A Sense of Humor helps

by | Sep 29, 2009 | Leadership

It’s Tuesday, the true start of the work week. Monday’s agenda has disappeared. The hard stuff is on your plate today. Let’s be honest. Too much of yesterday was spent talking with your office “buds” about the games on Sunday; the weekend “honey-do list” that “honey didn’t do” much of; or talking about the church sermon that didn’t measure up to your impossibly high homiletic standards. Now, as the coffee cools in your cup, you’re staring at blinking message lights on your phone, a long list of un-opened emails on your computer screen, and an increasing recollection of all the tasks that you didn’t get done on Friday because you said they could all wait until Monday. But now it’s Tuesday and they’re all late.

Well, you have clicked on the right email because this week’s topic is about jumpstarting your work week with a sense of humor.

I want to refer to a story in the Bible that has always made me laugh. Actually, it’s only “in the Bible” if you read between the lines with a little creative license. But because it’s work related, that makes it all the more appropriate.

Imagine, if you will, a similarly stressful scenario as that described above. Only let’s make the scene 2000+ years ago. Joseph, the carpenter, is sweating profusely in his hot, humid workshop, trying to literally fit a square peg into a round hole. The table he put off until after the Sabbath is still not done as he sees Jaconiah, the smelly goat salesman walking up the front sidewalk. And he’s not going to be happy that his table isn’t done yet. But then again, goat salesmen are rarely happy.

Joseph wasn’t in the best of moods anyway this rainy Tuesday morning. The local Roman soldiers were particularly obnoxious to him yesterday and today was the day he was going to show his stepson how to correctly use a hammer. No pressure here. Right? He’s just about to show the one who made the universe with a spoken word how to use a hammer.

So, with the patience of Job in short supply, he begins to show his quiet brown-eyed stepson what he knows. He gives the nail a few starter taps and begins pounding with increasing force and rhythm. And as often happens when confidence makes you take your eyes off your work for a split second, the “master carpenter” hits his thumb. Now, his character keeps him quiet, though his eyes are watering profusely. But as anyone who ever did this can tell you, it’s not the first hit that hurts the most. It’s the one you do to the same thumb 10 seconds later.

Now when the second “thumb-cruncher” happens, the normally quiet carpenter drops his hammer and clutches his thumb tightly to his chest. With every tooth showing and every conceivable expletive racing to the tip of his tongue, he looks down at a pair of wide-open, brown eyes looking up at him.

What did he do? I don’t know. Read “between the lines” for yourself. What would you do?

There are several potential morals to this story. Like: Never think you can teach the sovereign creator of the universe how to use a hammer. Or perhaps: Never start a new job on a rainy Tuesday if a smelly goat salesman is waiting for his job on Monday. But I think the best take-away lesson here is to keep a sense of humor about your job. Life is short. Thumbs heal. And little brown eyes are never worth disappointing regardless of who those eyes belong to.

If you’d like a cartoon visual of my storyline, just click the red start button at the top of the page.