Spiritually Speaking


What do you do with an employee who won’t do his work? The father of this young man has been employed by this same company for over 25 years and I believe because of his longevity and strong ties to the owners the son is never reprimanded. He is a trouble shooter, spends more time traveling than working, a normal work week for him is three days and maybe four to five hours of those three days.
His Mondays and Fridays are on the road traveling to another state to see his girlfriend, although his report will state that he’s traveling to the next job. He isn’t subject to the rules and regulations that the rest of us are. Weekly reports, are mandatory for us; if and when he does file a report, the reports are not accurate for the most part or the truth. If we complain we are reprimanded. We wind up doing most of his work, because if it doesn’t get done, we’ll lose customers and, more than likely, our jobs.

Dear Disgruntled,
It sounds to me like this “young man” is in some ways a child who never grew
up, someone who refuses to take life seriously and fulfill his adult responsibilities. While his co-workers can try to ignore this bad behavior and pick up the slack, it creates an awkward work situation that is difficult to sustain over time. Having others in the office try to cover for his shortcomings may offer a temporary fix, but in the long run will only exacerbate this person’s problematic attitude and provide no real incentive for him to change his ways. Ignoring this conduct will only encourage him to take advantage of other people in his life and to seek out irresponsible “shortcuts” to avoid hard work. As King Solomon states in Proverbs 22:6 –  “Train a child according to his
way; even when he grows old he will not turn away from it.” We must
consider this young man as essentially a child and try to address his
specific issues.
I believe that it is the responsibility of the co-workers
to try to nip this situation in the bud and put an end to the poor behavior. While this is obviously easier said than done, I suggest that fellow
employees stand together as a group, present their case in a respectful
manner to both the owners and the young man’s father, and hope that common
sense prevails.
If you genuinely believe that speaking up puts your job at risk – even
while acting as part of a united group that expresses itself in a
diplomatic, courteous way – then you may decide to remain silent and try to
put up with the situation as best you can. Unfortunately, keeping quiet
will likely lead to some crisis point down the road where you and your
co-workers simply won’t be able to cover for him any longer.
Unless this
person gets a clear message to straighten himself out and get on track, he
will have no incentive to act responsibly and others will suffer as a

Rabbi Simcha Backman
Chabad Jewish Center

Dear Disgruntled,
From the beginning of the Bible in Genesis 2 we learn that work was part of God’s creative plan – He did not create man to be idle but to work to support himself and his family. God created the world and then He set Adam to work in the garden – Genesis 2:15.
Reading between the lines, I perceive a sense of resignation and anger among the employees who consistently have to do another’s work in addition to their own. Rather than be resigned and angry, the employees can, if they are willing, create a solution that works for everyone. There is safety in numbers, and I suggest the employees who are covering for this man collectively compose a letter to the owner describing and documenting as many incidences as possible where other employees were doing the man’s job, and request a meeting. The man who is slacking has to know he is not doing his job, and confronted with the possibility of unemployment, he more than likely would change his behavior.
In Thessalonians 3: 10-12, Paul commends honest work and condemns laziness.
Other issues to be addressed are the anger and possible misperceptions pervading the workplace. The negative energy of anger could very well bring the entire business down and the perception of the owner’s ties with the slacking employee’s father may be inaccurate. Although the owner may be aware of the situation, he may feel he has no choice in the matter. Employees standing together united would bring into the owner’s awareness the necessity for immediate action and the creation of harmony and integrity in the workplace.

Rev. Beverly Craig
Center for Spiritual Living –
La Crescenta


What can I do about educating a neighbor on the welfare of her pet? Her little 2-year-old Corgi has never been trained, is left out in all kinds of extreme weather from freezing cold to pouring rains until the neighbor thinks she’s been out long enough to “do her job,” which sometimes is for hours, or all day if she so chooses.
Because she leaves food and water and has a travel carrier out the Humane Society won’t get involved. The little dog has no clue what that carrier is for and has never used it [and] usually spills her water so goes without for hours at a time. In my opinion, it’s animal abuse, pure and simple.
Animal Lover in Glendale

Dear Animal Lover,
“Love Thy Neighbor as Thyself.” How would you want to be approached if you were the dog’s owner? Spirit is always offering us situations to stretch. What a great opportunity to get to know your neighbor and share your feelings about the situation in a kind and thoughtful way. When we are feeling negative emotions about a situation, it is Spirit’s sign for us to look for the opposite of the challenge and bless it! The real gift is in finding a win/win situation for the animal and a new level of friendship between neighbors. When we can’t see the big picture in someone else’s situation it is easy to pre-judge them in ways that hold the challenge in place by our attention to what is not working. Moving our attention to a solution brings a resolution. What does the situation look like resolved? Are there other challenges happening in the neighbor’s life that we may not be aware of? If so, what can we do to help?
When we offer assistance with compassion and love, we are part of the solution. When we offer judgment and criticism, we are part of the problem. Change your thinking, change your life!

Rev. Steven Van Meter
Assistant Minister
Center for Spiritual Living-
La Crescenta

Dear Glendale Animal Lover,
Pets are not just our property. They are fellow creatures and companions on this earth. As such, they deserve our guardianship and compassion, not just minimal physical care. That responsibility means that we need to provide for them as though they were members of our family – and some of them do become that close to us.
You don’t say whether you have had any conversations with your neighbor about her dog. It may just be that she doesn’t really understand her obligation as an owner/companion. I hope that you can convince her in a sensitive way that what she is treating her dog is not all right. If she is a member of a local congregation, you might even be able to get some support for your efforts from her minister, rabbi or imam.
If your words or actions don’t help, perhaps you could give her a booklet from a local vet or pet store about pet owner responsibilities. Her dog needs love and training, not neglect.
If that fails, you could call the ASPCA or PETA for advice or intervention. As a minister and animal lover, my heart goes out to this poor dog and to you. I hope that you will be able to find a solution to this difficult issue. Blessings,

Rev. Dr. Betty Stapleford
Unitarian Universalist Church of the Verdugo Hills
La Crescenta

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