1.12.2010

Value Added in Community

I love the feeling of having been productive, and of having contributed something real to the efforts of a group. This is one of the greatest joys of life, in my opinion -- and I have wonderful memories of my years at Fremont Investment and Loan and of my years at Elmhurst Memorial Home Health Care/Services because I experienced in both places long stretches of being a part of productive teams of coworkers and managers.

This blog is mostly about faith and faith communities . . . but recently (partly because of Brian Borcher's interaction with me about my last two posts) I have been thinking about the kinds of communities I've been a part of, and cannot think of any faith community in my past or present that rivals the experience of being a part of the two workplaces I listed above. They model something that is missing in too many people in the faith communities I've been in: value added by each individual. There was a culture of creative responsibility and mutual respect that my faith communities have yet to emulate.

Now . . . faith communities are not work places for most of us. They are designed to care for those who cannot contribute added value, and that is as it should be. But those who can add value need to, and too often they do not. And even for those who are employed as ministerial or support staff, there are distortions in an understanding of the personal responsibility of each member of the community. The "paid staff" not only over-work, but they often discourage the contributions of work by volunteers -- for many reasons. (I will post next on some of my analysis of this "from the pew".) This is systemic sickness that is the fault of the laity as well as the paid staff, and creates sick churches with sick members.

None of this is new stuff to any of you, of course! It is as old as the Old Testament, and has been rehashed regularly throughout JudeoChristian history. The Protestant Work Ethic, the Priesthood of All Believers, the Body . . .

But my point is just this: I've posted years of posts on Christian Community and on Agape/Hesed and seemingly ignored WORK and PRODUCTIVITY. That was a huge distortion in everything I was trying to say! My ability to show any kind of godly lovingkindness or to participate in healthy community depends upon my ability to add value when THAT is my call. Economics and faith are much more directly tied in scripture than are sexuality and faith.

So I am going back to work on my IT stuff . . .

Where do you add value?

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