Tag Archives: employment

What Will Work Be Like in the New Heaven and Earth? Russell Gehrlein October 12, 2017

In your job today, you will likely experience the “thorns and thistles” that have come as a result of the Fall; the reality is that work will be difficult until Christ returns. But what happens to work when Jesus comes back, and Adam’s curse from Genesis 3:16-19 is no more, as it states in Revelation 22:3: “No longer will there be any curse”?

Here are some key points worth considering:

  • At the consummation of all things, Christians and the earth will be fully redeemed (Rev. 21:1-5)
  • Many aspects of human work will continue in the New Jerusalem (Isa. 65:21-23)
  • It may even include the best of human culture and achievements, past, present, and future such as the wheel, Handel’s “Messiah,” food, architecture, roads, government, technology, etc. (Rev. 21:24, 26)
  • There will be no more need for doctors, lawyers, counselors, or wheelchair manufacturers

If we understand that some of the things we do now could be carried over into eternity, it can radically change our attitudes and actions in our work. It means it has eternal value.

Tom Nelson, in Work Matters: Connecting Sunday Worship to Monday Work, states,

If our daily work, done for the glory of God and the common good of others, in some way carries over to the new heavens and new earth, then our present work itself is overflowing with immeasurable value and eternal significance.

In plain terms, we need to see the huge impact of the great reversal of the curse, where sinless humanity and its relationship to work are restored to pre-Fall conditions.

Focus on the New Creation

Just imagine what our work could be like in the New Creation without the pain, frustration, stress, difficulty, unpredictability, sweat, and interpersonal conflict between sinners that we currently experience in our labor due to the Fall.

The possibility that there will be work for us to do is implied in the scriptures. The prophet Micah suggests that we don’t just lay down our weapons, we will pick up instruments of work: “They will beat their swords into plowshares and their spears into pruning hooks” (Mic. 4:3).

If there is work, it will not seem like it, as the quality of workers and the workplace will be fully restored. There will be no corrupt leaders, workaholism, unemployment, sexual harassment, racial discrimination, greed, exploitation of workers, etc., that exist in a fallen world. We will no longer experience the power or the presence of sin. Work relationships will not be characterized by conflict, but by peace, fellowship, and unity. The hopeless message of vanity of Ecclesiastes 1 will vanish. There will be no meaninglessness in life and work “under the sun” because we will all be “under the Son.”

Revelation 21:1-5 gives us a description of what to expect at the consummation, after Jesus returns and the judgment of Satan and his followers is complete. You can see that contrary to popular belief, heaven is not a place of disembodied spirits playing harps up in the clouds. The New Jerusalem will come down to earth, where God will dwell for all eternity with those whose names are found in the Lamb’s book of life and where there will be no more death or sadness or pain.

Michael Wittmer, in Becoming Worldly Saints, reminds us that God’s future plan is not destruction, but restoration:

God did not say, “I am making new everything!” but rather “I am making everything new!” He does not promise to make new things to furnish the new earth, but to renew the things that are already here.

Paul Stevens, in Work Matters: Lessons from Scripture, agrees, “Our final destiny is not a workless utopia but a renewed world in which we will work with infinite creativity and fulfillment.”

Nelson concurs: “Your work in the new creation will be even better than it was in the old creation. God has a great future in store for his image-bearing workers.”

In his book, The Heavenly Good of Earthly Work, Darrell Cosden ponders more specifically what our work will be like,

Our sanctified imaginations can only suggest what we think God’s promise to make all things new might mean…There will be, no doubt, some specific products of our work that through judgment will be transformed and incorporated into the “new physics” of the new creation. I am quite hoping that Handel’s Messiah will be regularly in concert in the New Jerusalem.

Wittmer suggests that Bach and Michelangelo will be there with time to create even better works.

What Kind of Work Will We Do?

This is only my biblically informed speculation, but it appears to me that there will be two categories of jobs that we will not find anywhere in the eternal kingdom.

