It has been said that who you are when no one is looking is who you really are.

It’s in that quiet place that things like character, values, integrity and faith are forged.

I am not all that I aspire to be in my private world and would be highly embarrassed if some of my hidden thoughts, attitudes and actions were broadcast for all to see. I’d like to think I’m a work in progress, and part of my inspiration comes from a man who once worked for my father.

My dad owned a shop-fitting business in Melbourne, Australia in the 1960’s and 70’s. During that time he employed a man called John to do much of the assembly and installation work. It was an intensely practical role and as a kid I had the privilege of working alongside this quietly-spoken, conscientious man as a way of earning some extra pocket money over the school holidays.

John’s work ethic was impressive and this had a significant impact on me. He was hard-working, thorough and completely dependable. He didn’t complain about any job that was sent his way. He used his initiative and he went the extra mile. He never abused the breaks that were given to him. Dad would often come home praising the outstanding performance of such a valued employee.

Knock off time was 5 pm but Dad came to observe that John would typically leave half an hour later, but never claim the extra time. Dad took special note of John’s end of day routine and found that he would always work right up to 5 pm. He would then spend the next half hour cleaning up his work area to a spotless standard.

When Dad asked him about this, John humbly explained that because of his faith, he was always conscious of another pair of eyes observing his life. Spending his own time tidying up was a personal act of worship. Dad was John’s boss, but God was John’s Master.

Did this largely hidden demonstration of integrity at work make an impression on anyone?

It certainly made an impression on me.

Decades later, John’s daily routine forces me to confront the “Who are you?” question; and challenges me to keep on paying attention to those places in my life that only God and I see.

Photo: leonardodesign/