There are usually few rituals in the life of the apprentice, apart from the time spent in the marketplace, you never can tell what he will be doing at other times. Yet, there is one act he must never neglect; night devotions.
These night devotions which take the form of church service are cast in stone because of the doors they provide to dress issues beyond normal talk. At the close of the market day, when everyone is home and settled down a bit, the devotions commence in the sitting room probably before dinner lest the boys become heavy from food and sleep off in the course of the ‘sweet sermons’.
Every boss is automatically a priest, a resident senior pastor. The apprentice, one or many, must attend night devotions and sometimes morning devotions too, where the boss officiates. The boss can handle the whole process of singing, praying and ushering or he could delegate to the boys or his wife from time to time at his own discretion, but he will never delegate the sermons to anyone except in the case where he is not around, maybe traveled.
There is often an irony to this, the boss himself may not have an atom of religiosity in him, but he seizes the platform of religion with the bible as his confirmation weapon to warn his boys on the dangers of living a ‘bad’ life, especially stealing from him.
Just like organizations big and small, public and private, all have periodic meetings, the night devotion is also a form of board meeting between the boy(s) and the master, with the wife acting as the chairman or ceremonial CEO at times. It is here that the master bears his mind on observations he must have made with time as relates to the performance of his boys.
Direct or Indirect Sermons
The master in admonishing his boys will do so either by directly mentioning names and calling them out or by indirectly citing third party examples; in citing examples, it is left for the apprentice if he is smart enough to understand the message being passed at him.
There are devotional books which are used and these have topics and specific bible readings which the preacher, the master in this case, will do well to interpret. If it happens that the topic is not in tandem with the latest observation or burning issue in his heart, the master will skillfully or not blend it into his message.
The ushering is often the most dramatic moments of the devotions. Here the boss or his zealous wife makes sure that everyone in the home attends the devotions, though the little children might be allowed to stay out of the morning routine as they might still be sleeping at the early hours of the morning devotion or preparing for school.
Sleeping during devotion is an act of rebellion, a subtle affront on the boss, an indirect message that his sermon is boring and a signal that you spent the night in an interest other than the master’s own, something the boss will look into.
Finally, the night devotion is not completely a one-sided meeting, the boys have room to speak at the end of the sermon in terms of questions and contributions. The apprentice can use this opportunity to show that he’s interested in getting and doing better, that he really wants to learn and that he too has goodness in him by chipping in very short sermons. Some naughty boys use this window to throw subtle verbal punches at the master.