Work Matters: Lessons from Ben

Ben Jodice was my first Christian boss in a non-ministry setting. He was a professional painting contractor and hired eager college and seminary students from his local church during the busy summer months. I was both new to the church and the vocation of painting, but because I was recommended to him by someone in the church he took me on. I learned a lot from Ben, much of which has stayed with me to this day, now more than three decades later.

As I was doing some painting in our home recently, I reflected on the lessons Ben taught me, all of which have transference to my daily work today.

1. Tools – having the right tools for the job at hand are essential to completing the work in a timely, professional manner. The brushes, rollers, extension poles, drop clothes, scaffolding and ladders all needed to be top quality and in excellent condition for the work of each team member.
2. Products – never believing it was good to scrimp on using the best on the market, we routinely stopped by the local paint shop to pick up top quality products to aid us in preparing, painting and clean up.
3. Preparation – in order to have the properly finished look for that which was to be painted, each painter needed to know how to prepare the surface and surroundings before opening and distributing any paint.
4. Safety – even if it took extra time, it was always essential to remember to work safely and carefully. Often we were working from high places, on wobbly ladders, and it was important to have spotters in place to ensure proper balance and protection. Any possible accidents needed to be avoided at all cost.
5. Breaks – taking short breaks mid-morning and afternoon, as well as an extended time for lunch mid-day were non-negotiables for our crew. Ben believed it was important to recalibrate throughout the day and taking breaks from the labor were important for each worker.
6. Limits – never taking on more than we could reasonably handle in a day, our gracious boss would set reasonable goals for the crew to accomplish. Knowing one’s limits helps to manage expectations for the leader and the team.
7. Enjoyment – making sure everyone was enjoying the challenge of the task at hand was a continual priority for Ben. He had a gentle and dry sense of humor and would come alongside each of his staff to make sure they were doing well throughout the workday. If not, he would inquire and respond in a gracious manner.
8. Clean up – we never left a site in a mess, even if we were returning to the same place the following day. The discipline of cleaning up after yourself was routine and disciplined so that the respect for property could be well maintained.
9. Integrity – standing above us at all times was the banner of service, the character of the person, the integrity of the team, and the general sense that who we are matters as much as the quality of our workmanship. Never compromising on honesty, reliability, and trustworthiness, Ben’s business was never dented by himself or members of his work force for lack of integrity.

Ben never felt the need to be overtly vocal about his faith. His work was done to the glory of God and the goodness of others. I’m grateful for the summers I had the privilege of working for Ben Jodice. Not only am I a better painter today, but hopefully have been even more effective in transferring these nine fundamentals into my current workplace wherever appropriate. I’m grateful for the foundation Ben helped to forge in my heart, mind, and work.

These nine simple lessons have been carried into my daily routines as a minister of the Gospel, a leader of a ministry team, and on the homefront in the work I do for my family. As I was journaling about my time on Ben’s team I reflected on these simple verses, “Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters, since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward. It is the Lord Christ you are serving,” Colossians 3:23,24.

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