  1. There will be a small number of obvious jobs that will no longer exist because evil is no more (e.g., pimps, hit men, counterfeiters, porn film directors, and drug dealers).
  2. However, there will be a much larger number of jobs that will no longer exist because they are no longer needed since fallen humanity and the Earth have been restored. While the eternal value of the earthly work remains, these types of jobs and career fields will be unnecessary in the New Jerusalem: morticians, law enforcement, light bulb manufacturers, lawyers, doctors, wheelchair manufacturers, psychologists, and many more. Those that served in these areas will likely continue to apply their unique design to work that is needed.

Stevens writes that our future work will be all that God originally designed it to be—fulfilling,

Work in the new heaven and new earth will be all that good work was intended to be. Perhaps what we will be doing is what we have done in this life but without the sweat and frustration experienced here…Since there will be no curse on work, the workplace, or the worker, labor will be personally and completely satisfying, far more than was obtainable in this life.

Although there are a lot of unanswered questions about the nature of our work for all eternity, these insights should still give us a tremendous amount of hope. They should cause us all to reflect on Paul’s words of encouragement in the context of his teaching on the bodily resurrection of believers: “Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain” (1 Cor. 15:58).

 

Editor’s Note: Learn more about the eternal value of work in All Things New: Rediscovering the Four-Chapter Gospel by Hugh Whelchel. 

Sponsoring children through Christian organizations really works

My wife and I sponsored a child in Indonesia for a number of years, until he turned 18 and started his life. It was interesting to get mail from him and to write back and to learn about him, his family and life in Indonesia. It would be great to hear back from him. Life kind of got in the way with us, four years of active duty, four years of seminary and over four years getting started in ministry kind of got us off that track. Based on the following we should get back on track. Based on the following from Christianity Today, these sponsorship programs do work. (Bruce Wydick June 2013 pp 22, 23)

The study was done on Compassion International that dates back to the time of the Korean War. The organization started in the United States, was set up to support Korean children during and after the war.

“…In all six countries , we find that sponsorship results in better educational outcomes for children. Overall, sponsorship makes children 27 to 40 percent more likely to complete secondary school and 50 to 80 percent more likely to complete a university education. Child sponsorship also appears to be the great equalizer in education: In areas where outcomes are worse, such as sub-Saharan Africa, impacts are bigger. In countries where existing outcomes aren’t as bad, like in India and the Philippines, impacts are significant but smaller. In countries where existing outcomes are higher among boys, the impact on girls is larger; in counties where the existing educational outcomes are higher for girls, the impact on boys is larger. We even find some evidence for spillover effects on the unsponsored younger siblings of sponsored children.”

While Compassion does sort of shepherd things while the child is in school, there are very interesting results after school. “…when the child grows up, he is 14-18 percent more likely to obtain a salaried job, and 35 percent more likely to obtain a white-collar job. Many of the Compassion-sponsored children become teachers as adults instead of remaining jobless or working in menial agricultural labor. We found some evidence that they are more likely to grow up to be both community leaders and church leaders.”

I believe that the biggest crisis in America is the lack of hope. As most of society becomes functionally atheistic, and rejects the notion of anything after life; the more that society basis their expectations on the material, that which is easily destroyed, can easily malfunction, be lost. In all our affluence, we find more and more that the material just does not satisfy and the more we lose hope. Compassion is giving hope to children who live in much more dire circumstances than you can often imagine: “…In each of the studies, we found that sponsored children consistently had significantly higher expectations for their own schooling than unsponsored children, even when controlling for family and other factors…. Many of these findings came close to mirroring the adult differences we measured between formerly sponsored children and nonsponsored children.”

That is they are given hope in the here and now, hope that those around them probably don’t know. And since Compassion is a Christian organization, they are also getting the hope of eternal life in Jesus. So based on this article, my personal experience, I highly recommend this as something that your family could do, your children’s class, groups, sports teams. Yours or your spouses groups, Bible study classes. Cost of sponsorship is usually around $35 per month. Not exactly big bucks for us, but a whole new life, filled with hope for a child that lives in a place that is so deprived, so lacking in hope.

