By Xing Yue, Italy
“Hello, please can I ask whether your restaurant is hiring any staff at the moment?”
“Can you speak a foreign language? Do you have work experience?”
“No, sorry, I don’t speak any foreign language and I don’t have any work experience.”
“In that case, I’m sorry. We need skilled workers, not interns at this time.”
When the telephone call ended, thoughts swirled through my mind: “Oh dear, this is the third call I’ve made today trying to find a job. If I can’t find a job, then I won’t be able to afford this month’s rent.”
My roommate saw me sigh and came over. She said, “You’re too honest. Whenever you’re asked something, you always tell the truth, and you certainly won’t find a job that way. You have to learn to bend the truth a little. When someone asks you whether or not you can speak a foreign language, you say, ‘A little.’ When they ask you whether or not you have any work experience, you say, ‘I haven’t been working long.’ Wouldn’t that be better? Secure a job first and then think about honesty!” When I heard my roommate say this, I felt a little worried, and said, “But wouldn’t that be lying? I can only say simple greetings in a foreign language, and I’ve only worked in a restaurant for one evening, so I don’t really have any work experience at all. It’s not right to say things like that.” My roommate went on, saying, “Xing Yue, you’re too stubborn! You can learn languages and store up work experience gradually as you go along. Who would know that you’ve only worked in a restaurant for one evening if you didn’t tell them? You don’t have the money for rent right now, and if you don’t hurry up and find a job, then you won’t even be able to afford to live here at all.” My roommate’s advice began to sway me, and I thought: “She’s right. When I tell the truth, no manager wants to hire me. If I lied just once for the sake of providing for myself, surely that would be OK?” But then I thought of how God enjoins us many times in His words to be honest people, to always tell the truth and not to tell lies or try to deceive people. I am a Christian, and I knew I should takeas the standards for how I live my life, for only in that way could I glorify and bear witness to God. “No,” I thought. “I’d best heed God’s words and be an honest person.”
And so, after I’d made my fourth call of the day looking for a job and had told them truthfully about my situation once again, the end result was the same as before, and I was rejected. I felt so disheartened and defeated. My roommate looked at me and, shaking her head, said, “I’ve told you what to do, but you still won’t believe me. How will you ever find a job when you don’t understand how to bend the truth?” I pondered what she’d said and thought again about how, whenever I spoke to a restaurant owner on the phone, as soon as they heard me say that I didn’t know how to do anything, they rejected me immediately, and wouldn’t even give me the chance to work a trial period. I thought to myself: “Oh dear, it seems as though I’ll really have to learn how to bend the truth if I want to find a job and support myself!”
Later, I called up another restaurant, and when the owner asked me whether or not I had any work experience and could speak a foreign language, I nervously said that I had some work experience and that I could speak a little of a foreign language. Once I’d said this, the owner immediately asked me to start work the next evening. I was ecstatic, but I was also very worried: “I can’t speak a word of the language they use in the restaurant and they’ll soon see through my ruse.” In order to keep this job, I got up the next day and began to practice the language they used in the restaurant. I don’t know what was going on with my brain, however, as the more I wanted to memorize the language, the emptier my brain got. I couldn’t even remember a single word, no matter how hard I tried. I felt a vague sense of disquiet and a feeling of self-reproach come over me, and I thought: “I’ve told a lie now, so won’t I have to keep telling lies in order to keep this lie going? I can’t speak a foreign language so the minute a customer orders something, the game will be up. When that happens, not only will I lose face, but it will have a negative effect on the restaurant’s business. But if I hadn’t lied, I wouldn’t have gotten the job at all, and then I wouldn’t be able to afford to live!”
