Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Self Examination

I believe that how we earn and manage money are spiritual practices. From time to time it is good to stop to take an inventory of how your beliefs about money and, more importantly, how your practices are working. That is pretty easy. Just calculate your net worth every month. If you understand and are comfortable with why the numbers are going up or down, most likely you are doing OK.

There is a harder test that involves an examination of the heart. Unfortunately for people (like me) who are at war with our sinful nature, examining the condition of my heart is much more difficult than measuring the increase or decrease of my investments.

Are you a good employee? If you were the boss would you hire yourself or would you hope for something better? When I was the night superintendent at a saw chain factory, it was my observation that one out five employees met the spiritual standard found in scripture.

Colossians Chapter 3
“Slaves, in all things obey those who are your masters on earth, not with external service, as those who merely please men, but with sincerity of heart, fearing the Lord. Whatever you do, do your work heartily, as for the Lord rather than for men, knowing that from the Lord you will receive the reward of the inheritance. It is the Lord Christ whom you serve.”

About three out of five employees were about as good as their employer. If they were provided with a decent wage, tolerable working conditions, and respectful supervision they were good employees. If they were treated badly, they behaved badly.

I observed about one out of five new hires were just bad employees. When I was a new supervisor, I wasted a lot of time trying to encourage these people to do better. Finally I realized that the best thing that can be done with a bad apple is to just throw it away. My job was winning the hearts and minds of the three. I could measure my performance by measuring their performance. The one employee who met God’s standard of excellence was just a blessing, one that I didn’t earn.

Who is your boss? Is it that micro-managing, manipulative creep who is making your life miserable or is the Lord of the Universe? Too often in my career I was working for man, not for my God.

I have written about the “Confucian Work Ethic” that is replacing the Protestant Work Ethic in my country. Do you think it accidental that Asians have the highest median average household income in the United States, over 34% higher than the average of all races? Some of these people have been my neighbors and coworkers. Some of them came to this country with nothing but the clothes on their backs. Unable to speak English, with nothing, some of them risked death or imprisonment to escape their homelands. In less than a generation some of them were living in my neighborhood. They were sending their children to some of the best colleges in our country. They were achieving the American dream.

It wasn’t because they were good Christians. Many of them are Buddhists or have no particular faith. However, God’s laws apply equally to all. I know that very unfair bad things happen to good people, but remember that if you are walking in God’s ways, even if you don’t know you are walking in God’s ways, you don’t need an even playing field to become a person of excellence.

Proverbs 13:4
The soul of the sluggard craves and gets nothing, while the soul of the diligent is richly supplied.

Proverbs 14:23
In all toil there is profit, but mere talk tends only to poverty.

Proverbs 12:24
The hand of the diligent will rule, while the slothful will be put to forced labor.

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