I'd Like to Speak to the Manager - Introduction

Series: My Preaching Bucket List

April 08, 2018
Brad Shockley

Episode Notes

As many of you know by now I grew up in the grocery store business. When I was in first grade or so my dad bought and ran the main grocery store in the one block town of Rockford, Alabama. Later he would buy and run that convenience store in Equality, Alabama, I talked about last week. And in addition to that, years before and after he was a manager in the Belk Department store chain. So it’s no surprise I got my adult start in life doing the retail thing.

At the age of 19, I walked into the Sears at Madison Square Mall in Huntsville, Alabama, looking for a job. Glenn Cagle, manager of Men's and Children's, was sitting at his desk that day when I came in. He was so desperate for workers he was willing, and I quote, to hire anyone breathing.

I guess my background paid off because six months later he made me a supervisor, and a year or so after that I landed assistant manager of Brand Central, and then not long after that, they let me be the manager of the Women's, Jewelry, and Shoe departments. At the age 21, I was over a quarter of the store and managed 21 women. I’ve often said that was preparation for ministry.

The stories I could tell. Everyone ought to be required to work in retail for one year, just because. One thing stands out in my time at Sears: it was the day a little gal working in shoes called me over.

A customer had been given a rain check on a particular shoe we on sale but was out of stock. She was promised they’d be ordered, and she’d get a call when they came in. Supposedly we had called confirming their arrival, but that little gal working in shoes could not find them; she couldn’t even find any evidence we had ever ordered them in the first place.

This may be a surprise to you, but our customer got impatient, acting ugly, and in her frustration pulled out that ace card all customers do when they get like that: “I’d like to speak to the manager.”

That’s where I came in. Sure enough, we had no record of this woman getting a rain check or us ordering shoes. She got even angrier. I was incompetent. Sears was incompetent. She was never shopping there again. I promised to do some research and get back to her.

On break, I got to thinking. There were two main anchor stores in that mall, at opposite ends, Sears and JC Penneys. Hmm. I walked down to Penneys and found the shoe department. A pretty little blonde haired gal with glasses was working there - and I remember that because I was painfully single at that time. I asked if they had special ordered a shoe for Mrs. So-and-so and guess what? They had!

Oh, this was going to be good. I’d be lying if I told you I didn’t get a ton of joy making a phone call that day.

That was just one of many times I was called over at Sears because someone said, “I’d like to speak to the manager.”

Now, here’s the thing about managers. They don’t own what they manage, do they? A manager, by definition, oversees someone else’s (a company’s or organization's) resources. They are put in charge of things that don’t belong to them, and they are expected to manage them the way the one who owns those things would.

Believe it or not, that’s a very Biblical concept, though it goes by a different name. In the Old Testament and the New, we encounter the idea of a steward. 

A steward was a servant put in charge of a master’s household. He didn’t own anything he had charge over, but he managed it the way his master would. He was expected to be loyal and faithful.

The greatest example of a steward in all the Bible is a fellow named Joseph. He was one of twelve brothers, all sons of Isaac. It was from these sons the twelve tribes of Israel would come.

Joseph was his father’s favorite; Jospeh knew it, and that caused problems. His brothers became so bitter towards him one day they sold him to slave traders, telling his father animals had torn him to pieces while out in the fields. Let’s pick up the story in…

Genesis 39:1–6 (ESV) — 1 Now Joseph had been brought down to Egypt, and Potiphar, an officer of Pharaoh, the captain of the guard, an Egyptian, had bought him from the Ishmaelites who had brought him down there. 2 The Lord was with Joseph, and he became a successful man, and he was in the house of his Egyptian master. 3 His master saw that the Lord was with him and that the Lord caused all that he did to succeed in his hands. 

Instead of being bitter, or giving up, Joseph made the best of a bad situation.

4 So Joseph found favor in his sight and attended him, and he made him overseer of his house and put him in charge of all that he had. 5 From the time that he made him overseer in his house and over all that he had, the Lord blessed the Egyptian’s house for Joseph’s sake; the blessing of the Lord was on all that he had, in house and field. 6 So he left all that he had in Joseph’s charge, and because of him he had no concern about anything but the food he ate. Now Joseph was handsome in form and appearance.

Joseph managed Potiphar’s possessions as if he were the owner. If somebody said, “I’d like to speak to the manager,” Joseph showed up. He was good and trustworthy, Potiphar only had to worry about what was for dinner. Joseph would have made a good wife.

Now that last little part of verse 6 is important. He was handsome in form and appearance. It means he was some serious eye candy. Or as I heard one lady tell a fellow, “My, you’re a tall glass of water.”

Potiphar’s wife noticed Joseph and tried incessantly to start something with him. Joseph, being the amazing steward he was, refused saying…

Genesis 39:8–10 (ESV) — 8 But he refused and said to his master’s wife, “Behold, because of me my master has no concern about anything in the house, and he has put everything that he has in my charge. 9 He is not greater in this house than I am, nor has he kept back anything from me except you, because you are his wife. How then can I do this great wickedness and sin against God?” 10 And as she spoke to Joseph day after day, he would not listen to her, to lie beside her or to be with her.

You can guess what happened. Joseph refused her one too many times and she got fed up. She accused him of raping her out of spite, so Potiphar had him thrown into prison.

Once again, instead of being bitter or giving up, he made the best of a bad situation…

Genesis 39:22–23 (ESV) — 22 And the keeper of the prison put Joseph in charge of all the prisoners who were in the prison. Whatever was done there, he was the one who did it. 23 The keeper of the prison paid no attention to anything that was in Joseph’s charge, because the Lord was with him. And whatever he did, the Lord made it succeed.

