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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 1 – Beginner)
Topic: Illustrate the meaning of "Don't Cut off Your Nose to Spite Your Face" (without using the actual phrase or litera (02/14/08)

TITLE: The Committee
By Linda Cunningham


“Did the changes made to the training plan result in less work for you?” the President of the company asked. It was the quarterly meeting of the quality control committee and all of the executives sat around the table as actions of the past quarter were reviewed. I was not one of the executives but was part of the committee as the manager of a program that required annual, training for a sizable staff.

How should that question be answered when I knew the changes had resulted in anything BUT less work for me?

In almost five years of employment in the HR department of a mid size company I had encountered actions that could be perceived as discriminatory, unfair, and just plain rude. With more than 30 years of experience in the workplace it was becoming more difficult to feel I was contributing anything of value. Often, I worried and stressed over the possibility of losing my job at a time when the need to work had not lessened simply because I was “older” and it was still personally satisfying to face the day to day challenges.

For the past four years the full responsibility of administering a government mandated training program had been my responsibility. There had been little support from executive leadership. My experience and successes leading the program were ignored.

In the first year the company had skidded to a finish with one staff member who was suspended for non-compliance. The second year the facility once again came in just hours shy of the deadline but all staff members were compliant. The following two years had resulted in 100% compliance two weeks in advance of the deadline. Those improvements came as the result of yearly alterations and improvements based on experiential learning from the previous year. It was because of those experiences that I so easily recognized the difficulties that would result from the changes dictated by the committee.

The executive committee did not ask questions. The committee also did not request data from the previous years. The changes were dictated and the training was conducted according to the executive committee plan. The year was the most difficult training season since the first year. The work was not lessened or simplified but was made every bit as difficult as that first year.

Here I sat in a quality control committee with the question from the president on the table. Should I respond by pointing out how difficult the year of training had been? Should it be pointed out that for the first time in four years, individuals had failed to meet the training deadline?

Could I spit out the “yes” being sought by the company president?” Being a 60 year old, female, manager in a room of predominantly male executives, didn’t mean I had totally lost my mind.

“I can’t say the changes resulted in simplifying the work. The workload was about the same as in years past.”

Surprisingly my nose didn’t immediately grow and my tongue didn’t bleed from being clenched between my teeth. The response was intended to show respect to the persons who were the recognized authority figures in our company. God blessed me. I kept my job even though a “yes” was the only “right” answer in that room!

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This article has been read 399 times
Member Comments
Member Date
Jan Ackerson 02/21/08
Good example of the topic.

You can make your writing more compelling by adding more active verbs, a touch of dialogue here and there, some details to give us a sense of time and place.

Thanks for showing us how you applied this proverb in your real life!
Yvonne Blake 02/21/08
Not ever working in the business world, it was a little hard for me to follow your train of thought. I liked your reference to Pinnochio at the end.
Keep writing.
Marlene Austin02/21/08
Nice writing. :)
Joshua Janoski02/24/08
I'm new to the corporate world, but already I am beginning to see how bad decisions made by executives can hurt the company and its people.

I would have liked to see more dialogue between the woman and the men in order to make the story more engaging. However, I think the story worked ok as it was written. Keep on writing!