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Omaha, Nebraska, United States
I am more and more convinced that most congregations die from a staggering lack of imagination. Let's change that. Let's imagine a creative future with God and each other together. Drop me a line on email or leave a comment if you have thoughts on God, Jesus, congregations, the church or whatever.... I look forward to our conversations.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

What makes work "work?"

As I sit here beginning to write there are four men in the church parking lot ouside my window "working." They work for a crane service and are all involved in the process of putting shingles, scaffolding, and whatnot on the roof of the church. They are working. So am I, but there are differences.

First, all four of them are getting paid (I assume) to do their work. No one pays me to write this fact, when I suggested it once, the people who were paying me to do other things asked, with no hint of irony, "Why they would do that?" I suggested that people have been known to make a living writing, but to them this is not "church development." You now know why I no longer work for them.

Secondly, they are is 29 degrees outside...69 here in the house. I can see their breath from my window.

Thirdly, here's what the four are doing right now. One guy is manouvering the crane from the cab; guy # 2 is standing there watching him from the parking lot; guy # 3 is watching guy # 2; guy # 4 is watching from the roof. When the load needs to be engaged or disengaged, guy #s 2 and 4 hook and unhook...I have yet to even see guy # 3 move. But if we asked them if they went to "work" today, I am sure even guy # 3 would say yes...even if he hasn't done anything. (It is also quite possible that guy # 3 makes more money than the other three guys because he is in "management" or maybe even owns the company.) I am typing...but what I am really doing is thinking.

I get paid, not to drive cranes, hook or unhook material to cranes, or even manage crane operations...I get paid to think. For people who posit a dichotomy between thinking and doing, this is hard to understand. Most of us understand that we get paid to "do" something. Therefore, if "doing" is the opposite of "thinking," than someone who is thinking is--by definition--"doing" nothing. So, when someone like me gets paid to think, in that mindset, I am getting paid to "do" nothing. (Because thinking is doing nothing.)

Jesus seems to have understood that thinking and doing are not opposites. Whether Jesus understood that one could get paid for thinking I will not surmise, but he did seem to grasp that if you cannot think right you probably will not do right. To paraphrase Spike Lee, in order to do the right thing you must be thinking along the right way...

This is why repentance is so important in the Christian tradition. Repentance is not changing from doing one thing to doing another--repentance is changing your thinking from one way to another way of thinking. So you "repent" not when you start "doing" something different, but when you start "thinking" that what you are doing is not God's preferred future for you, or the world, or your neighbor. And when you start thinking a diffrent way Jesus seems to assume you will start doing different things.

So "work" is not just about what you do...because guy # 3 still has not done much...but he might be thinking...and that's work too.

May your tables be full, and your conversations be true.

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