By Brad Dupray
For 17 of the 19 years Randy Cordell has ministered with Lakeshore Christian Church, Nashville, Tennessee, his wife, Sue Ann, has been honing her skills and working toward becoming an expert in human resource management at William Morris Endeavor Entertainment (WME), a large and diverse entertainment agency. Sue Ann now manages the Nashville office as her vocation, but her life’s passion is her relationship with Christ. She and Randy have been married 34 years and are the proud parents of two children and four grandchildren. Sue Ann has been a retreat speaker for more than 25 years and is the principal of Shine Worthy Lifestyles (www.ShineWorthy.com), providing teaching resources for women facing the challenges of today’s culture.
With so many people looking for work, how do you find just the right person?
I ask specific questions that are personality related. Questions like, “Tell me about the best job you’ve ever had.” When they tell me about it, I learn a lot about their character. What was it that made it the best job for them? When they say things like, “I was able to learn so much in that job,” “They gave me responsibilities that caused me to work hard,” or “There was a lot of variety in the job,” these are indicators that they possess good work ethic.
What is an answer you wouldn’t want to hear?
If they say, “It was so cool.” “It was so much fun.” They were probably not working that hard, just hanging out and having fun.
Where do you go from there?
I also ask about a time they made a mistake, how they handled it, and how it turned out. Their answer tells me a lot. If they take responsibility for mistakes they made—or if they blame the mistakes on others—that tells me about their character. Another question could be, “Tell me about the worst boss you ever had.” Again that tells me a lot about where they’re coming from. If their description fits the person they’re potentially going to work for, then they would not be a good match for us.
Are there Christian principles employers can use to care for their employees?
I wouldn’t call them Christian principles, I would call it “Business Ethics 101” that are based on Christian principles. Of course, integrity is going to be important no matter where you’re working—honesty, hard work, and caring for your coworkers . . . treating them with respect.
How do you work to instill good business ethics in your environment?
I try to tell everyone up front what is expected, and I try to lead by example. That’s very important to me. If we run into any situations where they’re not working according to the ethics we have in place, they get verbal warnings and written warnings, whenever possible, prior to termination.
How would you describe WME as a work environment?
We care very much about our employees. We have great team effort. Philanthropy is very important in this company, too. We try to make a difference and make this world a better place. For example, this year in Nashville we had a devastating flood. One of our employees lost everything. The company helped her in tangible ways. Her car was totaled, and the company gave her a new car as a gift. We also adopted a school that was destroyed. The employees throughout the company raised money, and the company was able to give the school a sizable check.
Is it essential that a person is happy in his job?
I don’t think it’s essential. I think it’s a choice.
A choice of the employee? How so?
Yes. I’ll tell you how I choose to be happy. I decided years ago that I work for God, and whatever job I’m in, I do my very best because my boss is God. So I try to base my everyday decisions on what he says in his Word. One of the things he tells us to do is to serve others and to work as if we’re working for him in every situation. That’s what gets me through a lot of things in my day. I try to make a difference, so when people see me they see Christianity as something they would like to be a part of—not as a turnoff.
How do you strike a work/life balance?
It can be challenging. One of the things I try to do is to be very focused on what’s most important in my life. My job is the way I make my living, but it’s not my life. My walk with the Lord is my life, which allows me to keep focused and balanced by remaining active in church activities as well. In other words, I try to have fun and not take life too seriously.
How can an employee express Christian faith on the job?
I just try to live by example with every situation that comes up. I try to handle myself as a good Christian role model. I’m not always perfect, but I try. The main thing is to enjoy life and keep your relationship with God where it needs to be. He’ll give you the guidance and courage needed. Showing genuine concern for others will usually diffuse hostile behavior.
How have you been able to express your personal faith?
I’m known throughout the company as a woman of faith. I’m not out there preaching. I don’t even a have a Bible in my office—on purpose—because I don’t want to be intimidating. When coworkers who are going through tough times contact me, I tell them that I believe in the power of prayer and let them know that I will be praying for them. As a Christian in the secular workforce, the most important thing is to be positive. Don’t be a whiner. Don’t be a complainer. Other people are watching to see how you react to every situation. I want to be a blessing, not a burden!
Brad Dupray is senior vice president, ministry development, with Church Development Fund, Irvine, California.