By: Fara Foster, Director of Communications and Community Engagement
We are employees of family-owned companies. The current stockholders of both companies are the fourth generation of the Roberts family to own Lehman-Roberts Company. Prior to being purchased by those same stockholders, Memphis Stone & Gravel Company was owned by several generations of the Smith family. Not only are our owners related, three brothers-in-law and one cousin, but numerous employees are also related by either blood or marriage.
Family is important. The earliest relationships any of us know are with our families – parents, siblings, grandparents, etc. Yet, being related doesn’t necessarily translate into strong, healthy relationships. What does?
In a word: Kindness.
Being kind requires effort and intention. Being born into a group of people does not. When you’re born, you just show up and you get the people you get.
Kindness, however, requires spending time with another person, getting to know them and what he or she is going through. It requires understanding another person and it requires that we help. In Paul’s letter to the early Christian church in Galatia, he instructed the readers to “bear one another’s burdens.”(Galatians 6:2)
Sharing burdens can mean the obvious, like helping teammates complete tasks or watching out for them while they perform duties that could be hazardous if performed alone. But, sharing burdens also means pushing aside our own agenda and investing fully in helping someone else lessen their load.
Over the summer, one of our team members took time off from work to deal with a personal matter. When he didn’t return to work as expected, it was so out of character that his co-workers were immediately concerned. One of those co-workers spent hours trying to find his friend. When he discovered the weight his friend was carrying, he enlisted help from a team of people. First, he reached out to his foreman, who reached out to his superintendent, who then reached out to his manager. That team of people combined their efforts and quickly put a plan in motion to help.
Together, they did help him, but more importantly, they let him know how much they valued him. They did it because they knew him; they knew his character and they knew he would have done the same if the tables were turned.
This is not the first time I have heard stories about our team “sharing each other’s burdens.” There was a similar occurrence in early 2017. Several years back, I also witnessed employees pooling their funds to help a co-worker who lost his home to a fire. These stories are plentiful and it’s easy to see why. I see the bond between people when I visit jobsites.
Sharing burdens requires relationships and relationships can form quickly, but they take time to nurture fully. The best relationship advice I have ever read is in another letter written by Paul:
Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of others. ~ Philippians 2:3-4