Loving Well: My Influential Women and Wal-Mart – John

Some time ago in Wal-Mart, a concept so simple, so authentic, and so unexpected appeared and reoriented my actions towards others. While standing in the check-out line with my mother, we took notice of an elderly women: she and her choice of hanging-plant were waiting behind us. Considering the number of our items, my mother insisted this women take our place in line, a courtesy to which the matriarch expressed her gratefulness. She proceeded to open her check book to purchase her hanging-plant, except she had misplaced her pen; once more, my mother extended a simple token of courtesy by offering a pen – again, a courtesy to which the matriarch expressed her gratefulness.

Both instances, this elderly women had an odd way of expressing her thankfulness: she was sincere. Despite my mother’s actions being relatively simple, this women responded with the most sincere “thank you.” I counted this as a lesson learned that younger generations have lost the art of gratefulness, or, at the least, expressing gratitude; my mother and I then checked out and returned to our vehicle – where we found the elderly women placing the hanging-plant into her trunk. My mother offered a third extension of grace by taking the women’s cart to the return. This elderly women put forth her most genuine thank you thus far and shared with my mother her experience with cancer: she, at that time, warred against the last stages and dreaded returning her cart. My mother’s simple, authentic, and unexpected actions relieved our new friend of unseen pain.

Le mama of me.

Le mama of me.

My mother actions spurred actions of simple grace within me – it is simple because the recipients neither appear to need it nor is the grace extravagant. My mother did nothing revolutionary or difficult, and she could have just as well held her place in line, let the cashier give the women a pen, and we would have left the parking lot first without ever knowing whom we were parked beside. My mother saved an old lady only five minutes and a scribble of ink, but it granted respite and a smile to someone who may not have even had the courage to express her pain.

Burdens plague everyone; some are positive and some are negative – but nonetheless we are a burdened people. A simple, encouraging gesture can lessen the burdens we share. As I noted, the women at Wal-Mart did not appear to be in great need: she was old, and the soon-to-be-her plant was probably mentally preparing to hang above the lady’s porch- no apparent struggle. Grace is non-discriminatory because it undeserved; simple is non-specialized because anyone can do it – our simple grace is doable and for everyone.

 

Law-Avoiding Citizen: Workplace Conduct

“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law. And those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. If we live by the Spirit, let us also walk by the Spirit.” – Paul, from Galatians 5:22-25 (ESV)

For the Christian living by the Spirit and thereby walking by the Spirit, a dichotomy between Christian-ethic and work-ethic cannot exist. The ethos of Christian faith epitomized in Galatians 5, the fruit of the Spirit, reveals the heart-condition of a believer. A Christian, like a tree, produces fruit according to its kind; if the fruit of the Spirit is absent from a believer’s spiritual limbs, that believer may be assumed to be a species of tree other than that of the Spirit. Living by the Spirit symbolizes the spiritual, life-giving blood of a believer; walking by the Spirit symbolizes the motion enacted by that spiritual, life-giving blood. Therefore, when an authentic Christian walks into the workplace, he will be walking in by the Spirit.

5311418867_1ff0ebf7df

The fruit of the Spirit stems from healthy, Spirit-filled roots; thence love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control are neither guidelines nor rules: they are results. Thus, the fruit of the Spirit is not solely a mark of the perennial practice of virtue, which one can stop practicing; rather, the fruit of the Spirit is the hallmark of spiritual character, inundated by an idyllic cooperation with the Holy Spirit. Furthermore, results of the Spirit are neither severable nor discretionary once one engages in the business setting. An authentic, Spirit-filled, working Christian will:

  • Value peace with co-workers
  • Seek joy in work
  • Love even the surliest manager and/or subordinate
  • Understand patience with deadlines, new employees, and frustrating employees
  • Display kindness to both customers and co-workers
  • Strive for goodness in quality of work
  • Demonstrate faithfulness behind closed doors, when filing documents, or dealing with money
  • Exist in gentleness during both serene and tumultuous atmospheres
  • Exercise self-control­ when tensions tighten or a customer is most assuredly not right

4267332510_7229a0a729“Against such things there is no law…” surmises Paul’s emphasis on freedom in Christ, which is the context of Galatians 5. Likewise, following after the Spirit’s leading frees us from striving toward a standard of business conduct; following the Spirit’s leading generates a new standard of business conduct. This phenomenon occurs because following the Spirit is not following; rather, following the Spirit is walking because of Him. So, the Christian, living and walking by the Spirit, cannot divorce Christian-ethic and work-ethic.