I have really appreciated Patrick Morley’s book “A Man’s Guide to Work”. Along with Gene Veith’s books, these make some great observations about our faith life in Christ being as much a part of our Christian life as church. Too often we, may, be at church on Sunday, then Monday in full world’s mode in our work life. It is difficult to distinguish our faith life and our work life, we should be integrating them when we are really compartmentalizing them. We can’t continue to do this, we have to stand up as Christians in the workplace especially when the world continues to marginalize Christians.
Part of that effort needs to be in terms of how we actually work. Too often we fall into the world’s mold of mediocrity, we do what we have to do by spending the minimum amount of time and effort on our part. Clock hits 5pm and we’re out the door? At the minimum we are being paid for 8 hours, it better be 8 and maybe five minutes more, at least. Wasting time and effort is not a good stewardship witness to our employer or our fellow workers. We can certainly be an example that, as Christians, we are serious about our work life and want that to be a witness to Jesus too.
Morley makes an interesting observation on the Parable of the Talents, Matthew 25: 14-30 (p 31) to show that we have been entrusted with our work/vocation by God too and mediocrity is just not acceptable. Quoting Morley: A wealthy man has three employees. To the first one he gives what is about $60,000 in today’s money. A meaningful amount of money.
Like any of us, if we are entrusting money or any other asset to someone else what are we expecting? For that person to make money for us, n’est ce pas? If they don’t and granted quite often they don’t, then we are not going to be satisfied and we really shouldn’t be. To the second employee he gave $24,000, again a material amount of money. To the last he gave $12,000. Still a material amount, but five times less than the other guy, apparently this employer kind of knew something, and you know what, Jesus knows about us and what He’ll trust us with, but the employer still entrusted the employee with a substantial amount.
Whether it’s the end of the month, quarter, half-year, year-end, the employer comes back and is looking for their reports. Now the first two guys, wow, they doubled the employers money. Wow! We would all take that kind of return now wouldn’t we? Hopefully both of those guys are Christians and since the Lord is relating this parable, I’d like to assume they not only made that money by honest means and, to go even further as we should as Christians, with integrity as a witness to the Lord. Don’t want any Bernie Madoffs here.
Now the last employee, he decided, for whatever reason that well he was afraid, he was lazy, he didn’t want to fail, blah, blah, there are always excuses. Is that what you want when you get your report from someone handling your money? For that matter, do you want to be the guy always making excuses. No on both counts, you want a respectable return, I’m sure you’re paying this person and now they’ve just handed back to you a respectable amount of money and said “see, I’ve kept your money safe for you.” Ya, well, I could have probably found a cheaper way if I was just looking for safe. But that’s what we get for so many people in today’s world, “well at least I didn’t lose anything”. Brother I could have opened a 2% CD and gotten a little back, with you all I got was grief and aggravation. Morely quotes “The Message Bible” quoting Jesus as saying: “…And get rid of this ‘play-it-safe’ who won’t go out on a limb. Throw him out into utter darkness.” You know what Jesus is serious about what we do.
Yes I’m sure there are those out there who are utterly horrified that Jesus would be so harsh. Hmmmm, you mean the guy who was tortured, beaten, nail to a cross, humiliated and left to die, that we should expect to only give Him back, at best, mediocrity? He gave His best, but it’s OK, I’m not even going to give you back anything respectable. A bagful of beans for the man who gave His all. Shocking, right? But wow, we do it all the time. We won’t go out on a limb for Him, we can’t even sacrifice a tiny little bit of our precious dignity to step out and tell someone all about Jesus and what He has done for me. Oh, no, the guys on the soft-ball team might think I’m kind of a twit while they’re swilling beer.
It’s about integrity and being serious. Too much of the world is about going through the motions, maximizing what’s in it for me, in the third employee’s case, it was about minimizing his time and effort and making more time for that beer swilling softball game, that’s just so much more important then integrity at work or integrity in Jesus.
Yea, maybe all the cool kids try to show how cool they are by ripping off their employers, standing around when you could be doing something (oh that’s not my job). What makes you think it was Jesus’ job to go through all He went through for us? As those who are faithful to Him who has been so faithful to us, how can we not give our best in everything we do? I know, I get it, sometimes it does feel like you’re running on fumes, and Jesus is there to care for you in the difficult times as much as He is to motivate us. We certainly can look to Jesus for motivation in whatever we do, but mediocrity, lack of integrity, trying to get more than you give are not acceptable to Him who gave all. As Christians we are to be the stand up guys, and you know what, you will be misunderstood, you will be mocked by your co-workers, but they will also have a model that they can’t deny. At some point it is on them, is this a game where you keep being mediocre or is it for real and it is all about your best effort and how you serve your organization, your fellow workers, your family, your community, your Lord and Savior. Ya, go ahead and mock, but I’m going with living my life to the best of my ability in all the areas of my life. For those who want to lead that mediocre life, I really don’t understand how you can expect the best from others and how you can look yourself in the face. But you do. Let’s be great Christian brothers and strive to go far above what anyone expects. You will fall short, it won’t always work out the way you planned, but no one can say that it was for your lack of trying.
You are welcome to come and discuss further, your suggestions about building a group that is looking to be faithful to Jesus in our worklife are welcome. Right now we have a small group that meets at the coffeeshop at the corner of W King and Beaver Sts in York, Pa. We meet on Wednesdays at 10am, all are welcome, park right behind the church at 140 W King St. I will even buy you your first cup of coffee! See you there.