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WORK


Sermon Illustrations

WORK

"The hardest thing about milking cows," observed a farmer, " is that they never stay milked."

Bits & Pieces, August 18, 1994, Page 3.


If you're into bumper-sticker philosophy, you've probably seen the axiom, "I owe, I owe, so off to work I go." For a vast portion of the workforce, that's the best reason they can muster for going to the job each day. According to one poll, only 43 percent of American office workers are satisfied with their jobs. In Japan, the figure dips to 17 percent. In the first century, Christian slaves had even less reason to be enthusiastic about their work. But Paul gave them a way to grasp a glimpse of glory amid the grind. He wanted them to "adorn the doctrine of God," that is, to show the beauty of their faith in Christ by how they work (Ti. 2:10).

A significant and often overlooked way that we serve God is in our everyday tasks. Martin Luther understood this when he wrote, "The maid who sweeps her kitchen is doing the will of God just as much as the monk who prays -- not because she may sing a Christian hymn as she sweeps but because God loves clean floors. The Christian shoemaker does his Christian duty not by putting little crosses on the shoes, but by making good shoes, because God is interested in good craftsmanship."

Our Daily Bread, September 5, 1994.


Do you ever feel overworked, over-regulated, under-leisured, under-benefited? Take heart. This notice was found in the ruins of a London office building. It was dated 1852.

1. This firm has reduced the hours of work, and the clerical staff will now only have to be present between the hours of 7 a.m. and 6 p.m. weekdays.

2. Clothing must be of a sober nature. The clerical staff will not disport themselves in raiment of bright colors, nor will they wear hose unless in good repair.

3. Overshoes and topcoats may not be worn in the office, but neck scarves and headwear may be worn in inclement weather.

4. A stove is provided for the benefit of the clerical staff. Coal and wood must be kept in the locker. It is recommended that each member of the clerical staff bring four pounds of coal each day during the cold weather.

5. No member of the clerical staff may leave the room without permission from the supervisor.

6. No talking is allowed during business hours.

7. The craving for tobacco, wine, or spirits is a human weakness, and as such is forbidden to all members of the clerical staff.

8. Now that the hours of business have been drastically reduced, the partaking of food is allowed between 11:30 and noon, but work will not on any account cease.

9. Members of the clerical staff will provide their own pens. A new sharpener is available on application to the supervisor.

10. The supervisor will nominate a senior clerk to be responsible for the cleanliness of the main office and the private office. All boys and juniors will report to him 40 minutes before prayers and will remain after closing hours for similar work. Brushes, brooms, scrubber, and soap are provided by the owners.

11. The owners recognize the generosity of the new labor laws, but will expect a great rise in output of work to compensate for these near Utopian conditions.

Bits & Pieces, May 26, 1994, Page 13-15.


A manager and a sales rep stood looking at a map on which colored pins indicated the company representative in each area. "I'm not going to fire you, Wilson," the manager said, "but I'm loosening your pin a bit just to emphasize the insecurity of your situation."

Bits & Pieces, May 26, 1994, Page 9.


WORK - COLOSSIANS 3:17

"Do all in the name of the Lord Jesus" (Col. 3:17).

When I was a boy, I felt it was both a duty and a privilege to help my widowed mother make ends meet by finding employment in vacation time, on Saturdays and other times when I did not have to be in school. For quite a while I worked for a Scottish shoemaker, or "cobbler," as he preferred to be called, an Orkney man, named Dan Mackay. He was a forthright Christian and his little shop was a real testimony for Christ in the neighborhood. The walls were literally covered with Bible texts and pictures, generally taken from old-fashioned Scripture Sheet Almanacs, so that look where one would, he found the Word of God staring him in the face. There were John 3:16 and John 5:24, Romans 10:9, and many more.

On the little counter in front of the bench on which the owner of the shop sat, was a Bible, generally open, and a pile of gospel tracts. No package went out of that shop without a printed message wrapped inside. And whenever opportunity offered, the customers were spoken to kindly and tactfully about the importance of being born again and the blessedness of knowing that the soul is saved through faith in Christ. Many came back to ask for more literature or to inquire more particularly as to how they might find peace with God, with the blessed results that men and women were saved, frequently right in the shoe shop.

