I work in the maintenance of vehicles for a non-profit organization. I’ve been doing this for seven years, but recently I’ve felt powerless when the vehicles are authorized for use by people who damage them. When I don’t give authorization, these people go to my superior to get permission to use them. I have thought many times about quitting this job, but I haven’t found another position that offers a salary like the one I have. I would like some advice on how to handle this situation.

Dear friend,

We truly hope that your superiors appreciate what an honorable and responsible man you are! Many people in your position would not care about whether or not the vehicles are being damaged. They would care about their own possessions, of course, but not about the possessions of others. Some people would even justify recklessness, believing that an organization that has various vehicles can afford to repair damages.

Your situation reminds me of a story that Jesus Christ told. It was about a man who was going away on a journey, so he entrusted his resources to his three workers. Two of the workers were responsible with what he gave them, and he rewarded them when he returned. The third worker was lazy and irresponsible with what he gave him, so the man punished him severely.(1)

There are various lessons that we can learn from this story. Jesus was making a point that all of us should be responsible in the work that we do. You obviously have taken that lesson to heart, and it grieves you that others don’t see it the way that you do.

In the matter of your job, we would encourage you to have a form that you complete every time that a vehicle is loaned out. It should have columns for identifying the vehicle, for identifying who authorized the use of the vehicle, and for any damages found upon the return of the vehicle. You will have to decide when and to whom you should give copies of the form, but keep copies for yourself. In this case, your responsibility is just to report what happens. You cannot prevent anything. That is not your responsibility. Keep accurate, unbiased records, and be ready to show those records if you are ever questioned about damages.

There are other lessons that we can learn as well from the story that Christ told. He wanted His followers to know that He would be going away and that they would be responsible for His Kingdom on earth. And He wanted His followers then (as well as His followers now) to know that He was giving them the responsibility to care for orphans, widows, the poor, and the unfortunate. But even more importantly, He wanted His followers to understand that they should tell the Good News to the entire world. The Good News is that, through God’s forgiveness made possible by His Son Jesus Christ dying on the cross for our sins, we can receive the reward of eternal life. That is the best news we will ever have to tell!

We wish you the best,

1 Mt 25:14-30