Wineskins Archive

February 10, 2014

Your Identity is Worth More Than a Hill of Beans (Mar-Apr 2003)

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by Greg Taylor
March-April, 2003

Beep. Beep. Beep. Your heart thumps. Your cell phone shows an urgent message. It’s Friday afternoon. Your week has been hectic. All week you’ve felt like a hamster on a running wheel. Your work is relentless. You punch the numbers to get the important voice mail.

You drive as you listen, glancing at the phone then back to the road—Yee-ouch! You swerve. Whew. Your children nearly lost their father to a telephone pole. But this message is important—looks like it’s from the office. You’ve got to retrieve it now. Not a second to spare. You drive with your knee and fumble for the weather report while waiting for voice mail to kick in. It’s from your assistant.

Seems there is a problem at the office. Your assistant has a message for you. Huh? Had a client come? You had forgotten about a meeting!? You anxiously call. Your pulse is speeding and so is your car. You’re late for your daughter’s program at school. You had promised to go.

Your assistant answers. “Good afternoon, Bill.”

You don’t have time for niceties.“Messages?”

“It’s the Phoenix office,” she says.

“OK. I’m coming.”

You turn the car around and head back to the office. You know what she’s talking about. You’ll return and put out the fire and grab the video camera that your wife had asked you to bring for the program. You had taken it in the office to charge and forgot it. Yes, Phoenix and video camera—you’d kill two stones with one bird, or something like that.

An hour later everything is settled down in the Phoenix office. You’d saved the day. You thump the steering wheel, forced to drive twenty-five miles an hour near the school. You screech the tires and stop in a spot near the entrance. The parking lot is nearly empty. A few children and their parents are holding hands on the way to their cars. You don’t see your wife’s mini-van. You dread going home to your daughter’s disappointment. Your wife is used to this and doesn’t want to talk about it anymore.

You look at your cell phone to check for calls. BATTERY LOW is flashing. The phone shuts completely off. You toss the dead phone in the seat next to you.


Are your batteries low? No one gets to the end of life and says, “I wish I had spent more time on the cell phone.” But we all run those batteries to a nub each week, don’t we? To some of us, our cell phone ringing says, “Someone needs me.” We want to be needed by others because it drives our identities. There is certainly nothing wrong with a healthy sense of being needed by others. When feeling needed, however, shifts to feeling important, we can easily fall into the sin of pride. Are we determined to feel busy because it makes us feel significant? Or do we intentionally do things that we know will not necessarily bring us power and significance but will be meaningful to others?

At the end of the day, we ought to ask ourselves this question: “Have I piled up beans of my own importance today, or have I surrendered my vocation to God?”

One way I try to slog off the mountain of my own importance is to realize how much of a hill of beans I’m piling up compared to God’s holy mountain, his work, the identity I find in him as one of his adopted children. When I focus my effort and identity into being a faithful child, an heir, an adopted child, then my work no longer feels like slave labor but work for my Lord. Rather than piling on beans of my own importance, I cry, “Abba, Father” (Galatians 3:26-4:7) and “Lord, help me do your work!”

In this issue we have focused on viewing our work as a calling, a vocation that can be holy to the Lord. We refuse to compartmentalize our lives, to pile beans in one corner all week long then claim on Sunday that beans aren’t important. This issue is a caution to those in both “ministry-related” and “secular” jobs not to elevate our own significance so that we only touch our families and friends when we come off the mountain of our own importance for the occasional day off. I am guilty of this arrogance.

Is our identity shaped more by our work and our bosses, or by our faith and our Lord? Are we piling up beans? Or, are we offering our work before the mountain of the Lord? We and our vocations—our calling—are worth more to God than a hill of beans.

We are God’s heirs. Therefore, we bring God’s holiness into the most mundane tasks, all day, every day. We do not leave God out of our work. God’s work is our work. It’s a family business. It’s a calling.

Beep. Beep. Beep. I think it’s yours. But I thought your phone battery had died—who could that be?New Wineskins

Greg Taylor is managing editor of NEW WINESKINS magazine.

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