Imagine this scenario:
You and a friend have each had the same work-from-home jobs together for your entire careers so far. You work for the same company but in separate departments with different responsibilities. You have different bosses, but they might as well be the same person. They each have the same style of predictable, dry leadership, but since it’s all the two of you have ever really known, you’ve accepted it and grown comfortable with their little quirks and tendencies.
As long as the two of you have worked there, neither of you have learned much about your bosses, nor do they seem to care much about getting to know either of you. The only conversations you have with them are about the quota you have to meet in order to satisfy their expectations. These days, the only time either of you actually hears from them is if you fall behind in your respective responsibilities. But again, it’s all you two have ever really known and so you don’t think much of it.
Internally, this job has become so second-nature to both of you, so mindless, that it’s all you guys can do to get out of bed each morning. When you hang out after work, the conversation usually revolves around how unhappy and unfulfilled you both are. There’s nothing new to learn or goals to reach for. It was great during your first few months at the company, but you’ve been chasing that previous excitement for years now. You just can’t seem to get it back, no matter how many hours you spend trying in an effort to work your way up the ladder. Your bosses just don’t seem to notice or care. It seems like a dead end job now and you’re starting to talk about looking around for a new beginning. Maybe you will find excitement that actually lasts somewhere else.
Out of the blue, your friend tells you they’ve been hired by a new company to do the exact same tasks as before. The only difference is they’re working for a new boss.
“New motivations,” your friend says. “I’m using the same skills as before… just working on someone else’s side.”
Your friend tells you all about the company and how happy they are over there. Before the conversation ends, your friend extends an offer to you for the same opportunity. Same responsibilities but for a new boss. Your friend explains that there’s not even an interview to go through for the position. If you want it, it’s yours.
With nothing to lose, you decide to accept. All you need to do is call your new supervisor, who happens to be the same as your friend.
That first conversation is extremely awkward because, like your friend said, you apparently already have the job. All that’s required of you is to explain that you’d like to accept it– that your current job just isn’t giving you what you need and that you’d like something more. The conversation is also extremely intimidating because you’ve heard of this guy before. He used to be the CEO at the largest private corporation in the world and has taken a mega-demotion to be where he is now as your supervisor. You’re not sure about the specifics, but it seems odd that he was willing to stoop so low. The conversation grows even more tense when he acknowledges the demotion, but not in the way you expected. He says he actually took the demotion in hopes that you would eventually work for him. Apparently, he’s had his eye on you for a while. Your friend, too. He somehow knows everything about both of you already.
Working for this new boss is pretty uncomfortable at first. So much so that you wonder if you’d be better off just going back to working for your former boss. It helps to have your friend to lean on and relate to, so you decide to stick with it a little while longer.
This new supervisor asks each of you to accomplish your responsibilities with a different procedure than how you did them before. He emphasizes how important this new process is and does a complete audit of your tasks, showing you how to do everything more efficiently and how to produce a better quality product in the end. This new process turns out to be better not just for the company, but for you as well.
The work is often exhausting, but you start to notice that you’ve become more motivated to get up and start the day than before. You’re sleeping better and spending your free time more productively because you feel more fulfilled. It’s an even better feeling than the excitement you had when you started out with the previous company. This isn’t because the job itself is any more exciting. It’s because this CEO-boss of yours is actively investing in you the entire time– coaching you, inviting you to call him whenever you’d like just to “catch up.” He’s showing you new opportunities and goals to reach for, and promising you that he’d be there to help you achieve them.
Right about this time, you start to realize how selfish, overbearing, and impossible-to-please your old boss was. He never actually cared about you— only how much money you could make him before you completely burnt yourself out. You never noticed it before because it was all you knew. But now you see what you were missing.
Your CEO-boss, who’s become a close friend at this point, didn’t grumble like your old boss would have when you requested some vacation time. He actually encouraged you to get all the rest you need and have a great time. While you’re over exploring the Galapagos Islands (always wanted to go there…), you call just to check in and share some of your cool stories. It goes straight to voicemail, which has a new recorded greeting. Something about a three-day leave of absence.
When you return home, the rest of the story is revealed. While you were away, accusations were filed against you for some of the corners you had been cutting– shortcuts you had learned and continued from your previous job despite your new boss asking you to do the process differently.
Panic starts to set in as you notice your boss is just now calling you back. Surely he knows about the rules you’ve been breaking, and he’s calling to fire you. Before even saying “Hello,” you start apologizing for your laziness. You start begging him not to fire you and promising that you’ll do better about following company policy. That’s about when he cuts you off.
“Don’t worry,” he says. “I took care of it.”
You pause for a moment, completely confused. “What do you mean?”
“I went up to headquarters last week for a few days and got it all sorted out,” he explains.
“How did you do that?” you ask, still lost.
“Well, company policy says that I needed to fire you immediately. But the president of the company agreed to let me keep you on as long as your salary comes out of my own paycheck.”
“Oh, okay cool,” you exhale. “…Wait… WHAT?!”
“Yeah,” he says with a chuckle. “I want to keep you around if you’re okay with that. But if you want to resign, I can’t stop you.”
Conflicted by guilt and an overwhelming amount of gratitude, you take a second to think it over. Eventually, you decide to stay, but you don’t take it lightly. Your boss is thrilled to keep you on, but this is beyond anything you’ve ever heard of. You’ll never be able to look at your job, or the life it provides you, the same way again.
Therefore Jesus said again, “Very truly I tell you, I am the gate for the sheep. All who have come before me are thieves and robbers, but the sheep have not listened to them. I am the gate; whoever enters through me will be saved. They will come in and go out, and find pasture. The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.
“I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep. The hired hand is not the shepherd and does not own the sheep. So when he sees the wolf coming, he abandons the sheep and runs away. Then the wolf attacks the flock and scatters it. The man runs away because he is a hired hand and cares nothing for the sheep.
“I am the good shepherd; I know my sheep and my sheep know me— just as the Father knows me and I know the Father—and I lay down my life for the sheep. I have other sheep that are not of this sheep pen. I must bring them also. They too will listen to my voice, and there shall be one flock and one shepherd. The reason my Father loves me is that I lay down my life—only to take it up again. No one takes it from me, but I lay it down of my own accord. I have authority to lay it down and authority to take it up again. This command I received from my Father.”