It was my chief responsibility to pound leather for shoe soles. A piece of cowhide would be cut to suite, then soaked in water. I had a flat piece of iron over my knees and, with a flat-headed hammer, I pounded these soles until they were hard and dry. It seemed an endless operation to me, and I wearied of it many times.

What made my task worse was the fact that, a block away, there was another shop that I passed going and coming to or from my home, and in it sat a jolly, godless cobbler who gathered the boys of the neighborhood about him and regaled them with lewd tales that made him dreaded by respectable parents as a menace to the community. Yet, somehow, he seemed to thrive and that perhaps to a greater extent than my employer, Mackay. As I looked in his window, I often noticed that he never pounded the soles at all, but took them from the water, nailed them on, damp as they were, and with the water splashing from them as he drove each nail in.

One day I ventured inside, something I had been warned never to do. Timidly, I said, "I notice you put the soles on while still wet. Are they just as good as if they were pounded?" He gave me a wicked leer as he answered, "They come back all the quicker this way, my boy!"

"Feeling I had learned something, I related the instance to my boss and suggested that I was perhaps wasting time in drying out the leather so carefully. Mr. Mackay stopped his work and opened his Bible to the passage that reads, "Whatsoever ye do, do all to the glory of god."

"Harry," he said, "I do not cobble shoes just for the four bits and six bits (50c or 75c) that I get from my customers. I am doing this for the glory of God. I expect to see every shoe I have ever repaired in a big pile at the judgment seat of Christ, and I do not want the Lord to say to me in that day, 'Dan, this was a poor job. You did not do your best here.' I want Him to be able to say, 'Well done, good and faithful servant.'"

Then he went on to explain that just as some men are called to preach, so he was called to fix shoes, and that only as he did this well would his testimony count for God. It was a lesson I have never been able to forget. Often when I have been tempted to carelessness, and to slipshod effort, I have thought of dear, devoted Dan Mackay, and it has stirred me up to seek to do all as for Him who died to redeem me.

H. A. Ironside, Illustrations of Bible Truth, Moody Press, 1945, pp. 37-39.


The 5 Stages of a Project

Stage 1: Excitement, euphoria

Stage 2: Disenchantment

Stage 3: Search for the guilty

Stage 4: Punishment of the innocent

Stage 5: Distinction for the uninvolved

MSC Health Action News, April, 1993.


Nine workplace attitudes bosses hate:

NMJ--not my job

NMM--Need more money

WCT--Wastes company time

PPP--Promises, promises, promises

NMH--Needs more help

ACD--Always complaining and disagreeable

CWS--Clock watcher's syndrome

TTM--The trouble maker

SRM--Supports rumor mill

Spokesman Review, March 18, 1993.


Architect Frank Lloyd Wright once told of an incident that may have seemed insignificant at the time, but had a profound influence on the rest of his life. The winter he was 9, he went walking across a snow-covered field with his reserved, no-nonsense uncle. As the two of them reached the far end of the field, his uncle stopped him. He pointed out his own tracks in the snow, straight and true as an arrow's flight, and then young Frank's tracks meandering all over the field.

"Notice how your tracks wander aimlessly from the fence to the cattle to the woods and back again," his uncle said. "And see how my tracks aim directly to my goal. There is an important lesson in that."

Years later the world-famous architect liked to tell how this experience had greatly contributed to his philosophy in life.  "I determined right then," he'd say with a twinkle in his eye, "not to miss most things in life, as my uncle had." 

Focus on the Family letter, September 1992, Page 14.


Average number of jobs an American worker has held by age 40: 8

Charis Conn (Ed.), What Counts: The Complete Harper's Index.


Women who never have children enjoy the equivalent of an extra three months a year in leisure time, says Susan Lang, author of Women Without Children. If that figure seems high, remember that the average mother spends 3.5 more hours a week doing housework than would a woman without children, plus 11 hours a week on child-related activities. This adds up to an additional 754 hours of work every year--the equivalent of three months of 12-hour, 5-day work weeks. 

Signs of the Times, May 1992, p. 6.


When the company founded by Andrew Carnegie was taken over by the U.S. Steel Corporation in 1901 it acquired as one of its obligations a contract to pay the top Carnegie executive, Charles M. Schwab, the then unheard of minimum sum of $1,000,000. J.P. Morgan of U.S. Steel was in a quandary about it. The highest salary on record was then $100,000. He met with Schwab, showed him the contract and hesitatingly asked what could be done about it. 