Joseph managed the jail as if he were the chief jailer. If someone said I’d like to speak to the manager, Joseph showed up.

While in prison he befriended two former servants of Pharaoh, interpreting their dreams (a special gift God gave him). The cupbearer would be restored to his position and the baker would not.

One day, years later, when the pharaoh had troubling dreams, the cupbearer remembered Joseph and had him brought in. He did such a good job of interpreting the dreams (something pharaoh’s interpreters could not do), he got a massive promotion…

Genesis 41:38–44 (ESV) — 38 And Pharaoh said to his servants, “Can we find a man like this, in whom is the Spirit of God?” 39 Then Pharaoh said to Joseph, “Since God has shown you all this, there is none so discerning and wise as you are. 40 You shall be over my house, and all my people shall order themselves as you command. Only as regards the throne will I be greater than you.” 41 And Pharaoh said to Joseph, “See, I have set you over all the land of Egypt.” 42 Then Pharaoh took his signet ring from his hand and put it on Joseph’s hand, and clothed him in garments of fine linen and put a gold chain about his neck. 43 And he made him ride in his second chariot. And they called out before him, “Bow the knee!” Thus he set him over all the land of Egypt. 44 Moreover, Pharaoh said to Joseph, “I am Pharaoh, and without your consent no one shall lift up hand or foot in all the land of Egypt.”

Joseph started out as steward of a rich man’s household. Then became steward of a king’s prison. He ended up steward of the most powerful, most wealthy kingdom in all the civilized world at that time. Joseph managed Egypt as if he were pharaoh. If someone said I’d like to speak to the manager, Joseph showed up.

Because he did such an outstanding job, thousands upon thousands were saved from starvation when a famine swept the land.

Joseph truly is a prime example of a steward in the Bible and all of history.

At this point you may ask, what has that got to do with us?

To answer that, let’s take a look at Genesis 1:1…

Genesis 1:1 (ESV) — 1 In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth.

Would be fair to say, based on that truth, God made it all? I mean, he made all there is, including us. 

Now look at…

Psalm 145:16–17 (ESV) — 16 You open your hand; you satisfy the desire of every living thing. 17 The Lord is righteous in all his ways and kind in all his works.

From that verse we can declare God sustains it all. He holds all things together by His will. He causes the sun to shine and the rain to fall and trees to produce oxygen, all necessary for sustaining life.

Now look at…

Psalm 24:1–2 (ESV) — 1 The earth is the Lord’s and the fullness thereof, the world and those who dwell therein, 2 for he has founded it upon the seas and established it upon the rivers.

From this verse we conclude God owns it all.

That makes sense, doesn’t it? If God made it all, he’s responsible for sustaining it all, which makes him owner of it all.

If that’s true, then do we really own anything? Especially as Christians, can we say anything belongs to us?

You might be thinking, “I worked for everything I have. I earned it with sweat and hard work.” 

Who provided the raw materials for all you made or did? Did you make the air you breathed? Did you make the resources you used? Did you make the sun rise or rain fall or blood flow through your own veins?

King David, in collecting the materials needed to build a temple for God said…

1 Chronicles 29:10–14 (ESV) — 10 Therefore David blessed the Lord in the presence of all the assembly. And David said: “Blessed are you, O Lord, the God of Israel our father, forever and ever. 11 Yours, O Lord, is the greatness and the power and the glory and the victory and the majesty, for all that is in the heavens and in the earth is yours. Yours is the kingdom, O Lord, and you are exalted as head above all. 12 Both riches and honor come from you, and you rule over all. In your hand are power and might, and in your hand it is to make great and to give strength to all. 13 And now we thank you, our God, and praise your glorious name. 14 “But who am I, and what is my people, that we should be able thus to offer willingly? For all things come from you, and of your own have we given you.”

The Bible teaches us we have nothing that was not given to us by God. When we give to God, we are just giving him what was already his.

Charles Spurgeon said, “No man has anything of his own, except his sins.” 

John Wesley said, “The Possessor of heaven and earth placed you here, not as a proprietor, but as a steward.”

I know, I’m not preaching now, I’m meddling. This hits me harder than all of you, trust me.

Conclusion: A French Abbott living hundreds of years ago wrote…

"Go out into

the field of your Lord and

consider how even today it abounds

in thorns and thistles

in fulfillment of the ancient curse.

Go out, I say, into the world,

for the field is the world and it is

entrusted to you.

Go out into it not as a lord,

but as a steward, to oversee and to

manage that for which you must

render an account.

Go out, I should have said, with

careful responsibility and

responsible care."

If God made it all and sustains it all, He owns it all. Which means, then, ultimately, whatever we have belongs to him. Which then means we are what?


Which in turn means, if someone says, “I’d like to speak to the manager,” who needs to show up? We do.

The Bible teaches we are stewards, managers, of six resources owned by God but put in our care.

  1. His bodies
  2. His time
  3. His gospel
  4. His grace gifts
  5. His money
  6. His creation

With Joseph as our model, we’ll wrestle with these things over the next few weeks in my preaching bucket list series.

One last thing regarding Joseph as we close. After Joseph was reunited with and restored to his brothers, they worried one day he’d use all his power as the right hand of Pharaoh to get revenge. He assured them he would not…

Genesis 50:20 (ESV) — 20 As for you, you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good, to bring it about that many people should be kept alive, as they are today.

He reminds us of Jesus who is the true and better Joseph who, at the right hand of the king, forgives those who betrayed and sold him and uses his new power to save them.

And what Satan meant for evil, God used for good that many might be saved through Jesus offering himself up for us on the cross.

Content Copyright Belongs to Pleasant View First Baptist Church