August 15, 2007

The Bigger Picture (Part III)

As I've been thinking about this little series, I originally intended to take the last post and move into a topic about the Creation Museum that's received so little attention in the news lately. Yes, so little, which tells you how easily it has been dismissed by the mainstream media and those of its audience that it purported to target. But instead I've found God leading me in a new direction, asking a new question that I think is really important to the bigger picture for all of us, and thought I'd share a few of the things that I'm learning.

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How is one's faith to take hold at work?

I think, when discussing the bigger picture of scripture, that this is an intimate part of the conversation. Let's face it, where could scripture be more relevant than one's everyday life, at work or at school or at home?

I bring this up because it's a question that has plagued me in recent months, as one by one (and over and over again) I experience stressful situations at both offices. At ColdStone, we've had two managers fired and one resign within four months. I was offered the job, but because I'm in school I don't have time for it. I still got the job, but "temporarily" until they can find another manager ... which is now looking not to happen. It's been a good deal as far as money goes, but I've had a lot to worry about, from scheduling (which can be a nightmare with high school kids) to hiring (my first time being on the interviewer side of things). At EyeCare Assoc, two of the three doctors are joining another, bigger practice and are moving out. This left us with a dilemma, because not only did the staff have to decide who to go with, but also there are issues to be worked out with scheduling, with the office (who gets the common phone number that patients call?), with logistics (they're taking the computers, when do we install a new server?), and of course, with relationships (how do you part ways in a dignified and honorable way?).

It's been quite a ride this summer, from being given very few hours, to now, finding myself overwhelmed with the possibilities and job offers. Some seasons are scarce, others are overly abundant. Both can be stressful.

Scripture has a lot to say about daily life. The Hebrew people well understood that God is interested in how we conduct our daily affairs, and that he wishes to be a part of it, intimately. If you read the books of Leviticus and Deuteronomy, you'd discover that in and amongst the various prescriptions for sabbath rituals, there are dietary laws, how to conduct one's self with foreigners, how to handle business relationships, and even instructions for how to behave on a menstrual cycle.

God is concerned with daily life.

And so I find myself asking what God wishes me to do in these various situations. Both places purport to offer the very best of their particular field, though their fields are ages apart. On the one hand, I'm a good fit - I was raised to do my very best, no matter what the job. On the other, I find myself asking just how much abuse I can take before I start going mental.

To be an honorable employee without letting your superiors push you around is a hard balance to strike, especially when you also have a family to worry about and school. When I say "push around," I'm not referring to the Optometrist's office; it's mostly Coldstone, and only then because of the current financial situation. The business is such that they need to get the most out of people for the least amount of pay - that's the way capitalism works, especially when the store doesn't make enough to support itself yet. When they offered me the manager job, I turned it down because I can't afford 75 hours a week, despite the appeal of a salaried position. I have other priorities that are more important - seeing my family, first and foremost, something that would never happen if I were to have taken that job.

And the weird part is that they gave me a raise and decided to try something new. It surprised me at first, because I'm the sort that usually gives in to pressure from authority; I obey perceived authority really well. But for some reason, this time I didn't. It turns out that our store can manage without a full-on "manager" just as well if not better than we have in the past. I take care of writing a schedule for people, and act as a go-to person, and the staff works hard together. In some regards, I think we work better as a team now that we don't have a manager; everybody takes responsibility for the store's function, rather than just one person. And it wouldn't have happend if I'd have said yes.

And this brings me to the role of a follower of Jesus in the workplace: the redemption of that workplace. Every workplace is flawed, in one way or another; as those who have chosen to follow the teachings of Jesus, we are called to be redeemers, peacemakers in the workplace, indeed, in every aspect of our lives. We are to be of such character - imitators of Christ - that we naturally try to better the world around us. Sometimes this looks funny (think of some of the times Jesus got into arguments with the dominant religious groups), but all in all, we are to make this world better. We are to redeem it, to help it grow, and in doing so, we grow ourselves.

It's impressed me how Dr. Stratton is handling the change at her office; with the McMillins leaving for another optical office, she's not looking at this as a time of mourning, but as a time of growth. This is a chance to become a better office, to improve on our efficiency, to try new things, to expand, to become better neighbors with our partner opticians nextdoor. To grow, to allow ourselves to be redeemed. Change can do that; it can either tear you down or make you stronger, and Dr. Stratton is letting it make her stronger. I admire that.

(to be continued)

1 comment:

shawna said...

Good stuff Chris. This has been something I've been thinking of lately as well. Since I've taken over Missions at church I started encouraging people to be missionaries as they go through their every day life, but I thought if I'm going to be saying things like that I better be sure I'm acting it out myself, but when I walked into work ready to be a missionary I sort of stared for a minute and realized I had no idea how to do that...but I suppose what I realized is that it's as simple and as complicated as continually offering yourself as a living sacrifice and asking God to give you opportunities to show his love and "shine your light" so to speak. And also making sure your priorities are right, as in not taking on 75 hours a week when you've got a wife and a baby at home and trusting that God can sort out the details (as he does). I've got another good book for you to read (if you have time and haven't read it already) Always Enough: Gods Miraculous Provision among the Poorest Children on Earth by Rolland and Heidi Baker.