Unemployment it’s especially hard during the holidays. Enjoy the holidays, but on Monday try this

I have developed a heart for those dealing with unemployment. I worked in corporate finance for twenty years and went through my share of. Corporate challenges  I do know the drill. If you are dealing with this I am sure you have been working hard, doing all the things that are recommended and still keeping a great attitude. I would certainly encourage you to keep trusting in God, looking for His will and trusting that he is moving you where you should be.  I truly hope that you will take your foot off the pedal for Thanksgiving and Christmas. Keep a positive attitude, keep regular hours do what you can do but take time to enjoy family and friends to let a group like ours give support, for your pastor to encourage and give comfort. I know how you’re feeling and you need to stop beating yourself. This time of year is particularly tough for two groups, those who have lost a loved one and those who are unemployed. Please be with brothers and sisters in Jesus and enjoy their support. If you are in the York, Pa area and we can provide support of clothing, food, fellowship, please don’t hesitate to contact me at bm2driskell@aol.com.

Now something to think about for next week, maybe you’re kind of in a rut so try this. This is something we suggest to people in the group we facilitate, but now it is backed up with professional opinion. The following is from “Men’s Health” Jul/August 2014 page 20:

“Donating your time really will help you get ahead. In a study in the “Journal of Career Assessment”, unemployed people who volunteered weekly were far more likely to have a job within six months than those who didn’t lend a hand. Even those who volunteered less than two hours a week had a better shot at being hired elsewhere, says Varda Konstam PhD, the study’s lead researcher. The key word here is “elsewhere”. The ability to ladle out soup doesn’t mean you’re qualified to work only in a cafeteria. Interviewers are increasingly viewing such basic skills as indicators of broader skill sets. That means serving soup isn’t about serving soup; it shows that you’re good at customer service and work well with others. Try telethons to show off your sales and marketing tactics  or find another opportunity in your area at volunteermatch.org ”

i have seen at least two people in our group end up with really great positions by following this advice. One other note we are more and more seeing ages forty and over with this group. Either they’re the only ones taking the initiative to be part of such group or it’s hitting older workers. I’d be willing to be a combination of both. Any discussion on that would be appreciated we would like to get better in this area and input would be appreciated. Again Happy Thanksgiving and God bless.

Our identity is in Jesus, not in our job title/description

AJ Sherrill is the pastor of Trinity Grace Church in Manhattan, NY. In an earlier post I wrote about New York City being the unhappiest metropolitan area in the country. I haven’t seen any research, but NYC is the hub of those who seek to make their fortune. Let’s face it only so many are going to do that, the vast majority are going to fall short. When you’ve staked everything on achieving what only a few will realize, the result will usually be unhappiness, or however else you want to characterize the despondency associated with “failure”.
May sound a little harsh and I’m not saying that is my perception, but it is the perception of many in the world, particularly those people that supposedly “matter”. When we have staked everything on our “success”, it leaves very little room for anything else in our life; family, integrity, self-fulfillment, God.
Pastor Sherrill quotes Abraham Kuyper (Leadership Journal Summer 2014 p84), “the 20th century Dutch journalist, theologian and politician. His famous proclamation, ‘There is not a square inch in the whole domain of our human existence over which Christ, who is sovereign over all, does not cry: Mine!” “…is the reminder that should resound in the ears of every Christian in the workforce.”
Let’s face it, that is not the case. As soon as most of us hit the threshold at church, we have to beat the Baptists to “Country Buffet”, get home for football and then try to relaxe before we get back to the “real” world on Monday. Hey I’m not disputing that you have to work hard and focus on your career. I’ve never said you shouldn’t, but when you become so immersed, may I even say obsessed, you lose your identity in the Body of Christ and you become your job title/description. “…far too many are over-identified with their work as the context to achieve identity rather than express identity. When our identities are not settled in Christ, we subconsciously put them up for negotiation – and that negotiation is usually based on our ‘success’ or ‘failure’ we experience in the marketplace. Am I good enough? Is my future secure?”
When we lose our identity to anything/one, other than Christ we are already at risk to being dragged back into the cares and temptations of the world. We trust in God’s providence and sovereignty in our life, not how the workplace treats us. My experience in the corporate and military world has been that as a Christian you’re often not going to be treated “fairly”. It’s not necessarily an issue of success and failure, you may be marginalized because of your faith. So what does that mean? You give up? As Pastor Sherrill points out: “Unitl Christians in the workforce find freedom from over-identification they will only view work as meaning, while never getting around to approaching work as mission.” This is Christian integrity, I’m certainly not telling you can’t be all you can be in your vocation, you should be. As I’ve discussed before working for your “master” as if you are working for Christ. But to maintain your integrity, your identification has to be in Christ. You can be a good/great Indian chief, but being a great Indian chief in Jesus is what we strive for.
Pastor Sherrill quotes Richard Rohr: “When you get your ‘Who am I/” question right, all the ‘What should I do’ questions (begin to) take care of themselves.” Perhaps in terms of how I can be a great Indian chief for Jesus, instead of just great for my own fame, fortune and personal fulfillment.
This is a challenge we face in all our areas of life, how to be a Christian, father, husband, child, employee, citizen, but the workplace is what dominates so much of our life and is probably the area that encourages us to shed our Christian identity. It’s as if the workplace is not what Kuyper says, Jesus only can claim ‘mine’ to the time outside of the office. Of course that erosion continues to the point where we only see ourselves as Christians on Sunday morning and for only a few hours then. Jesus lived a life of integrity and sacrifice. What we presume to offer back two, maybe three hours at a church where we think we should be comfortable and entertained. This is for the men, speaking to you I’d like to say this is not being the strong man of integrity. This is an attitude of entitlement and frankly presuming to think that it’s all about you and that you are in control. If you are at any point of being a mature man, you know that you are not really in control. When we know that God is in control, that He does love us, but He also expects us to step up and be strong, courageous, and to act with Christian integrity in all of the areas of our lives. There is no integrity in the attitude where you throw Jesus some crumbs, expecting that it really results in your comfort and pleasure, especially when we remember what He did for us.
Let’s keep talking about it, Wednesday mornings 10 am at First St Johns, we have coffee and some sort of pastry, good discussion, we’re still going through Dr Gene Veith’s book, and a way to break up the week to be built up and restored in Jesus. 140 W King St, park right behind the church.