"This," said Schwab, as he took the contract and tore it up.  That contract had paid Schwab $1,300,000 the year before. "I didn't care what salary they paid me," Schwab later told a Forbes magazine interviewer. "I was not animated by money motives. I believed in what I was trying to do and I wanted to see it brought about. I cancelled that contract without a moment's hesitation. Why do I work? I work for just the pleasure I find in work, the satisfaction there is in developing things, in creating. Also, the associations business begets. The person who does not work for the love of work, but only for money, is not likely to make money nor to find much fun in life." 

Bits and Pieces, May, 1991, p. 2.


The work of a Beethoven, and the work of a charwoman, become spiritual on precisely the same condition, that of being offered to God, of being done humbly "as to the Lord." This does not, of course, mean that it is for anyone a mere toss-up whether he should sweep rooms or compose symphonies. A mole must dig to the glory of God and a cock must crow. 

 

C.S. Lewis, The Weight of Glory.

 


There are three kinds of workers. For example, when a piano is to be moved, the first kind gets behind and pushes, the second pulls and guides, and the third grabs the piano stool. 

 

Source Unknown.

 


The first governor-general of Australia was a man by the name of Lord Hopetoun. One of his most cherished possessions was a 300 year old ledger he had inherited from John Hope, one of his ancestors. Hope had owned a business in Edinburgh, where he first used this old ledger. When Lord Hopetoun received it, he noticed that it had inscribed on its front page this prayer, "O Lord, keep me and this book honest!"

 

Source Unknown.

 


 

A retired friend became interested in the construction of an addition to a shopping mall. Observing the activity regularly, he was especially impressed by the conscientious operator of a large piece of equipment. The day finally came when my friend had a chance to tell this man how much he'd enjoyed watching his scrupulous work. Looking astonished, the operator replied, "You're not the supervisor?" 

 

Howard A. Stein in Reader's Digest.

 


When given a choice of two different career paths, 78% of men and women surveyed opted for flexible full-time hours with more time left over for family pursuits and slower on-the-job advancement.

. . only 13% decided on the traditional work ethic--inflexible hours and a faster climb up the career-success ladder.

 Robert Half, in Homemade, June, 1990.


The average employee spends 14.9 minutes a day making personal phone calls. On an annual basis that adds up to 62 hours--a work week and a half. 

1989, Success.


Percentage of middle-level executives who spend 50 or more hours per week on their jobs: 77 Who spend 60 or more hours each week: 26. 

Roper Organization for U.S. News & World Report, 1/16/89.


My grandfather once told me that there are two kinds of people: those who do the work and those who take the credit. He told me to try to be in the first group; there was less competition there.

Indira Gandhi, Bits and Pieces, April 1990, p. 11.


Each day across the USA 50,000 people quit their jobs. In a recent survey of workers across the USA, nearly 85% said that they could work harder of the job. More than half claimed they could double their effectiveness "if (they) wanted to." 

Managing the Equity Factor, R Huseman, J Hatfield, 1989.


In an elevator, "I don't know what makes the boss tick, but I sure know what makes him explode." 

Orben's Current Comedy.


About six years ago, I was speaking at a luncheon held in the civic auditorium of a city in Oklahoma. I settled myself at my place at the head table. I picked up my fork and noticed that two rose-petaled radishes adorned my salad plate. Someone had take the time to pretty up two radishes, just for me. Then I noticed that each salad at the head table had two neatly curled radishes. I turned to the lady sitting to my right. "I'm impressed by the radishes, " I said. "You're impressed by what?" she asked. "The radishes," I said. "Look, each salad plate at our table has curled radishes." "Yes," she said, exercising a questioning smile. "They're pretty." "They're more than pretty," I said. Someone took special care to do these." "Don't they all have them?" she asked, gazing out at the tables. I looked and was astonished. Each salad plate was adorned with two curled radishes! "They are curled! That took a lot of time!" "I'm not on the planning committee, but Gertrude is," my table mate responded. She turned to get the attention of Gertrude, three chairs down. "Mrs. George wants to ask you something about the radishes, "she whispered. "The what?" Gertrude mouthed "The RA- DI-SHES!" "Is there something wrong with your radishes?" she asked. "No. They are fine. I just thought it was nice to have them all curled." "Oh, Marietta does those." "All of them?" I knew the head count in the room and was astonished. "That's almost eight hundred radishes!" "Yes, but Marietta wants to do it. Would you like to meet her? She's in the kitchen." So Gertrude and I went into the kitchen, and there I met Marietta, the lady of the radishes. "Gertrude tells me you curled all those radishes. They're lovely. Each salad looks so...festive." "I don't mind doing it. It just takes time," Marietta replied. I didn't know what more to say so I left. 

