A TESTIMONY OF PERCEPTION
BY: DAVE GARNER
MARCH 24, 2008
Many years ago I was working in a factory which made floor cleaning equipment. Before each work day I would get up, put on my blue jeans, work shirt, well worn cowboy boots or clod hoppers, my ball cap and go off to work. I looked like and perceived myself as being just like all of the other floor level employees who worked around me, just as it should have been. Over time, the longer I worked with these people, the more I identified with them in my thoughts and in my actions. One day a leadership position opened up and I saw an opportunity to make more money, so I signed up for it and got the job. Remember, the reason I signed up for the job was mainly for financial reasons, and not much else. I had five employees assigned under me in my department which I was responsible for, and I had worked side by side with every one of them at one time or another as a floor level employee.
Anyone who has ever worked in a factory knows there is an invisible line which separates the common employee from any level of management above it. The minute one takes a step up the corporate ladder, no matter how small, all of a sudden they become one of “them” and are separated from sharing in the general employee’s inner circle. What is fascinating, there always seems to be a “level” as in “us” and “them” no matter how high one climbs. A few years later I can remember the plant manager himself saying, “They (“them” – referring to the higher ups from the main office) are coming, so be prepared.” He identified himself as being one of us, as opposed to being one of the “them” who was in the extreme upper management.
Anyway, I remember the first week on my job as line manager, as being one of the most harrowing and hardest weeks I ever had to endure. I could not get my employees to cooperate with me on hardly anything. They would pick on me, argue, snuff me off, and I would have to plead with them to do certain jobs. It was a nightmare. I was desperate and began to pray and ask the Lord to give me an understanding of what was happening. I still remember the question He asked me, “What do you see yourself as?” In my thoughts and in my actions I was still just one of guys, and I acted as such. I had climbed up one rung of the ladder physically, but not mentally. I did not see myself as the line manager. In my thoughts I still believed myself to be what I always had been, one of the line workers. I did not see myself in possession of the authority or power that came with the position, so they didn’t either. However, even though I still saw myself as one of them, because I had the position, they no longer saw or accepted me as one of their own. But because I did not see myself as a leader, I was caught in that place of aloneness, transition and uncertainty, not quite in or out.
One evening after work I went into a Salvation Army Store, and setting on a table by themselves was a stack of new “Dickies” work pants and shirts and all of them in my size. The pants were those which had the crease down the center of the pants leg. I felt inspired to buy the whole stack, both pants and shirts; then I went to Wal-Mart and bought a pair of work shoes to go with them. I was determined to improve my dress code and I was going to begin wearing them to work instead of my standard attire of blue jeans, cowboy boots or clod hoppers, t-shirt and ball cap. I was not used to wearing clothes like this, but none the less, the next day I put on a pair of the pants, a button up shirt and the new work shoes, combed my hair and I left the ball cap at home and went to work. As soon as I walked in the door, I began to get jeers and snide remarks about what I was wearing from just about everyone who knew me. “Dave, trying to climb the ladder of success, are you?” “Changing the shirt and pants you wear won’t help you.” “Dave, are you trying to suck up to the boss?” There were several more, all of which were personal jabs and definitely not encouragement. I gritted my teeth and bore the remarks with all the determination and patience I could muster and pushed on through my day.
Gradually over a short period of time, the people who worked for me began to respond to me as the line manager and our assembly line became the one with the highest productivity level in the whole factory. Now, a person might say this did not happen because I started wearing different clothes, and this may be partially true, but it was the clothes on the outside which helped me change the thoughts of myself on the inside. As long as I saw myself as just one of the guys, and believed myself to be just one of the guys, I remained just one of the guys. By putting on the new clothes I prepared myself to be able to think of myself as a leader and I began to think and act like a leader, and in doing so, the people began to accept me for who I had become, not for what I had been.
Through this experience I learned a valuable lesson which has really ministered to me over the years. It’s odd, but at times I still catch myself struggling to see myself for who I really am in the Lord. In certain difficult situations and at different times, I give my thoughts room to ramble toward the negative and I have to rein them in and get refocused upon the life and peace, I know the heavenly Father has promised I could have now, in each and every moment. What I see myself as, is what I am to other people.” I have learned that I can do and be anything I have faith to do and be, and if I set my heart to accomplish a certain goal or overcome some obstacle, I must believe I can before I can achieve or receive. All I desire to be and do begins within my thoughts of who I think I am and who I think I can become and what I think I can do. Every morning when I wake up, I purposely bring my thoughts to the awareness of the goodness of His life within me and around me, in appreciation of what the Lord has made me and what His love has bestowed upon me and in me, and I strive to keep them there all of the time. I am persuaded that we all have a lot to be thankful for, past, present and future, and as I begin to exalt Him in my thoughts by acknowledging Him, I can feel His loving presence surrounding me and raising up within my being, as my faith is activated and the joy of the Lord begins to flow through my being to strengthen me.
In the times when I have allowed my thoughts to be drawn away from the positive flow of life in and around me and feel myself being swallowed up by negative circumstances, I begin to bring my thoughts into focus, He alone is my salvation in this and every present moment. I can choose to remain in the darkness, resolved to work out my own salvation, or I can choose to call upon He who is my salvation. As I open my mouth and begin to call out to Him in my despair, He is always faithful to reach out and cover me with His love; I am learning to respond quicker and quicker, before very many negative circumstances become loosed. Praise the Lord, I don’t have to perform any rituals or plead with Him anymore for forgiveness, I just need to open my heart and receive. I know He is ever ready to pour His assurance, His joy, His strength, His overcoming power into my very being any time I call upon Him. I must continually remind myself to focus my thoughts upon all which I have to be thankful for, past, present and future, resolving in my heart that the exalted “son” shining out from within me is a lot more conducive to finding peace within my heart, than focusing upon the dark clouds which try to surround me on the outside.
A TESTIMONY of PERCEPTION [Dave Garner] 3-24-08 1