Protecting Others

In June Jana and I got to attend the Tokens Show. Again, if you ever get a chance to go to Tokens you really need to go. Put it on your bucket list.

Tokens is a theological variety show. Host Lee Camp is a cross between John Howard Yoder and Garrison Keillor. And the theological theme of the show in June--"Working on a Building"--was work.

As a part of the show Lee was interviewing David Miller, author of God at Work. David has done a lot of work reflecting on the intersections between work, mission and Christian vocation. David's take home point was that work, all work, should be viewed as mission and vocation.

But what I found most interesting in David's interview was something else. Specifically, David noted that not all work is bliss. Some work environments are toxic, abusive, dysfunctional and oppressive. What does mission look like in those workplaces?

David shared that he had worked in some pretty abusive work environments and his mission in those workplaces, as he came to understand it, was to provide protection for others. In abusive and toxic work environments we can shield, protect, and provide safe havens for co-workers. Maybe it's because you have a certain scope of power and can use that power humanely and restoratively. Maybe it's simply that you are a healing and welcoming presence at the watercooler. Regardless, your mission in that toxic work environment is to be a haven of protection and healing.

Many of you are doing exactly that today. Work sucks. It's a toxic place. The boss is abusive, a petty tyrant. But for as long as you are there in that place you spread your wings and protect those around you.

And for doing that for others I want to honor you today.

Fight that good fight my sisters and brothers.

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6 thoughts on “Protecting Others”

  1. One thing that I'm more aware of now, since learning about it, is how much scapegoating there is going on, especially at the work place. Wow. It's everywhere. "Lord, help me...."

  2. I love the intersection of work and ministry. I work in the public schools, an affluent area, with 5th graders. There are so many little broken and sad people in our world. I like your point about providing protection too.

  3. When I realized that my vocation as a public school teacher was my mission, it when from having to be protected from me (I thought I should fail as many as possible, make it hard) to me protecting my kids.(its my job to make sure they all are successful.) While I was typing this a kid just came up and asked if anyone ever told me how much they appreciated me.) Cool huh!

  4. During my one year of office work experience, I was astonished how easily I fell into the traps of gossip and talking behind people's backs. It was always easier to join in the fight against the least-liked person in the office, especially when the one leading the whispering campaign was my boss. I'm ashamed of how little resistance I provided. Thanks for the reminder, Richard.

  5. Not much related to your article, but it did remind me of a great gospel folk song:

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