In our previous blog, we asked the question, "Who wants a promotion?" Most people would jump at the chance. But why? What are the attractions of a promotion?

We are probing these issues to try to see how much our thinking about work has been distorted by the secular culture on one hand, and by a super-spiritual dualistic view of the Christian life on the other hand. The proverbial devil and the deep blue sea. Both are killers.

There are many reasons why promotion is a good thing. It certainly opens up doors to new spheres of influence, perhaps with people who in turn may have a broader impact on people and outcomes. But we saw last time how pernicious this can be when it get's hijacked by a sincere, but overly religious, desire to get promoted in order to create a platform for a 'spiritual' agenda. This is the lie that evangelism and Bible Studies and prayer meetings are really "the Lord's work", as if serving a customer at the supermarket checkout is not.

But for now let's start at a more basic level: promotion usually brings more money. We are too spiritual to admit the place that factor has in our thinking that promotion is good. But attempts are made to see 'kingdom significance' in bigger salaries - for they enable us to give more to gospel causes! That's a good thing, but it brings us back to the paradigm we have been considering: seeing work as a means to an end. In our dualistic mindset, that end has to be 'spiritual' and higher.

Without spiritualizing it at all, getting more money is usually a good thing. The Bible calls it 'blessing'. 20% of the pay-rise may be put aside in savings. Great! Perhaps 20% of it might be given to missions. Fantastic! In which case, 60% of the extra income is spent by the person just promoted. And that might not be bad either!

Maybe he starts to take his wife to eat regularly at a particularly fine expensive restaurant for which they begin to develop a taste. They have a great time eating great food - how un-spiritual is that? But the money they are spending on 'themselves' is also providing work and wages for the waitress who serves them; she is going to be unemployed if everybody were to think that the 'spiritual' thing to do is to spend no more than $5 for a night out at MacDonald's. And the gourmet chef at the restaurant will be out of work if the world decides that Burger King is as good as it gets in the fine dining department. Was it really God's intention that a world that was to be filled with his glory, seen in the creative ways that human beings take the raw materials he has provided to make truly beautiful things to His glory and for the pleasure of his creatures whom he loves to lavish with good things, would be best represented by an entire population on minimum wage whose idea of a good night out stopped at a fast-food restaurant?

Yes - we live in an age of terrible inequity. Our newly-promoted, high-earning, fine-dining Christian has a responsibility to give to the poor. But much of that giving may be in giving them work as he spends the money he has received. Charity and spirituality are more subtle to define than our crude dualism will allow.

The Bible is clear: getting paid for good work is a good thing. Paul tells us that if our employer doesn't pay us enough, God will make it up to us in the end. A pay packet represents a good gift from a good God who loves to give us all kinds of things to enjoy. It's a part of how he tells the world that in his eyes work is a good thing.


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