Wednesday, September 26, 2007

In the Mix

God's been using my job to teach me a lot lately and I want to honor Him for that. Often the only thing to praise God for with a job in collections is that it meets your needs. However, I've been actively trying to learn all the life lessons I can from improving my teaching skills, to developing my leadership abilities with the opportunities He's given me. Since back in my intern days of mocking John Maxwell, I've never believed that the church should be run like a business (and Fressel still hates me for mocking his boy); nevertheless, working both as a collector and even more so now as a supervisor/trainer for new hires and manager trainee I've learned how to be more assertive and direct (two character traits I've known I'd need to develop for years). Yet, even these gains, bring with them more challenges...the ever present need for balance (yes, I can use that word 5 years later having detoxed from college-and I don't mean alchohol). And in all of that God had reinforced some even more fundamental lessons:

1) The constant need for repentance (something I've been doing a lot of lately). Whether it be for my impatience with teaching somebody whose a little slow on the uptake - impatience generated by underlying arrogance because they're not getting it when I teach and the audacity that I might have to adapt my style any further (as you can see double repentance here) - or the use of my tongue when discussing some of our low performers with my peers...repentance has been a common theme.

2) The constant need for balance. Yeah, I alluded to it above, but I'll elaborate. It's easy to excel in the corporate world by being direct, not being afraid to execute and making good business decisions in a cold and calcuated way. It's a bit more complex (and at times impossible) to do all that and incarnate the atonement simultaneously. This was something originally brought to my attention by a Tim Keller lecture and again more recently in McKnight's book A Community Called Atonement (and some influence in my thinking from Drama of Doctrine here too - that book continues to have a paradigm shifting effect on me - impovisation and all that). As I've moved into increasingly managerial roles trying to exemplify Kingdom values and flesh out the atonement has become increasingly complex. Nevertheless, I've been provided with AMPLE opportunity to apply the Gospel to the workaday world, for which I'm thankful. Nothing more fun (or rigorous) than the missional task of contextualiztion.

3) Life experience. I don't know how else to title this, but the point is I have a FAR better grasp of what life is like for everday blue collar workers - cubicle jockey's if you will. Since this demographic often makes up a large piece of the pie in many churches, I can far better empathize now (and I finally understand why people think Dilbert is hilarious). It comes back to contextualization because being there myself, I can relate and offer concrete illustrations. Discussing contextualization of the Gospel in the seminary class with a bunch of other guys with no kids and whose wife's pay all the bills (yup, that was me) is entirely different from slugging it out in the trenches everyday, depriving your best hours from your family to go support them by dragging yourself to a job you don't like to do, made up of tasks that are hard to justify. Surely there can be more than this; and now I can say yes there is. If you can find meaning and value in collections, you can find it just about anywhere.

Having said all that I have a LOOOOOOOOOONG way to go and appreciate your prayers.


Mike Osborne said...

great post. refreshing and challenging as I contemplate getting hired into the 'work-a-day' world as a substitute teacher. I will pray aggressively for you in the Spirit.

Russell W. White said...


Thanks for the comments and for expressing the continued desires and struggles of all of us.

Let us all be reciprocating our prayers for one another so that we might persevere.

Nate Mihelis said...

Indeed, appreciate all of your prayers boys!

jeileenbaylor said...

I know i'm one of the girls, but I just wanted to know that Tim and I are praying for you too... and now we know how to pray for you more specifically. It does look like the Lord is teaching you a lot "In the Valley", as the Sovereign Grace Song puts it so well :o) Thanks for sharing!