Note: Read The Next Level: Part 1 first if you haven't already done so.
On Level Three, the people pride themselves in having a broader vision for the company. The General Manager explains their devotion to the "real CEO" (not the Director), a man they have never met, but know only through the "CEO's consultant." They are required to do many things to show their service and devotion to this "CEO", of which I will not go into details but just say that it sounds a lot like Islamic practices.
Each operation within the level has a different viewpoint concerning the company and each makes decisions based on that viewpoint. As the various managers explained their viewpoints to Logan, I continued to notice the trend of other religions being described. Various things they mentioned pointed to false ideas of becoming equal with God, universal harmony, nirvana, meditation, ultimate reality, karma, reincarnation, the four truths and how to eliminate suffering.
One of Logan's friends, Kyle from Level One, makes an interesting comment: "If employees lose touch with top management, I guess all sorts of conjecture starts floating around. And then people believe it and start organizing their work lives according to it." The same thing happens when we lose touch with God, if you will. We become susceptible to false teachings and ways of thinking. Not only that, but when people try by their own efforts to get to God, or reach some other state of bliss, they don't actually ever get anywhere and they never know if the things they have done are enough.
At this point, Logan has noticed the same problems on all of the first three levels: "None of them are taking directions from the top, all of them are doing their own thing, and none of them are actually contributing to the goals of the company."
Level Four on the other hand is a little more impressive at first sight, especially since they pride themselves in personally knowing the Director and Shareholder and always taking directions from them. On his tour, Logan is struck by the nice, upscale furniture and cafes that make the place more than comfortable. He also sees a "Manual review" in session, which the General Manager explains as follows: "We have a Manual written by the Director's very first direct reports. It governs everything we do, really. I don't mean the details--just the broad outlines. It sets our vision and reminds us of the heart of the Director and the Shareholder. We encourage employees to spend a lot of time getting to know it." Logan is also shown a vast auditorium for various large employee events, sessions and rallies complete with entertainment. Yep, sounds like a comfortable modern American church to me!
So there's always lots of hype and excitement on Level Four, and of course, they want to get as people as they can from the lower levels to come up to theirs. When Logan invites Kyle to come up to Level Four, he's actually turned off and can't help but notice the large amount of continuous "rededication" among employees. Although the focus is always on the Shareholder, sessions are usually based on success, self-improvement, and what the Director or Shareholder can do for you. Even with all this constant training and endless sessions, one employee has to admit that it isn't working for him and he isn't making any progress. Level Four just isn't what he expected.
Soon Logan begins to see past all the excitement, rallies, pep talks, happy faces and stuff. He notices that even with all this, the work they do is really no different from that on other levels. They claim to be happy, but they're really not. Everybody says and does all the right stuff, but what all boils down to is just a fake show.
When Logan discusses these things with the Director, he says something that I believe sums up what the problem is among so many believers today. "They want to work for the Shareholder, but by and large, work still revolves around them--what they want to do, what their goals are, whether they are getting what they want. . . . As long as they're the center, they're fooling themselves. The Shareholder's agenda is not really their own."
When Logan is given the option of working on Level Five, he makes some observations that don't really make sense to him. Each of the employees have jobs throughout the company, some of them which would be considered pretty menial tasks, others simply unusual. And yet, each one is happy in what they do. Their focus is to be a servant and to reflect the Shareholder in their work. You could say that they're the example of true Christianity in this book.
Logan can't exactly understand the concept of how Level Five operates until he meets with the Shareholder himself. The Shareholder explains it well. "In this company if you hold on to what you want for yourself, it produces loss. But if you give yourself up for the sake of the company--for myself and my son--then it produces huge profits. And you personally gain everything."
This book covered so much that it was hard to condense. It shows you what happens when people are self-focused, when they try to be good by their own efforts and rules, the problem with false teachings and religions, and the danger of a self-focused version of Christianity. It answers many tough questions and brings out some excellent points about life. I appreciate authors who write fiction like this that challenge the way we live as Christians.
Until next time, God bless!