Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 - Advanced)
Topic: Employment (01/26/12)
TITLE: Not Just a Job
By Noel Mitaxa
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Todd was on the line, excited as usual, but his pastor knew that a solid heart beat beneath the excitement that some people felt got in their faces. Todd and Cathy were recent transfers from up country, where Todd’s management potential had been recognised with a promotion into his company’s head office.
They had not pushed their way into any prominent positions in their new church, but they had made their presence felt and they were developing some strong friendships with their natural warmth and the energy of their commitment to Christ.
Pastor Kelvin was excited to see a young Christian man being given recognition by his company peers and superiors. He’d planned to phone to follow-up how the weekend had gone but as he’d half-expected; Todd was getting in first.
“Well, I believe most things Todd, but why don’t you tell me?” he replied.
“When we got to the first session, we found all the chairs arranged in a circle with no screen in sight. Then the convenor told us: ‘I don’t know how long this session will last. That’s entirely up to you.’
“As we looked at each other and wondered what he meant, he went on: ‘I’d like each of you to take turns to stand up and tell us all about yourselves…’
"Pastor, I knew he was on dangerous ground, for I know some of those guys are on excellent terms with themselves, and I could see their smirks getting bigger and bigger.
“But then he told us: ‘There’s one condition. The moment you mention your job, you’ll have to stop and sit down!’”
“Pastor, the longest any one of us took was forty-five seconds! I only lasted thirty seconds myself, but it was a great lesson. After we were all done, the convenor nailed us with the news that every job and any promotion is focused on people more than on products. So while we have our own responsibilities, everything doesn’t revolve around us. We have to pay attention to what makes people tick – whether they are our employees, our colleagues, our supervisors, our customers or our suppliers. And if we take time to show interest in their needs or their interests, they will sense our respect and become more loyal to us and what our company can offer.”
“Todd, I only wish I’d learned that in seminary,” replied Pastor Kelvin. “All we were told was to preach the word, and to defend the truth. But since I’ve got to know Jesus a whole lot better, I see how he focused his teaching and conversations around where people were; as he drew them along at a pace where they could chew it over and keep with him.
“You know Todd; the fruit of the Spirit that’s listed in Galatians five is all about people-skills which are powered by God’s grace. This fruit is not a list of private, personal qualities, but a key to building respect and harmony wherever we are – in the workplace, at home, or school or anywhere we get to interact with other people. Can you imagine how hard we would be to live with if we focused all that fruit; like love, joy, peace, patience, gentleness, kindness, meekness and self-control; on ourselves alone?
“Your convenor has treated you to a secular confirmation to that eternal spiritual truth from Galatians; and as you let God’s grace integrate your relationships at work, your influence will grow with the flavour of Jesus’ respect and integrity. For Jesus said that the greatest among us must be servant of all, and as you consciously draw on his presence on the job, he will draw others to you. Some will be very open and warm; others will be curious; and still others’ interest will run hot and cold. But however they approach you, relax in his timing, he will augment your employment with a clear ministry to them.”
They wrapped up their phone conversation by praying together, but not before Todd accepted his pastor’s invitation to share his experience with the rest of the church next Sunday.
That next Sunday, Pastor Kelvin was thrilled that after the service a whole line of people was happy for Todd’s enthusiasm to get in their faces; so they could plug into credible ways to build ministry into their own work scene.
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