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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 – Advanced)
Topic: Commitment (01/05/12)

TITLE: You Can't Flip Burgers While Sitting at a Desk
By James Brown
01/11/12


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The innocuous email originated from the main office in New York.

To all managers:
In an effort to keep communication open between all branches, we are initiating a companywide teleconference to be held every Wednesday evening at 5:00. This will last one hour, so not to inconvenience anyone. All managers are required to attend, but will be compensated for your time.

I sent a reply agreeing it, and went about my duties without giving it another thought.

Wednesday arrived. I dutifully strolled to the conference room, surprised to see it empty. Jerry poked his head in the room. “What ya doing here so early Marvin. The conference doesn’t begin for another two hours.”

“Two hours? But the email said 5:00.”

“That’s New York time, which translates to 7:00 our time.”

Such a simple mistake, such monstrous ramifications – Prayer meeting started at 7 PM. Now I found myself in a quandary. Do I stay for the meeting or go to church? I could excuse myself one night, but every Wednesday?

I made some quick calls to my wife, Pastor and trusted friends for counsel. The problem was that their opinions differed, leaving me more confused than ever. On the one hand, I felt God lead me to this position to I glorify Him and witness to my colleagues. On the other hand, this was my dream job that provided handsomely for my family. Without it, I’d lose my house, cars . . . everything I’d worked so hard for.

With less than an hour to go, I locked myself in my office, sank to my knees and poured my heart out to God.

The president opened the meeting with a cordial greeting.

“Thank you for being prompt. This is new for us, so it may take a while to work out the kinks, but I believe it will enhance our company’s performance. This is a time to share ideas, utter grievances, garner feedback . . .”

While he spoke, I glanced around the table at my fellow managers taking copious notes on yellow legal pads. Mine remained blank; my pen snuggled in my pocket protector.

“. . . So, before we proceed, are there any questions?”

I lifted my hand, not sure if I should speak up or not. I discovered the video-cam was working fine when he said, “I see your hand Marvin. What’s your question?”

“Well, um . . . sir, is there a reason you chose this particular time?”

“Yes sir; it’s the only slot I can make consistently. And in case you’re wondering, it’s not negotiable.”

“Well, sir, Wednesday is bad for me. Perhaps I could have one of the other managers clue me in on the details Thursday morning.”

“Impossible. That’d defeat the purpose. It’s either show up Wednesday or don’t show up at all.”

I dropped my head for a moment and replied, “Then I guess it’ll be not at all.”

Shocked silence reigned as I gathered up my belongings and prepared to leave.

“I’ll clean out my desk in the morning, sir, if that’s all right.”

With that I left my fantastic job. Surely the Lord had something better for me. He was teaching me to trust Him . . . which I did for the first few weeks. But in this tough economy, jobs were scarce, especially in my sector. After a year with no job, my faith hit rock bottom. I was so sure God lead me to leave the company. One thing was for sure; I had lots of time to study my Bible and pray. Finally, out of desperation, I took a job flipping burgers at a fast food joint. Wasn’t much, but it paid the bills.

One slow day, a group of teens sat chatting about schoolwork while munching down burgers and fries. The common complaint centered on a certain English teacher who demanded perfection. Sensing a tug by the Spirit, I interrupted their conversation to explain that I used to be a professional editor and would be willing to lend my expertise to their enterprise.

We now meet twice a week in the corner booth, critiquing each other. Not only have their grades gone up, but I’ve had many opportunities to share the Gospel. When I put God first, He replaced my American dream with His.


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This article has been read 275 times
Member Comments
Member Date
Camille (C D) Swanson 01/12/12
Oh, I really loved this. It was a story that most can relate to today, with unemployment so high. The ending was fabulous, the message strong - and the dedication and commitment to stay in the Word and do His work, clearly stated.

Nicely written - good job!

God Bless~
Judy Sauer 01/13/12
What a lousy reason to explain why this time for the meeting. Worse is the callous take it or leave it mindset of the guy in charge. Corporate bullies are far too common.

Hurrah for the Christian who put his faith building a higher priority. Even with the year of struggles and doubts, the man is likely happier than ever.

Nicely done.
Anne Warden 01/14/12
What a wonderful take on the subject of Commitment! Too often we forget that our prime responsibility as Christians is to do what will (a) bring more people to a relationship with God and (b) bring more glory to His Name. It's a huge responsibility but it's also a privilege and joy.

Great story!
Linda Goergen01/14/12
Great story! I absolutely love your last line “When I put God first, He replaced my American dream with His.” That says it all! Well done!
Kristine Baker01/15/12
Your title interested me. You packed a lot of information in this story. I am curious to know if this family truly lost their house and cars in that year of unemployment.

I had trouble with the sentence where you were explaining on one hand. I think it had an extra word that did not belong.

Good Writing!

Sydney Avey01/16/12
You told this story well. Having him end up flipping burgers was a bit of a cliche but it worked for the story. I'm a little uncomfortable with the mc being left on the heap of the unemployed. To be honest, it sounds like God has called him to poverty and I struggle with that. His tutoring gig will certainly benefit the kids and fulfill the mc, but it won't feed his family. Perhaps shed some light on the new path--new opportunities? Maybe he becomes a master teacher or starts a kid publishing. company? But you made your point and it was a good one.
Nancy Bucca01/17/12
I really liked this piece. Not only did it nail the topic and have a great ending, but I couldn't beat the title. Great job!