Friday, January 18, 2008

worldly efficiency versus the Jesus Creed

At work the other day, in our often hectic activity, I was reflecting with a coworker and good friend on a pet peeve I have as to a small matter that would make matters much easier in regard to a maneuver we must make from time to time. In talking it over with him it dawned on me that in the entire matter, while I could be on the side of efficiency, I may not be on the side of Jesus, in this; I being the only one sinning in this. And I told my friend that.

We're told, in "the Jesus Creed" that we're to love God with all our being and doing, and to love our neighbor as ourselves. And the Jesus way is one of love and truth. While it is good and important for us to work well with all our hearts, it is never to be done at the expense of loving each other, or loving any other. Without this love, all our "right" activity is wrong, of course.

I was raised in a strong work ethic inherited from parents who experienced the hard times of the American Great Depression. And probably influenced somehow by the strong Protestant work ethic, which in its place is good. On top of all of this is at least the factor of an efficient American way of activity in getting the most bang for buck. And with all this, even for me as a Christian, one can fail to really follow Jesus.

So as I stood there in our work with my younger brother and friend, it was like a revelation hitting me, small as it was, yet large in significance. I had to tell myself to let it go. And instead of making an issue of it, accept the inefficiency. Maybe, in love, there could be a time and place to make a general suggestion. But even in the fast pace of work life, and perhaps especially there, we need to take care that we be followers of our Lord, loving God and loving others over all else.

What might this mean for you? Or what else might you add or tie in to this?

12 comments:

odysseus said...

I've had a similar situation (several really). I was the Network Admin for a organization and we were looking to cut cost. I proposed several different options, most notably Linux, to help us cut software costs (if any knows, enterprise software can cost a lot). However, my 'boss' (who knew almost nothing about IT) and I butted heads on numerous occasions about it. Since the OS was not Windows, she wanted nothing to do with it. It was all she knew. I tried to explain that we could make it look like Windows and it would almost function just like Windows, but she didn't want it. When I tried to talk to the CEO about it, she would just come out of nowhere and offer her two cents like she knew what she was talking about. In fact, anytime I was talking with the CEO, in the hallway, in the kitchen, etc., there she was, materialized like she was beamed down from the Starship Enterprise. It got to the point that I believe I lost a status change because of it. Anyway, after a while of this, I realized that I wasn't so concerned about saving the company money as I was about saving face. I wanted to put my boss in her place and prove to the CEO that I really knew what I was doing (heck, I had been there longer than my boss, anyway). I realized that I was being way too pushy and not really concerned about loving my 'neighbors' as I was about making my point known. At first I felt resentment and down-right betrayal more than once, but I realized that this was my doing, it was my fault. So I just backed off. Things were a lot better for moral wise, but the company was still losing thousands of dollars on licensing that they could have used somewhere else. Sometimes, loving your neighbor means that we have to let them do their own thing. Kinda like when God does that for us.

Peace be with you.

OD

NaNcY said...

it is interesting to think of what love looks like when in acting in love in a certain situation. it is something to think on as well to what it means to love God and others in our doing and living, in a world that has other ways and other reasons for doing things.

Andrew said...

I, too, was raised with two VERY hard-working parents. (My dad worked three jobs until a few years ago, and my mom two.) In recession- and unemployment-plagued Michigan, along with the "Protestant work ethic" you mention, I know that in my family and to others around me you're a loser unless you're working your tail off--nothing less than 40 a week.

But this makes it very easy for me to base my self-worth on how much I'm doing, how many hours I pile up (currently about 55 a week), and how fiscally responsible I am. Right now I'm taking a class on vocation and work in the Christian life, and it's a hard balance between wanting to honor God with my labors and going overboard. (Laziness is NOT godly; 2 Thess 3.)

Rachel Mc said...

I started my current job in Oct 2005, and a co-worker is a very, very, difficult person to work with. Everyone in the office was afraid of her and pretty much let her do whatever she wanted to avoid confrontation. My first few months were rough, then I was given the advice that when ever dealing with her to silently pray "show me her heart, Lord" and I did just that. There have been many ups and downs but she has changed from a self conscious, jealous person to one who now feels part of the group. Is the work situation perfect? No, and I don't ever expect it to be. However approaching her with kindness and my intentionally looking for her heart has made all the difference. I find it very difficult to bring up my faith at work, but I hope my actions speak louder than my words.

Ted M. Gossard said...

Odysseus,
Thanks for sharing your much more complex and interesting version this point.

And little things like this end up meaning much more, in our willingness to let it go in seeking to honor and obey the Lord.

Thanks, brother (and I do look forward to getting over to your blog this weekend to get into your latest offerings on eschatology. my blog practice as of late has been dismal)

Ted M. Gossard said...

Nancy,
Yes. It would be a challenge in certain places. But do we really want worldly efficency, or the Lord's will and blessing? Only one answer if we're really seeking to follow Jesus.

Thanks.

Ted M. Gossard said...

Andrew,
It is good to be able to say NO, for good reasons. While at the same time working extra when need be. This all takes wisdom. But we need more followers of Christ who say "NO THANKS" when possible to put first things first, not neglecting our families or a ministry God opens to us.

Efficiency certainly is good in its place, as well. The problem lies in it getting out of place, like everything else, and thus becoming an idol.

Thanks for sharing that. And I'm working some overtime right now, and recently, as well.

Ted M. Gossard said...

Rachel,
Thanks for sharing that. So helpful, and I pray now that your life will preach and open the way to your co-workers, for the gospel.

Martin Stickland said...

All beers are good Ted as long as they are wet! Hic!

Ted M. Gossard said...

Thanks, Martin. That was so helpful.

Martin Stickland said...

Sorry Ted, it was late last night and I had drunk to much 'Spekled Hen' 'Beamish', 'Directors' and 'Caffries' beer.

These are the ones that I like but they may not be everyones 'cup of tea'

You could look at:

http://www.cerveza.ch/uk.shtml

This site tells you a bit about British beers and some closer to home for you.

A pint of beer here is about 2.40 at the cheapest pub ($4-5?)

I will tell you what, as a great favor I will go to the Castle pub this lunchtime and have a nice pint on your behalf whilst sitting by
the pubs it's big open log fire, gosh, the things I do for some people!

Cheers Ted!

Ted M. Gossard said...

Oh, that's okay, Martin. We have a chain store here, like a Walmart, that has a store right across from where I work where I might find all the brands you list towards a specialized or selected six pack. There certainly is a difference, as a friend was telling me, to those beers people drink to get drunk on, and the beers sophisticates such as myself (time for the hilarious laughter) like to enjoy.

You're probably about right on the cost here. That's why I confine most all of that to bring home from sales, or for fun- just once in awhile, here and there. Thanks for the info, and I'll have one for you, next time around.