This is a member of our teams experience:
This is my family’s journey. I am not saying this is what anyone else should do. I am sharing what happened to my family and hope it will encourage someone on their own journey. I will not mention our business name nor the names of our children in order to protect their privacy.
Many years ago, when our family business was awarded “Business of the Year” at the local chamber of commerce, I knew things had to change. Even though our community seemed to think we were doing everything right, I knew our values for our business and our family would not win this same award by our Heavenly Father. We were far from perfect and were actually working hard at trying to “make a living” but not really devoting time to teaching our children how to walk with God. Deep in my heart, more than anything, I wanted to be “business of the year” in God’s eyes. It was obvious we were not that. So I prayed that night for God to help us become a business for HIM.
Be careful what you pray for. Later that same year the Federal Labor Department descended upon our small family farm and retail business, and we found ourselves fighting for our lives to correct the many violations we had no idea we had been committing. After 6 months of meeting their demands, and paying thousands and thousands of dollars in penalties, back pay, and lawyer fees for our first time, non-blatant violations, we were very disillusioned by our government, and realized they will come after you if they know they can bring in big money for the government. It was a harrowing experience and visibly upsets my husband to this day. They were not kind to us, even though they were in government positions to supposedly assist us.
Since we were almost ready to hand off our business to our grown children anyway, and we decided we wanted no more to do with government “regulations” and “mandates” being imposed on small business owners, we began the process. Turning a family business over to the children wasn’t as easy as we thought it would be. If done wrongly we would end up paying the government in huge taxes just for the privilege of moving our hard earned savings and assets. So several years later, after appraisals, lawyers and trusts (all because we needed to be protected from our own government), our children were finally the official owners of the farm and the business. It would now fall on them to deal with the many regulations and taxes commonly linked to any business effort.
They still needed our guidance in deciding what directions they should take in this changing business environment. Our government wasn’t here to serve us anymore. Instead they seemed to punish any attempts at productivity. The government I knew when I started off forty years ago no longer existed for my children. Fortunately we were given about four years before the Covid-19 “pandemic” came along to establish our mission statement and clearly define standards and values we knew were important to our family and our employees. We had to ask ourselves what kind of business did we want to be for ourselves, our employees, and our customers. This in itself became a sacrificial endeavor as we sadly watched some of our family members walk away, not willing to work together within those boundaries. But in the end we knew if the rest of our family was to survive as a family and in turn our business to survive as a business, we had to make these hard decisions and set these standards for the future.
I think those soul searching painful years of making our stand and committing to remain in this new identity , actually prepared us for 2020 and the “pandemic”. Because we had gone through the hard work of not allowing any family member to gaslight, deceive, manipulate, or mentally wear us down , we recognized this pandemic for what it was and determined it would not have that power over us neither. Our power must come from our faith in God and the rights he gives us freely.
When the pandemic did arrive, our daughter and son-in-law were running the business and so anything I tell you from this point on is simply observation of how they handled government lockdowns and mandates.
We are blessed to live in a conservative state and cannot begin to imagine how our actions would’ve been challenged in a more liberal state.
Since they were considered essential, my daughter and her husband never had to close the doors of their business. I think they would’ve insisted in remaining open anyways, but they never had to face that decision. They allowed their employees to remain at home on paid leave if any of them didn’t feel comfortable coming to work. Many took that opportunity and did go home, never missing any pay. This was even before the PPP loans were offered. They made sure no one felt pressured to work in what was at that time a very scary and unsure work environment, based on what we were being told by our government and the news media. Meanwhile those who remained were not required to wear masks. Because the employees didn’t wear masks, our kids faced opposition from many customers. Reviews were left on social media that gave them a lower rating. Someone even reported the business to Osha. In turn osha sent a letter stating the store must turn in a “covid plan”. They had a deadline to submit all the changes they were going to make to their business along with photographs when changes were made. They had five days to comply. My daughter immediately replied to their demand for a plan. She didn’t allow them to intimidate her, but told them she would continue to use the same standard operating procedures she presently had in place for safety and cleanliness. She did submit a photo of yellow duct tape on the floor where customers should stand in order to be six feet away from an employee. Other than that no changes were made. Nothing more was heard from OSHA concerning this matter. They would not be intimidated by OSHA.
When customers questioned why there was no mask wearing by the employees, they simply responded “employees might have underlying health conditions that we are not aware of. We will not require them to have to explain a private matter to us, their employer, nor to you, the customers. Their reason is a private matter and we respect their decision “. Customers were also politely told by my son-in-law that if they were not comfortable with his decision for his employees, then there would be no hurt feelings if they chose not to shop with us. They were welcome to return when they no longer feared infection. We would not be intimidated by our customers.
Recently our state health department came for their normal yearly inspection. Our son-in-law was told by the inspector that the employees must wear masks. He told the inspector it’s not a law and therefore he would not be requiring them to wear one. The inspector tried to convince him it was a mandate. Our son-in-law told them this really was her opinion and not a law. He demanded the inspector show him the law. Show him the section of the penal code that specifically gave her the authority to enforce a mask mandate. She could not come up with a law and was forced to drop the matter. We will not be intimidated by the health department.
So what have we learned about ourselves and our government through this “pandemic”?
Government will take advantage of a crisis to strip our rights even when they know they didn’t really have the “laws” in place to mandate their wishes. We have learned no matter what, we must stand our ground against unwarranted power in the hands of government. The power belongs to “we the people” but if we don’t insist on keeping it, we will lose it. If we know we have the common sense, knowledge, and wisdom to run a successful business with an outstanding safety record, and we know in our hearts we have ethical practices in place that we can be proud of with our community, our employees, and our customers, then we do not have to prove anything to any government agency or any customer.
So far our stand for our right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness has gone in our favor. Will there come a day when we make this stand and we are threatened with unreasonable fines or even unwarranted shut down? If that day comes we have determined in our hearts to not be afraid of financial ruin. The same God who has blessed us in our business and has helped us to not back down is the same God who will be there when all is lost.
This is what we are certain of for ourselves (and again, this is our journey and we can only speak for ourselves) if we stand with our values in place, we may face financial losses, children walking away, and even possibly having to close down. But our faith should never be in government, nor profits, and not even family ties. It should be grounded in our faith in Jesus Christ. Are we willing to give our all to our business, employees, customers, and community but also be willing to lose it all for what is right? That’s when I think we have truly earned business of the year.
If you have read this far, thank you. I covet your prayers for our family as we take a stand for freedom in our country in this somewhat small way, through our business. Pray for the family members who have walked away, for grace in that day when they finally turn back and embrace their family once again. We devote ourselves to praying for all of you who are in this same struggle to keep our faith, families, and country alive.
~ Kathy from Texas
“Put on the full armor of God so that you can stand against the tactics of the Devil. For our battle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the world powers of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavens. This is why you must take up the full armor of God, so that you may be able to resist in the evil day, and having prepared everything, to take your stand. Stand, therefore, with truth like a belt around your waist, righteousness like armor on your chest, and your feet sandaled with readiness for the gospel of peace. In every situation take the shield of faith, and with it you will be able to extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. Take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is God’s word. Pray at all times in the Spirit with every prayer and request, and stay alert in this with all perseverance and intercession for all the saints. Pray also for me, that the message may be given to me when I open my mouth to make known with boldness the mystery of the gospel. For this I am an ambassador in chains. Pray that I might be bold enough in Him to speak as I should.”
Ephesians 6:11-20 HCSB