Friday, August 10, 2007

Playing On The Winning Team

by Wong Fook Meng, GCF ecommentary

"My dream has always been to to work in a large company and travel around the world. I hope they will send me to their office in China. I don't want to be stuck in a small company forever doing mundane work."

Those were my friend's parting words. She is heading for the big city to live out her corporate dream.

Lou Gerstner, former CEO of IBM, said in his book, "Who Says Elephants Can't Dance?", that leaders must be passionate about winning. According to him, no one wants to work for a loser. I think he is right. Everyone wants to be playing on a winning team.

During high school reunions, the first question we ask each other is usually, "Where are you working now?" It is a question which usually comes before how is your family, how is your walk with God, etc. But, what if you don't have an impressive answer? What if you're "stuck" in a small company doing insignificant work and you are embarrassed with your present career path?

Each of us have a deep need to know that what we do will be significant and has lasting consequences. Jesus Christ knows our need and reminds us that He has chosen everyone of us to be on His team, the winning team:

"You did not choose me, but I have chose you and appointed you that you should go and bear fruit, and that your fruit should abide."

We are appointed to go and bear fruit that will abide. Eternal fruit. There is no corporation that can promise its employee that what they do will last forever. None, that is, except the movement of the gospel, where we are called to transform eternities and change lives. There is no higher stake in town than the eternities of men and women whom we must touch for the Kingdom of Christ.

Joan Maragall says,
"What can be more rewarding than devoting a lifetime to a work that will far outlive you, a work that will see future generations come and go? What peace work of this kind brings to a man! What disregard for time and death! What anticipation of eternity!"

But, what about our secular work? Is there any intrinsic value in our work as engineers, IT specialists, sales personnel, civil servants, doctors, lawyers, accountants, etc? Do our daily tasks fall under the ambit of "eternal fruit"?

Reading the Scriptures, I find that our Lord Jesus Christ Himself was a carpenter for eighteen years before He became an itinerant preacher. Were the eighteen years spent sweating out in the carpenter's shop less valuable to God compared to the three years of "full time Christian vocational ministry"? Was there any intrinsic and eternal value created when the Son of God hammers away at the work bench (did He ever accidentally hit His thumb?) , haggles over the price of raw materials and delivers furniture to customers? Did Jesus carry a name card? Was He proud of His "career"?

I believe that in God's economy, there is value in all we do. There's an amazing variety of work that Christians can be involved in. Paul Stevens, Alvin Ung's professor at Regent, argues that the only jobs that the Bible prohibits are witchcraft, prostitution and extortion. The Scriptures maintains a very open stance as to what kind of work we should be doing. "Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord," Paul urges Christians in Asia Minor. However, God does not attribute values to our work as the world does. In God's economy, all work is of equal value when it is done "as for the Lord". Thus, in God's estimation, a CEO's work is no more valuable than the tea lady's. A doctor's work is no more important than a char keow teow man's. A high level management decision is no more spectacular than the routine typing of a simple letter.

The true test of the value of our work is not the curriculum vitea, the size of the paycheck or the titles / name cards that we carry. The true test is whether the work we do is "as for the Lord" or as to ourselves.

As such, whatever work we do, whether in a large listed company on the KLSE or in a small and unknown "Chinaman" enterprise, let us remember that as long as we play on Jesus' team, we're playing on the winning team!


1. Do you sometimes feel your work has no significance or lasting consequences? Do you have a tendency to judge a person's value by the namecard / job title (or the lack of one) that he / she carries?

2. Do you think God values Jesus' carpentry work? Is it as significant as His ministries like teaching and healing ? Is there an eternal value in your secular work?

3. Work can involve many mundane duties like reading through correspondence, meeting clients, being on the road, etc. What can you do to remind yourself that the routine things that you do have eternal value?

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