I am given the wrong change at stores (especially if I “make money” on the transaction). We all make mistakes, but I know that the cashier is going to be required to cover any shortage from his/her paycheck. And most cashiers are low-wage workers. While I understand the need to balance the books and hold employees accountable, I think employers/managers need to show some leniency (especially for newer employees) and provide the supports for improvement rather than simply punishing the employee.

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