"Masters, provide your slaves with what is right and fair, because you know that you also have a Master in heaven. Be wise in the way you act toward outsiders; make the most of every opportunity. Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone."
Colossians 4:1, 5-6 (NIV)
How DID I get the inmate workers to perform at 110%, as I used to say? Well, the way to a man's heart IS through his stomach. I would occasionally serve my workers a surprise "feed." They knew I would give their special meal to the maintenance crew instead of them if I did not feel they were working to my high standards. It's amazing how a little word-of-mouth advertising got the work done in a timely manner. I would only have to give their food away once and the "rumor mill" did the rest.
When I first came to work in an institutional setting, I was told by a very wise man to handle my inmate workers in a manner which was "FIRM AND FAIR." This policy worked to build respect for me among my loyal crew. By acting with dignity, professionalism, and firmness, my crew felt safe and happy. They were glad to receive POSTED "Job Descriptions" for each work area in the huge kitchen. I placed the Job Descriptions in plastic coverings and the inmates became accountable to that piece of paper and I did not have to ride them. They KNEW what I expected from them without my constantly nagging them. Anyone NOT towing the line was fired. Simple as that! They carried their share of the work or they were off my crew. It became a privilege to work on "Boone's Boys" crew.
Now does this sound as if I had been granted some supernatural wisdom? YOU BET! The Bible is my work handbook. Consider the verses at the opening of this little article. I always prayed and praised the Lord all the way to work. I never walked through those locked gates and doors without being "prayed up." The Lord will use you to minister His love and compassion to your workers if you will just adopt this wonderful policy of "Firm & Fair." I cannot tell you how many times inmates would ask me to pray for them and a situation happening with families or some other crisis. I was very open about my faith. However, I never pushed it onto unreceptive workers. They knew I was a Christian and THEY would ask and then I was free to share with them.
Dear Brethren, whatever your working conditions, consider your work a mission field and remember you may be the first Bible some of them have ever seen. It is scary sometimes to know we are being watched to see if we live by our words or only mouth our Christianity. The Lord gave me strength to "walk the walk" and thus win over many young men, and see them blossom into motivated, upright citizens of our community. I have had the JOY of seeing some of my "former employees" worship in my church body. God bless you all. I am praying for you!
By Diane Boone, Retired Chef & member of CCF
Excerpt from an article about being A Christian in a Prison Setting
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Whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God. -1 Cor 10:31 ESV