    Later, I spoke, and there was an encouraging response. Afterward, ladies scurried past me with murmured greetings, and a few lingered to speak of God in their lives. When we finished, it was raining heavily so we hurried across the parking lot to the car. Through the rain, I could see a lady, carrying a large polka-dot umbrella that had collapsed on one side waiting by our car. It was Marietta! She was smiling as though we had found her on a sunny day in an especially delightful garden. "I had to see you. I heard your speech. It was good!" she said. "I have to go home now." 

   I slipped inside the car. Marietta crouched down close to the window and called to me, "Just remember this. You keep telling people about Jesus, and I'll keep curling the radishes." The rain and my tears splattered the picture of her face as we started to back out of the driveway. Ah, dear Marietta, I haven't forgotten. We are to do our jobs in the love of him who does all things well. 

Jeanette Clift George, Travel Tips From A Reluctant Traveler, 1987.


There is nothing boring in life except ourselves. The most humble work does not have to be boring. I remember Madame Duval, the old woman who cleaned the floor in my place in Gargenville. I think of her with profound respect and reverence. She was 80 years old. One day she knocked at my door and said, "Mademoiselle, I know you don't like to be disturbed, but the floor, come and see it; it shines!" In my mind, Stravinsky and Madame Duval will appear before the Lord for the same reason. Each had done what he does with all his consciousness. When I said this to Stravinsky, who knew Madame Duval, he said, "How you flatter me, for when I do something, I have something to gain. But she, she has only the work to be well done." 

Nadia Boulanger, pianist and teacher, in Wisdom for our Time, edited by James Nelson (Norton).


God gives the birds their food, but He doesn't throw it into their nests.

Traditional.


I never like to drink coffee on the job because then I toss and turn at my desk all day. 

Gladys Coudy, quoted by Matt Weinstock in Los Angeles Times.


Time theft--deliberate waste and abuse of company time costs the U.S. economy over $120 billion a year. This loss is three times more than it is for recognized business crime. At some companies 20-40% of employee time is stolen. Office employees are 30% worse than blue-collar workers, perhaps because supervision isn't as close. Workers under 30 are the biggest offenders. Watch out for executives who set bad examples. If the boss is a time thief, employees will be too. 

Creative Management, in Homemade, May, 1985.


The evidence is convincing that the better our relationships are at home, the more effective we are in our careers. If we're having difficulty with a loved one, that difficulty will be translated into reduced performance on the job. In studying the millionaires in America (U.S. News and World Report), a picture of the "typical" millionaire is an individual who has worked eight to ten hours a day for thirty years and is still married to his or her high school or college sweetheart. A New York executive search firm, in a study of 1365 corporate vice presidents, discovered that 87% were still married to their one and only spouse and that 92% were raised in two-parent families.

The evidence is overwhelming that the family is the strength and foundation of society. Strengthen your family ties and you'll enhance your opportunity to succeed. 

Zig Ziglar in Homemade, March 1989.


The sign in the store window read: NO HELP WANTED. As two men passed by, one said to the other, "You should apply--you'd be great."

Principles regarding work, Decision-making and the Will of God, p. 336.


One researcher has estimated that 50-80% of working Americans are in a job that does not match their abilities and is therefore unfulfilling. That may well be the force behind the statistic that the average worker will change careers two or three times before retirement. 

Cynthia Spence in Homemade, May, 1989.


How common is employee dishonesty? According to one recent survey: Falsifying time sheets was admitted by 5.8% of workers. Stealing merchandise was admitted by 6.6%. Among people working in retail stores, 57% said they abused their employee-discount privileges. 

Dr. John Clark, in Homemade, Nov, 1985.



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