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  • Writer's pictureAndrew Comiskey

Dignify and Deploy 12: Workers

‘I’m change in His pocket. He can spend me any way He wants.’ John Wimber

Both Wimber and Karol Wojtyla died as apostolic Christian leaders wholly poured out for the Kingdom. ‘Retirement’ didn’t exist. Kingdom concerns drove them until they dropped. A high and humble discipline of working—of tent-making—undergirded their vocations; both fostered no sense of entitlement based upon pastoral leadership. Hard knock jobs were as much a part of their preparation for full-time ministry as any kind of formal education.

In truth, Wimber hadn’t much tolerance for ‘ministers’ who assumed a ‘calling’ and a paycheck because of academic readiness. His value-set? Authentic leaders are civilians laboring in the real world who just do the work of the Kingdom. If God blesses him or her with lots of followers, then one weighs how to adjust ‘tent-making’ as to attend faithfully to the burgeoning ministry at hand.

Then, if one evidently needs to lay down normal work for full-time ministry, he or she must work that much harder than those he or she disciples and serves. Why? The lay faithful give nights and weekends for the Kingdom. They don’t receive a penny. Why should ‘ministers’ live like those who clock-in and out after 40 hours? One ministers 40 hours as a baseline then freely gives most other time to the mission, just as volunteer workers build ‘church’ after their normal work.

Whereas evangelical John had a ‘show me the evidence’ of one’s full-time vocation, Catholic Wojtyla knew the path to the priesthood required rigorous academic education. Seminary involvement in Poland was a carefully kept secret under the Reich; priests-to-be studied and were tutored at night while working hard jobs in the day. That prevented their deportation to Germany while throwing Nazis off the scent of priestly aspirations.

Wojtyla saw purpose in tough jobs. He had several--a manual laborer, worker in a chemical plant—but he ‘mined’ deep meaning out of his job as blaster in a quarry. The work was physically dangerous, freezing in winter, and afforded him one 15-minute break a day. His early athletic and academic pursuits (drama, literature, languages) hadn’t prepared him for the quarry. He got tough and gained much respect for these working men. He began to forge an understanding of the suffering and dignity of workers.

As you recall, Jesus asked Wimber to lay down his career in music. Well-trained in lay leadership by Gunner, John and Carol worked hard evangelizing and making disciples. John took a job doing menial labor in a machine shop to feed his family. He had no aptitude for machines but could dirty himself cleaning. Perhaps he was better suited for a sales job--indeed he took one. The problem? His boss insisted John use subtle deception in making pitches. He refused and bargained with the boss that if he told the whole truth and still sold something he could keep the job. The day he was to be fired for no sales, he made one sale and stayed on. John ended up persuading his boss to reform his approach and to prosper. He did.

John knew the dignity of work and made his workplaces more dignified. In the meantime, his labor for the Kingdom was increasing and getting harder. The Holy Spirit began visiting him. John was beginning to discover how the Spirit of Jesus equips workers for the harvest.

‘The built-in tensions of work find their resolution in the transcendent dignity of the worker, who can never be reduced to a mere unit of production.’ Pope St. John Paul II

“Jesus, forgive us for any entitlement we feel for serving You. We are just poor servants who can never repay what You have given us. Thank You for loving us into fruit-bearing workers. Our accomplishments for You come from You. Grant us purpose too in our tent-making. Help us let You transform our good frustrating jobs into the school of the Holy Spirit.

Come Holy Spirit, liberate what is true and beautiful from what debases us. May we not settle but aspire to the dignity of our sexual humanity. May we grow into ‘mature expressions of the gift’ by helping others do the same. Deployed to dignify, we ‘harness the John force.’”


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