As an avid gardener, my husband takes special delight in eating the first ripe tomato of the season. He can do so because he diligently tends his garden. He records monthly rainfall, past crop rotations, and the species of tomatoes he has planted. Each year, he starts planning before Christmas. He draws a sketch of his planting plan. He orders seeds, then starts the seedlings indoors. As soon as possible, he tills the garden, plants, fertilizes, and mulches. As necessary, he weeds and waters. He checks the garden every day. Soon, he takes me out to see the first flower, and then the first little baby tomatoes. He daily reports that they’ll be ripe “this week” or “maybe tomorrow.”
Then comes the moment. He spots the plump, red jewel winking at him from under green leaves. He reaches out and picks it. Standing beside the plant, he rubs the tomato on his shirt. Then, he raises it to his mouth and…Yumm!
He who tends the garden will enjoy the fruits thereof. As Proverbs 27:18 says,
He who tends the fig tree will eat its fruit,
And he who cares for his master will be honored.
Wait! What does horticulture have to do with how you treat your boss (or literal master)? While this proverb sets “master” as equivalent to “fig tree” it isn’t suggesting that you literally fertilize and water your boss. That might get you fired. However, figuratively speaking, if you tend your boss you will reap a good harvest. That harvest likely won’t be figs or tomatoes, but it will be honor, and that is of no small profit.
How does one “care for” his boss? Here are a few ideas.
- Don’t linger in the “shade” of the break room or kick back in your chair for “power naps.” Don’t indulge in extensive casual conversations or surf the internet. Pick up the hoe and dig in.
- Don’t attempt to slide by with minimal exertion. Water your work liberally with sweat.
- Fertilize your workplace with excellence. Do work well. For example, use spell-check. Pick up the paper clip from the floor by your desk. Pay attention to details and take care of them. Don’t leave the garden half weeded; complete the project. Complete the project before the deadline. Plan ways to improve.
- Take initiative. Don’t wait until you see the plants wilting before you decide to water. Look for work before you have to be told. Anticipate what your boss might want or what might be best for the office or the company.
- Take on new projects cheerfully. New varieties can spice up the garden.
- Don’t allow problems to sprout up unaddressed. Pluck those weeds immediately so your boss doesn’t have to.
- Work with integrity. Don’t pluck fruit that doesn’t belong to you. This applies not only to money and objects and other people’s lunches in the ‘fridge, but also to time and accolades. Deliver before the date you promise. Refuse undeserved credit and be generous in giving credit.
- Respect your boss and weed out disrespect by discouraging complaining in your own heart as well as in conversation. Don’t pin fake fruits of flattery on the vine, but do speak well of your boss to others.
Those who fear the Lord will work well primarily to please Him. Meanwhile, God has also graciously instituted the principle that diligent work usually reaps earthly rewards in addition to heavenly. The arboriculturist reaps fruit, the diligent student builds knowledge, the excellent servant receives honor. Those rewards are legitimate motives in addition to gratitude to the Lord.
This principle is true in authority structures besides the work place, like toward church leaders, teachers, government officials, and in family relationships. Helping your authority achieve his goals reaps honor for you.