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Sunday, June 28, 2009

Work and Effectiveness

I'm reading a lovely book called Monastic Practices, by Charles Cummings. I discovered it when I was reading a book during my sabbatical titled Benedict's Way - and a particular passage from the Cummings book really resonated with me. (P.S. If you're looking for a good book to jumpstart your devotional life, go with Benedict's Way. I read through it twice during my sabbatical.)

I've only gotten through the first three chapters of Monastic Practices. I don't want to be in a hurry when I read it. The chapter on Work has stuck with me the most so far.

I usually have a tremendous need to get a lot done. I like being efficient. I like making lists, and checking things off those lists. I love the sense of accomplishment that comes after a big project is finished. I would not say that any of those things are necessarily bad... but they are deceptive in the ways I look to them for identity and success. This section from the book spoke deeply to me in this regard:
Jesus on the cross was in the position of one who could achieve nothing, who was totally unproductive. With his hands nailed to the cross, he was the picture of absolute powerlessness and uselessness. But simply by being there 'for love, and with trust in God's help,' Jesus redeemed the world. He redeemed us more efficaciously when he was powerless on the cross than when he was traveling about, preaching and working miracles.
My employment is a valuable thing. I have greatly enjoyed nearly everything about the jobs I have had. But I must remember that my greatest work does not come in what I do, but in who I am. Because that, more than anything else, shapes who I am eternally.
So if you're serious about living this new resurrection life with Christ, act like it. Pursue the things over which Christ presides. Don't shuffle along, eyes to the ground, absorbed with the things right in front of you. Look up, and be alert to what is going on around Christ—that's where the action is. See things from his perspective.

Your old life is dead. Your new life, which is your real life—even though invisible to spectators—is with Christ in God. He is your life. When Christ (your real life, remember) shows up again on this earth, you'll show up, too—the real you, the glorious you. Meanwhile, be content with obscurity, like Christ. (Colossians 3:1-4, The Message)

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