When I was growing up on the farm in Marion County, my hands were one big callus. Even as a small child working on the farm and playing hard around barns, my hands were like “cow hide” as my mother would say. I was famous for catching bees in my hand and bringing them to my mom to “listen.” I even held wasps with no ill effect. (Now that I have “soft hands” as my wife likes to tease me, I would never try this.) The calluses protected me from the sting. The calluses developed to protect my hands from the adverse effects of friction. Tough skin develops over time to protect from the wear and tear of friction in everyday life. A blister is the effect of friction in a short time period. Friction over time builds up calluses.

In the business world that we live in, we can often become calloused. Toughness develops in our lives to protect us from the wear and tear of “friction in everyday business or work life.” In many cases this is encouraged and even admired. This toughness may protect, but it always keeps us from feeling and sensing what is happening. With Christmas so close, we just experienced a good dose of Ebenezer Scrooge on TV. In Ephesians 4:18-19, “because of the hardness of their heart; and they, having become callous, have given themselves over to sensuality for the practice of every kind of impurity with greediness.” Life in this world has the natural effect of producing a callus around our heart. Two conditions develop over time. We have a hard time having feelings — a shell or wall develops. We become self-focused or greedy. Protecting ourselves leads to being self-focused and getting what we can for ourselves — if we are not careful. The problem is that a callous at work is a callous at home or in our community. So many families are affected by this callousness, the hardness. This happens not only in business but also in relationships. Let me say that I have not met anyone at Eastern who has verbalized, “Bah Humbug!”

Our brand at Eastern is Eastern Cares. The issue for us is how to care in a business environment that encourages callous development. At Eastern, we want callused hands but a caring heart. We value caring; we value serving the best interests of others (internal and external customers). Caring is being a person of honesty, integrity and having a positive attitude. Caring is taking responsibility for living out who we are every day. As we end the old year and begin a new one, let’s work with callused hands but a caring heart.

Floyd Parker, Eastern Cares Director
Greenville, SC