In another life and in a galaxy far, far away (well, twentyish years ago, and in Provo, Utah), I worked for a largish company as its training and quality assurance guru. The company had started out small, literally in the garage of one of the owners, and had expanded to the point where, after I had worked there several years, a layer of middle management was considered advisable.
Hence the arrival of the young man whom I shall call Daryl. Daryl was a fresh graduate of BYU’s business school, a young man eager to establish his mark on the corporate world by managing the heck out of me, a technical writer, and a young woman whose particular job I can no longer remember. He intended to mold the three of us into an organization embodying and validating his own theories of management.
Daryl did this by holding meetings with the three of us – daily, sometimes twice daily, meetings where we listened to him talk about his theories. One major theory concerned “integrity,” by which he did not mean what you and I usually mean by that word (i.e., honesty, sincerity, keeping one’s promises); in his language, “integrity” meant a peculiar oneness of behavior and thought through all parts of your life. You behaved exactly the same toward your wife as you did toward your church fellows; you incorporated patterns practiced at work into your life at church; you governed your working life the same as you did the allocation of home chores. Integrity, he insisted, meant being united within yourself, with one set of actions at all times and in all places. I used to feel sorry for his wife, and grateful that his theories led him to treat her as an employee rather than me as a wife.
Did I mention that Daryl, as well as we three employees, were all LDS? Well, it was Provo, and we were.
He saw no problem with running his department as if we were a church auxiliary – we were all LDS, weren’t we? Integrity demanded oneness of action!
Our daily/twice-daily meetings opened and closed with prayer. We didn’t sing hymns, thankfully; Daryl was one who liked the sound of his own voice, certainly, but he evidently preferred the sound of his speaking voice to that of his singing voice. Or maybe it was a matter of singing being too democratic; Daryl definitely preferred the autocratic.
We did have scripture readings – not a simple “inspirational thought,” but a full-fledged sermon, by Daryl, with a message selected to inculcate the virtue of obedience. And of organization. And of deference to leaders.
Especially deference to leaders.
And not just leaders who, like kings, presidents, rulers and magistrates, had the duty of governing in a secular sense. Daryl’s integrity led him to consider all leaders — or at least those he was concerned with — as priesthood leaders. Called and sustained, not hired or elected. Leaders appointed by God, so that failure to honor them was equivalent to fighting against God.
I remember the meeting where I realized that Daryl saw his position in our company as just such a leader. He may have been hired by the company president, but that was merely worldly confirmation that he had been placed in sacred authority by God. Integrity demanded that he should exercise the same authority at work as he exercised in his elders’ quorum assignment, or in his patriarchal position at home, and he stressed that we – the lay members of his department – owed him the same respect, the same submission, the same obedience we would offer to a bishop or stake president or general authority in their spheres, and for precisely the same reasons.
That was an interesting, short, and high decibel meeting … the last such meeting we ever held. I went to the company president, who really didn’t appreciate the depth of the problem (would you, in his place? could you conceive of an employee crossing boundaries that way?), but he did tell Daryl to “knock off the religious stuff.” Our meetings became less “integrated,” as well as less frequent.
I don’t know where Daryl is today. I picture him sometimes as running a bizarre cult somewhere in the desert … except that he was anything but charismatic (the man wore pajama bottoms and flipflops to the office!), and I can’t quite imagine who would follow him anywhere. He had convinced some poor woman to marry him, though, so I’ve never quite abandoned the expectation, whenever I read about some religious commune or militia cell or other closed society, of seeing Daryl’s name in the news reports. He has his integrity, after all.