Our daily bread. How far does that go?

I’m not trying to be snarky or a wise guy, but I am going to be frank. Ya, we are promised our daily bread and even at that, it’s what we “need”, not what we would like. I’ve heard plenty of people lean over the counter at Burger King say “ya, I ‘need’ a Whopper”. We kind of throw the word “need” around a little loosely. Believe me when I tell you, I can directly relate to what many are coping with in today’s corporate world. We as Americans and business people continue to try and reconcile the “American Dream” with being Christians. Like it or not, they are irreconcilable. Paul writes: “ESV Romans 14:17 For the kingdom of God is not a matter of eating and drinking but of righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit.” I think this really kind of cuts to the chase.
I would never say and frankly I don’t think Paul would either, to stop striving, to not follow the lead of the Holy Spirit. Does the Holy Spirit lead us to strive and succeed in any aspect of life? Yes, He does. But if we look at the people most intimately involved with Jesus, with the Holy Spirit (yesterday was Pentecost), we, as Americans, would look at these men and not call any of them a “success”. All things being even, we’d probably think of them as fanatical hippies and dismiss them as unrealistic and certainly not worthy of being role models or any kind of mentors. What would you say your “emotional needs” are? I think I know, believe me, I know the drill, by now in my career I should have had an MBA and was the CFO of a mid-cap company, nothing huge maybe $500 million cap. But at the same time, I’ve realized that it seems a little like Paul who was all set to go to Asia and he has a vision to go to Greece. We will never know, but it seems that had to change the course of history. For whatever reason God chose Europe to be evangelized and the part of the world Paul would have gone to is probably the most contentious part of the world. In that same sense, the Holy Spirit can move us in the opposite direction we intended. Jesus promised us life and life more abundant (John 10:10). Do we have life “more abundant” in Christ? Yes? Just by virtue of Him being our Lord we have abundant life. Is that “abundant life” necessarily in this life, that is do we realize the complete abundance of life in Christ in the world? No. When? In the resurrection, when we will be restored to our bodies, to the world as it was meant to be. Not a world fallen in sin and death, but an eternal world that is restored in Christ’s return to where the Father had intended the world to be.
We as men, as Americans, as people in a time and place that even two generations ago would have been unimaginable. Do we have emotional “needs”? Yes, they are fulfilled in the peace, joy and provision of the Lord. Brother I know where you’re at. I wanted the esteem, the recognition, the prestige. Let’s face it, no matter how high we go there is always higher. I was just watching an episode of Frasier. He is receiving a “Life-time Achievement” award and realizes, maybe he’s at the pinnacle of his life, “what to do with the rest of my life.” We have expectations of our own, of our spouse, children, the rest of our family, our peers, on and on. I know the drill, I’ve known the drill in corporations, in the military and yes, believe it or not, I’m kind of going through that right now in the church. I’ve only been ordained, not even four years, and I’ve got those thoughts rolling around in my head, more, bigger, faster. Frankly, I feel that I’m under spiritual attack and I think that those who are resting in Christ are going to be under even more attack. There are many stories of saints overtly tempted by Satan with many kinds of earthly desires. For we Christians, we will be tempted and challenged in Christ. Peter tells us: “ESV 1 Peter 4:12 Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery trial when it comes upon you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you.” Something strange is not happening to you, whether it’s your own ego, your spouse, dad, kids, peers, ad infinitum, what matters is what is in Jesus.

