Thursday, September 02, 2010

How Do I Work?

"Exhort bondservants to be obedient to their own masters, to be well pleasing in all things, not answering back, not pilfering, but showing all good fidelity, that they may adorn the doctrine of God our Savior in all things." - Titus 2: 9-10

How does my work measure up to this standard? This was the thought that tugged at my mind as I got up this morning to start getting ready for my job. How good of an employee am I?

Am I obedient to my own bosses? Am I well pleasing in everything I do at work? Do I not answer back? Do I not pilfer? Do I show all good fidelity (e.g. loyalty)? Do I adorn the doctrine of God in all things?

These are questions that make me squirm and squiggle away as I look at them - both because of my inability to respond to them as I should and the fact that I would consider myself a "good" worker, although not by the standards.

Note the focus (yet again for the slow in the audience like me): the point is not about my or my work (note that the words "self actualization" or "enjoy what you do" are not in there), it's about adorning the doctrine of God, to make it real for all those I work with.

As I consider these, I wonder where I changed. I've this sense that I used to be a much more diligent employee than I am now. I can't pin down in my mind where "the change" occurred, but as I think about it it may have been a combination of two factors: 1) The realization in my industry that any company will take all the effort you give it but will lay you off without a second thought ( and the secondary realization that all my effort is wasted and put into a cardboard box to be stored off site); and 2) The Firm, where we punctuated times of extreme labor with periods of less extreme labor.

The image I get from Paul's writing is that of someone who is active and busy the whole time they are at work, not sitting around and conversing (pilfering time counts) or complaining about the direction of the company or people in the company, loyally serving those in the structure above them instead of picking apart every flaw and overanalysing every action.

The part that then rears up inside of me is "Yes, but that's pretty much slavery (interestingly, that's who Paul was writing this to). If I do that, I put myself completely at the mercy of everyone around me. With no sense of what's occurring in the company I'll be the last one surprised by a drastic change that leave me over the side or gasping for air as I'm thrown under the bus. And advancement? Forget that. My career will become marooned in a small corner of the work universe as others go on to greater things because I 'worked' rather than playing the game."

That, of course, discounts the intervention of God. If I am adorning the doctrine of God in my work by how I work and leaving the results up to Him, it is a form of exercising faith by being obedient and leaving the rest to Him. The Bible is pretty clear that in these circumstances God will move - but He gets the glory, not me.

So how am I going to work today? Will I adorn the doctrine of God by my actions and attitudes of work (Dear Lord, can I go 24 hours without one negative comment?) or will I spend another day stripping the doctrine of God by my actions and attitudes?

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