Sunday, March 28, 2010

Christian Workers: Are they different?

I was in the business world for thirty years. I have interviewed hundreds of applicants for jobs. I have hired and I reluctantly fired. I have trained many new employees. I have worked with believers and unbelievers. However, in my experience there has been no consistent difference between the behavior of those who professed Christianity and those who didn’t. Sometimes the unbelievers acted like Christians, and sometimes the Christians acted like unbelievers. Sometimes the Christians acted with exemplary character, and sometimes their character was embarrassing. But, in my experience the difference between Christian and non-Christian was not consistently discernable. For example, I do not know any businesses that seeks to hire Evangelicals because there is a consistent pattern of enhanced honesty, diligence, dependability, or teachabellness. That is tragic. Something is broken.

It has not always been this way. During the Reformation of the sixteenth century a group of Protestants, known as the Anabaptists, split from Roman Catholicism and the emerging Lutherans. In the sixteenth century everyone was baptized at birth. However, the Anabaptists believed that believer’s baptism was the appropriate way to respond to a conversion. The name “Anabaptists” referred to this belief.


The Anabaptists had some peculiar beliefs. Some rejected the Old Testament. Others were pacifists, or rejected the differences between men and women. For these beliefs, and especially their practice of rebaptism, they were bitterly persecuted. Many Anabaptists excelled in moral holiness. Nowhere was this more conspicuous than in their work habits. They were thrifty, loyal, hard working, humble, productive, and obedient to their employers. They handled responsibility well. They were trustworthy.

In his book, The Anabaptist Story, William Estep describes their exceptional work ethic. To prove it he quotes the criticism of one of their Roman Catholic enemies.

“Anabaptists who come to the Lords in Moravia are preferred before others. The Lords do not desire to read or even see the certificates of their previous training being satisfied to know that the elders of the church considered them qualified to fill the position in question…Is not this blindness? Never do they promote [Roman Catholics] without definite knowledge concerning them, and yet such favors do they show the Anabaptists.”

The Catholic critic continued,

“The Anabaptists have the greatest favor amongst the nobility. They have the preference as managers of estates, be it dairy or wheat farms, mills, tile yards, gardens, or anything else. They are appointed by them to high positions in the castles such as manager, steward, and keeper… The Lords must pay the Anabaptists larger salaries and wages than the [Catholics] who have formerly held the same position.”

The Anabaptist story is a reason for this blog.  I want someone to complain that Evangelical Protestants are getting all the high paying jobs because their moral behavior is so exemplary. I want to hear Mormons, Jehovah’s Witnesses, Buddhists, and secular unbelievers complain that all the good jobs go to Evangelical Protestants, that the gospel has affected them so powerfully that they are more trustworthy, more loyal, more productive, and more dependable than non-Evangelicals.

That should be the case. The gospel should make us humble, hard working, productive, teachable, and easy to work with. It should inspire trustworthiness, gratitude, and a servant’s towards our employers, customers, and our fellow employees. That this is the exception, and not consistently true, should trouble us. That employers throughout North America are not eagerly seeking Evangelicals to fill their positions speaks loudly about the failure of the church to preach and apply the gospel to a very large segment of our daily lives—our secular vocations.

Lets ask God for grace to bring glory, praise, and honor to him through our vocations.

1 comment:

  1. This just came across my wire, and I thought you might be interested. http://amishbusinessbook.com/

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