Now you may not like the following, but I will say this, you’re a guy. Guys are supposed to go out and slay the biggest animal to eat, have the biggest fanciest cave, be the most accomplished among our peers, but it’s not about us, it’s about Him and what He has for our life. Thirty years ago when I started with Chase Manhattan I would have laughed in your face if you had told me that I would be a Lutheran pastor in York, Pa. (I’m from the Boston area). I was, at best, a nominal/cultural Christian. Frankly I really wouldn’t have probably understood what you were talking about and wouldn’t really have cared that much. The Holy Spirit took me in hand and there’s been a lot of events in my life that could have only been Him and He puts me where He wants me. Do I think this is it? Frankly no, but it could be and at this point in the game, I doubt I would be surprised either way.
Now the not so gentle part. I see you getting “tunnel-visioned”, I certainly understand why. Many reading this are guys, probably about the same age, we’ve done a lot and we were expecting the American dream, which means a senior level job, seven figure salary, (at least mid-six), a fat retirement account, at least one nice car for everyone in the household (read Mercedes level), of course one doesn’t summer where one winters, does one? At our age that’s beginning to slip away, in fact in our age group we stand a very good chance of not retiring or continuing to work to some degree until we’re called to be in His presence. We’re tempted to dump it on God and say “hey, that wasn’t supposed to be the deal”. As an American? Ya probably. As a Christian? No we have to be open to the Spirit’s leading. Even if you did have all the ego gratification and material gratification, would that mean that the Spirit wouldn’t be pushing on you? Those in the Acts church gave everything they had in common with their brothers and sisters. Have you really taken it in prayer to the Father? Have you really asked Him what is His will? Are you afraid of the answer? Do you think He is going to tell you to sell everything, learn some unknown language and move to some exotic place? I doubt it, but maybe He’s moving you to take your skills, any/all of them, to apply them for others, maybe in His church, maybe for some other deserving civic group? We all get way too caught up in our careers and more and more material/ego gratification and we tend to shut out the Holy Spirit and what He is guiding you to. Take some serious time in prayer, take some time in Bible study, in journaling. Write down what the Spirit is really putting on your heart, be open to Him and His leading and try to put aside your pre-conceived notions. God told us His ways are not our ways. What He is trying to do in you is probably something that would never have occurred to you and maybe you have cut yourself to any leading other than your own. I do understand, we all go through that regardless of our position. But yes frankly I think middle-aged, professionally trained men are especially susceptible. Look for His guiding, in 35 odd years He has led me to places I would have never expected and He truly has always provided, maybe not to what I wanted or expected, but certainly to what I needed, I really can say that I have never wanted and quite often have received more then I expected.