In my pain, I said a prayer to God, seeking the answer to whether I should keep the job or quit it. Just then, God’s words came to mind: “But deceitful people do not act this way. They live based on the philosophy of Satan and their deceitful nature and substance. They have to be cautious in everything they do lest others have something on them; in everything they do, they have to use their own methods, and their own deceitful and crooked manipulation, to cover up their true face, for fear that sooner or later they’ll give themselves away—and when they do show their true colors, they try to turn things around. When they try to turn things around, there are times when it’s not so easy, and when they can’t, they start getting anxious. They’re afraid that others will see through them; when that happens, they feel they’ve shamed themselves, and then they have to think of ways to say something to retrieve the situation” (“The Most Fundamental Practice of Being an Honest Person”). As I contemplated God’s words, I reproached myself greatly. Were my current state and behavior not exactly what God was talking about? I had lied and deceived in order to achieve my goal: I clearly had no work experience, but I had told the owner that I did; I clearly couldn’t speak a foreign language but had said that I could speak a little. In doing this, had I not cheated and deceived the owner? I’d now told lies in order to have the chance to work a trial period somewhere, but when the time came and it became clear that I didn’t know how to do anything, it would have a negative effect on the owner’s business—was I not harming people by doing this? I had engaged in deception and cheating for the sake of my own interests and had caused harm to another person for my own benefit—I truly had no integrity at all! Thesaid, “But let your communication be, Yes, yes; No, no: for whatever is more than these comes of evil” (Matthew 5:37). Lies and deception come from Satan and they are detested by God. As a Christian, I should conduct myself on the level, act in a down-to-earth way, always tell the truth, and not engage in falsity or deception. Only in this way would I be able to live out a genuine human likeness, and be able to live in a totally open, honest, grounded and just way. And so, I decided that when I got to the restaurant that evening, I would tell the owner the truth.
When I met the owner that evening, my heart was racing, and I couldn’t help but worry that the owner would be angry with me when I told him the truth, and that he would say I’d deceived him. As I hesitated, the owner asked me to go clean the place and set the tables. I thought I’d get to work first and then talk to the owner later. Unexpectedly, however, once I’d finished these tasks, customers began to come in one after another, and the owner was busy taking orders and bringing them coffee. I thought to myself: “The owner is so busy that he won’t have time to hear me out. I’d best keep working, and then I’ll tell him the truth when my shift is over.” The kitchen then began to send dishes out, so I hurriedly took them to the customers. When the customers asked the names of the dishes, however, I just stared blankly and looked at the menu, but I didn’t know how to answer. When the owner noticed this, he hurried over to tell them the names of the dishes and sent me off to bring the customers’ drinks. At first, the customers only ordered mineral water and cola. Looking at the labels, I could guess which ones the customers wanted, and I managed to cope OK with it. But later, the customers began to order all kinds of different drinks, and I just stared blankly at them again. I felt so anxious standing there that my whole body broke out in sweat. Listening to the customers pressing me constantly with questions, I knew I had to tell the owner the truth, otherwise I would surely have a negative effect on his business. When I saw how full the restaurant was, however, my courage dissolved. I worried that the owner would give me a dressing down in front of everyone, and that I would find especially hard to bear. I was at a loss as to what to do, so all I could do was to hurriedly call on God in my heart.
I then thought of a passage of God’s words: “It takes courage to dissect yourself and lay yourself bare. When no one else is around, whether you pray before God, or you admit your mistakes, repent, or dissect your corrupt disposition to God, you can say whatever you want, for with your eyes closed you can’t see anything, it’s like speaking to air, and so you are able to lay yourself bare; you can then speak about whatever you thought, or whatever you said at the time, as well as your motivations and your deceitfulness. Yet if you have to lay yourself bare to another person, you may lose your courage, and you may lose your resolve to do so, because you want to save face, and so it is very difficult to put these things into practice” (“The Most Fundamental Practice of Being an Honest Person”). God’s words allowed me to understand that the reason I was unable to put the truth of being an honest person into practice was because my vanity and self-regard were too strong, and because I always wanted others to think of me and see me in a certain way. I was afraid that, if I told the owner the truth, then he would say I had deceived him in front of everyone in the restaurant, and that he would embarrass me. So as to protect my position and self-regard, time and time again I avoided telling the owner the truth, openly and frankly. The result of that was that I was unable to handle the customers and I needed the owner to come over and help me. By doing this, was I not making things worse? If I’d not valued my self-regard so highly, then I would have told the owner the truth earlier, and he would have found someone else or given me other things to do, and then I wouldn’t have been in such an embarrassing situation as I was just then. Only then did I realize that, by protecting my self-regard and not practicing the truth or being an honest person, never mind causing myself to be all in a fluster, I had also had a negative impact on the restaurant’s business. When I saw clearly the root cause and the consequences of this issue, I became resolved to let go of my self-regard and practice being an honest person. No matter what the owner might think of me or how he might treat me, I knew I had to tell him the truth.
Read more on our Christian in the Workplace page, or in the recommended articles below.