This encouraged me greatly as I think about my workplace environment. I too feel stifled in my witness at work. I continue to do it, but it does feel a little awkward when I am challenging someone with regards to the Gospel. And yet, if we pause to think about it how much religion is being shoved down our throats. Not only from perverse conversations swirling around us, but also the music that is pumping through the speakers at the store I work at sings the praises of having sex whenever you want with whomever you feel like. The music preaches the wonder and majesty of getting drunk, sleeping in late, dissipation, etc.

Timmy Brister shares how he responded to his boss when confronted by him. Some of his co-workers heard him talking about the significance of a cross around his conversant’s neck. Timmy responded:

“Every day I work here at UPS, people are pushing their religion upon me. They are atheists and live like there is no God, there is no day of accounting, there is no purpose in life except living for oneself. And everyday, that religion is preached from one co-worker after another, calling me to unbelief, and I am offended by that. Everyday I hear godless talk, my Savior’s name slurred, and hear of things that used to make people blush, and I am offended by that. Without fail, my coworkers are being entirely intolerant. One would tell me of their love and passion for Kentucky basketball and another for Louisville football, and to believe contrary to them would be against their “religion.” Yet I have the same passion and devotion, not to sports or girls or parties, but Jesus Christ. So why is my “religion” the only one being called out here at UPS? Why am I the only person who is being labeled judgmental when I am doing the most merciful thing in telling people about the love of Jesus Christ? If we were to apply the same standard to others as you are applying to me, we would have to shut down all conversation among all co-workers from this moment on, and believing that will not happen, then you have forced yourself to settle with a double-standard predicated upon hearsay of those who found a portion of my conversation as offensive. On the other hand, I exhort you to visit with everyone of my coworkers and supervisors for the past three years, people who I have worked with and talked to on a daily basis, and determine whether the claims uphold any warrant. If at that point you believe that I am unfit to function as a trainer at UPS, I would resign immediately in deference to your judgment and the goodwill of UPS. But I want to make it clear to you that this is not about me, and it has never been about me. Young men like my new hire need someone who will actually take personal interest in them and want to genuinely help them in life, not shove them off like a package on a conveyor belt, and I am of the opinion that those whom I have been given to train, they will be to me of greater worth than a package to be delivered in five days but hopefully a friend for many days to come.”

Thanks, Timmy, for speaking truth balanced with grace. Read the whole post: “The Cross Isn’t Sexy: A Dying Man’s Confession.”

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Less Hype. More Humility.

Please. Embedded in our consumeristic culture, there is the assumption that newer is better than older–though I prefer aged beef and cheddar to new. There is the assumption that grand and renovated and powerful is preferable to meek and lowly and weak.

The church often adopts this form of communicating in an effort to gather people into its doors. “God is doing awesome things here at Church _______.” The fact is that God is doing awesome things everyday and everywhere. He’s sustained your life. He’s given you sight and hearing and legs. And if you have none or only one of these, he’s still given you life and a mind to engage the world around you. Truly miraculous. What is more, is God not also doing something in the old, decrepit church that meets faithfully every Sunday? Is God not at work in the mundane? Is the changing of laundry and washing of dishes and working through an argument devoid of God’s presence?

I see so many churches trying to drum up excitement about the latest outreach or project, when what our culture needs is the staying power and sobriety of faithfulness in the ho-hum drudgery of going to a job you hate or a marriage that is contentious. What we need is not more hype, but more humility. More service and less heavy-handedness. We need more gentleness and less power grabs.

If we don’t, what then becomes of the senior citizen who is tired? What becomes of the baby who is sleeping? What becomes of the unemployed and outcast and burdened? They are forgotten. They are seen as less valuable because they aren’t producing the kind of energy requisite for assumed faithfulness to the disciples’ call.

In reality, we need less loud voices and red faces and sweaty brows and more silence and calmness and a deep well of contentment.

The New Economics Will Be People

So I went to a coffee shop this morning and was struck by the utter efficiency they were churning out drinks. In fact the team lead said this much as encouragement to the six other workers behind the counter.

I walked in. Smiled at the barista. Was greeted with a blank stare as he continued to froth the milk and deliver the piping hot skinny latte with extra foam to the drive-thru. I walked to the register and was passed with nary a glance…even when the team lead said “Hello.” No she didn’t look at me, but made sure that her metric of greeting a guest in the first ten seconds was met. A box that is checked. That’s what I was. A large dark roast with no room for cream and sugar. And surely there was no saccharin here. There was utility and efficiency.

In all our pandering for growth our marketing of environment is nothing more than a marketing tool. The timers and grids for efficiency have crowded out the thing that matters. The only thing that matters in products.

You see, the products that are pushed are labeled as though they were made for you. In reality, the products being sold to you have (for the most part) been made for the manufacturer. People have merely become a means to the end of bigger, faster, better.

In the new economy, people will matter more.

They won’t matter because they need to matter to grow the business. Too often companies tell you that you’re important because they want your money. They don’t want to make a difference as much as they want their new car or luxury vacation.

I want to say this loud and clear. In the new economy, people will be the end in themselves. They will no longer be viewed as a metric or a number. In the new economy, mom and pop will be sought after. Because, after all, we all know that the verbiage of how you matter to company x is just verbiage. It’s merely eliciting a response for another end.

In the new economics, people will want to matter. They will flock to the place where they are known by name. And not just to tout the “community” of an establishment. Did you notice the subtlety of that one? No, people will know your name because they know you and you matter. Your name is not known just to brag that you matter and sell the belonging you too can have if you buy your next skinny latte with extra froth…hold the pandering.

We are not there yet because executives are still measuring. Measuring people. Yet, what the new economy will have to embrace is not a spreadsheet or a graph. They will be forced to embrace people. Not to grow their graph. But to grow their own soul.

On Conformity

As much as I hate to admit it, Christians push conformity. Conformity to the wrong things. Being shaped by a group and set of ideals is inherent to being part of a group–be it Christian, straight edge, atheist. But I am speaking about and to my tribe.

Over the years, I have had the privilege of being a part of several different denominations and have seen this shadow overtaking much of the piety of its adherents. It wasn’t meant to do so.

Do you homeschool? The correct answer depends on the group you’re talking to. Do you go on mission trips? Do you adopt? Do you run around incessantly from meeting to meeting showing how you are making an impact for the kingdom?

We have steered far off course when we get away from the simplicity of the Gospel. Of a life changed and being changed by the Gospel. That is, before Christ’s ascension, he said to merely teach all that he commanded. Yet. Yet, much of our passing on of information is not what Christ taught. They are various implications and applications of what he taught. And so,

Might I encourage you to be slow in conforming to the standards? Not just of popular culture, but of the popularity of whatever group you find yourself milling about. The shadow looms to block out the sun of joy and hope. It chokes out the simple call to humble obedience to Christ, changing out a yoke that not even the teachers can bear.