If you are not a part of a church body I would definitely encourage you to be, you are certainly welcome at First St Johns. If you are at a church sit down with your pastor and discuss further with him. You are definitely not unusual, this is a struggle we all have, may God richly bless you and help you to see His will, when we are in His will we will know joy, peace and prosperity, even while the things around us may not seem that way. We are starting a Men’s Group at First St Johns, maybe associating with Christian men in a small group setting might help you to get a better perspective, help you to feel less isolated. And our Coffee Break Bible Study meets at the church 140 W King St in York, Pa. 10am Wednesday mornings, park right behind the church and go in the back door.
Pastor Jim Driskell

Integrity in the workplace in faith in Christ

Father Nkwasibwe raises a point which I think deserves a lot of consideration in terms of organizational management. “Only a leader who has undergone a personal path of conversion and lived with an interior attitude of conversion and humility can be an example of the effort to downgrade workplace religious bias, prejudice and discrimination and other sinful inequalities. Such a leader enjoys the moral courage of freedom, responsibility and participation in social, cultural and religious interchange and promotion of the common good.”

Ya, ya, I can hear the clenching from here. The contemporary wisdom goes something like this, you have to hire someone who is completely unbiased, unattached, uncommitted, just “un” everything. I have to wonder if that is someone you can really trust. One of the main reasons for this blog is to champion the concept of living one’s faith life out in the workplace. Now, I will grant you that many see their faith life as converting the heathen. And I’m certainly not saying that given the opportunity in the workplace that I wouldn’t witness to Christ. I have, but when I do/did, it was with integrity. I’m there to present Christ, to tell people what He’s done in my life. What the Lordship of Christ in my life means, and what eternal life means. Now to be truly faithful to that, my witness has to be one that is with integrity, doing my job in a way that glorifies Christ. Not getting into holy wars, not picking on people, not discriminating etc. Always remembering that part of living my life in Christ in the workplace is to do my job with integrity and not using it as a way to abuse my position in favor of those who agree with me. Is that easy? No.

On the flip side, that person who has no scruples in terms of their life regarding “God”, however they see that, that’s better? No, it just isn’t. This is a person who’s decided that they know best, they trust only in their own judgment, or the judgment of other people. That is the continued downfall of secularism. We continue to try and impose individual, unguided, uncritical, frankly mostly about how I can do things to enhance me, and then expect that person to make principled, unbiased judgments. That’s a ridiculous expectation. This person is, bottom line, all about him or her. If anything they will discriminate against people of faith, like the college professor who picks out Christian students and decides that for a variety of reasons, they just don’t have it, tries to bully them into denying their Christian convictions. Come on, are there more Ken Lay’s and Bernie Madoff’s in the business world, or more David Green’s (owner of Hobby Lobby)? Ya right, who would I trust more? Come on! Who could I expect to hold accountable and who would think that they are a law unto themselves?

I’m not saying that Christians are always the most humble or the most principled. But I can go to David Green and if he’s not acting according to Christian principles I can hold him accountable. Ken Lay, Bernie Madoff et al, the only thing they are accountable for is the bottom line, investor value anything else, they will do as they judge and that’s what will get the secular man or woman in trouble every time.

“Self leadership, which is an offshoot of conversion, is that leadership that spurs others through moral values and exemplary skilled practices because nemo dat quod non habet. …Latin … “nobody gives what he or she does not have’. No matter what, this cannot be bypassed if effectiveness and righteousness are to be realized… Undergoing a path of conversion involves sustaining on-going renewal and connotes persevering in holiness, true friendship and altruistic service. … a journey of discovery, spiritual progress or soul’s journey toward God…”

“…it is also when conversion occurs that the leader can develop courage to lead the workplace community to ascend from the disrepute to which unethical practices and religious rivalry and confrontations have drawn most business actions.”

A man of faith is going to be a lot more likely to step up and take the heat and trust God’s providence as compared to the just cowardly, infantile, pathetic actions of people like Lay, Madoff and Dennis Kozlowski of Tyco. Just squirrely little weenies. I know, not very charitable, but it is what it is. (Quick note, I had to Google Tyco. You know what the first reference was “tyco scandal”. Ya, just how you want to be remembered.)

Popular media likes to try to portray people of religion as bigots, narrow-minded, abusive. But the reality completely contradicts the popular fiction. I’d rather work for Hobby Lobby or Chick Fil A before I worked for Dennis Kozlowski.

Our group meets for discussion on Wednesday 10am, coffeehouse at the corner of  W King and Beaver Sts. Parking is behind the church 140 W King St, about a 50 yard walk from there. No charge, no committment, I will even buy your first cup of coffee. We are still in Gene Veith’s book, “God at Work”. See you then and God bless you.

 

U.S. suicide rates rise sharply article by Tara Parker-Pope New York Times May 2, 2013 as quoted in Leadership Journal Summer 2013

This article really hit home with me because what of suicide means to me as a Christian and especially in terms of the fact that the group most affected, is becoming most likely to commit suicide are men in their 50s, like me.

So what’s the difference? Clearly as a Christian, as a pastor, I see suicide as the final act of those who are hopeless, who see nothing else left to live for and so chose to stop.

Why men in their 50’s? Parker-Pope points out factors such as economic, availability of prescription painkillers. That might accelerate the process, but, in my opinion, that’s not the core issue. As a Christian my faith is in the promises of our Lord Jesus Christ, my hope is in Him only, not in the economy, my expectations, what other people think etc. She does go on to point out that “…it hinted that deeper issues like failed expectations and a loss of hope might be a root cause.” She quotes “Dr Julie Philips, a researcher from Rutgers: ‘The boomers had great expectations for what their life would look like, but … It hasn’t turned out that way.'” She goes on to say that future generations will be facing the same situation.

I can certainly speak as being part of that demographic and can relate. Twenty five years ago I finally finished my business degree working for Motorola and there was no doubt in my mind that I was finally on my way to at least being a CFO for, at least, a mid-cap company. If you had told me that I would be a Lutheran pastor in York, Pa., I would probably have suggested that they might cut out smoking, drinking whatever was messing with their mind.

Middle aged men today have become all about their job, achievements, their house, their car, well you get it. That’s it, their total investment is in how they amass money/ things. I hear it constantly from men “oh yeah, I don’t need church, blah, blah,” and they will spout some inane nonsense about how they know it all, don’t need none of that, again blah, blah. The more they talk, the more obvious they don’t know what they’re talking about. But hey I will concede that the church has gone out of it’s way to make itself less relevant to men. But it doesn’t matter, because it’s all about the job, making money etc.

In addition to not needing church, don’t need government, because they’re all crooks, doesn’t make a difference, again blah, blah. Men aren’t getting educations because it doesn’t make a difference, the only thing that makes a difference is how much money, the quality of their possessions. Men in their 50’s are statistically supposed to be at the peak of their earning, on their way to having a nice easy retirement etc, etc. The reality is that most are finding that is not going to be the case, that they haven’t achieved what they thought they were supposed to and everything that they’ve pinned their hope on is simply not going to happen. Their hope is gone, the supposed promise of the American Dream is simply not going to happen.

Let’s cut to the chase, yes of course each of us is responsible for running our life, but we need to realize that it’s not about what we ultimately do, it’s what God guides us to do. I had a certain set of expectations, but I was clearly led by God to be where I am now and there’s no doubt in my mind that there’s much more to come. It may be where I’m at, or something entirely new, but when I look back on my life I have no doubt as to who was guiding it. I’m not saying that I’m somehow “chosen” I’m not saying that I’m any kind of special case at all. I am saying that if more people, not just men, trusted in what God was doing and quit trying to live by their own expectations, they would find life to be a more of an adventure, a lot more fulfilling, more authentic and in the end? Maybe not the big bank account, big house etc. But knowing that they have lived according to God’s will, they’ve lived the life that God guided them in and in terms of living their true life, in the resurrection, they will be blessed and yes, the building treasure in heaven that Jesus makes many references to.

Space and inclination don’t permit me to get into a discussion of suicide, but it’s God who gives us life and it’s His decision what happens and when He decides to call us home, suicide is never the solution in any respect. Pride, anger, disappointment are not acceptable, but in a society where we have this idea that it’s all about us and we can do what we want, when we want, well God is simply not going to bless that.

It’s way past time for us all to follow the Holy Spirit’s leading and trust in the hope and promises of the Bible, God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit. We are responsible for the conduct of our life, but that responsibility is realized when we trust in what God is doing in our life and not our own desires and expectations.