The Olympics and Work

10 Aug

If you are anything like me, you’ve spent the better part of the last two weeks, watching the 2012 Summer Olympics. These are quite the spectacle. Whether you are evaluating the fact that a world that is at war can come together to celebrate sports, or whether you want to look at the values of different countries, as it plays out in the specialties they have, the way the athletes are treated in their country, and the athletes themselves. Most of all, however, I find myself continually thinking about the work ethic these athletes must have.

When I was in high school, we had soccer practice at Winter Park High School (yeah, I went to a school with no athletic facilities). One day, we were running sprints and their track coach was there with a few of his stars along with some guy wearing a USA jacket. After running for time, the guy in the USA jacket asked if I wanted to move to Colorado to train for the upcoming Olympics in almost four year. The selfish high school student I was didn’t even let him finish the sentence, as I wanted to stay with my friends.

As I look back on that and hear the stories on TV of these athletes, I realize that they spend the better part of their lives dedicated to their craft. As I think of my own response of not wanting to even attempt to be dedicated to that task, I am amazed at the dedication they show. A couple of verses that come careening to the front of my mind are Colossians 3:23-24. You see, there came a point in my life, where I realized that my work ethic needs to be significant, not so that I would achieve any kind of adoration of fans, but because my work represents the Lord.

As a child, I never realized how the things I did reflected on my parents. Even still, my mother gets mail about how my life reflects on my dad and her (I hope that the positive input outweighs the negative). Now that I have children of my own, I am readily aware of how their behavior reflects upon me and how I want them to do well. The same is true of our heavenly Father. Our work reflects on him. We should be the hardest workers at our job (or our commitments or our school or anything we do) so that we can reflect well on Him.

Our work is also for God. I may love my boss, hate my boss, or not even have a boss. Nevertheless, ultimately my work is not for that boss I like or dislike, but rather I am working for the Lord. He is the one to whom I ultimately answer. If I want to complain that my boss could be better (I am almost certainly correct in that assertion), I need to remember that Christ is the one for whom I am working.

With all this talk about work, I am reminded that most of the people that are always talking to me about work ethic are work-aholics. People who have an unhealthy view of work. These are the Olympians that when interviewed know nothing about anything else, except their event(s) of choice . I’ve always used Psalm 127 as my encouragement. It is, in fact, vain to rise up early and to stay up late just to make money. The reality is that, while we should work hard, we should also give our work priority.

Many people say, “you are what you do,” as if our jobs define us. Alex Cross, on the other hand, made the observation that we do what we are. Our jobs are merely an extension of the person that we have become. When you start to let your job define you, you lose your balance as a person, and you lose the influence that you have where you live, work, and play. Therefore, being too committed to work is also a problem.

So, while our commitment to actually working is essential, we also need to place our work in the proper perspective. So, while I walk this spirtual line between being too focused on work to neglect our other God-given responsibilities and not being committed enough to reflect well on our Savior, I am continuing to pray that God will keep me in step, so I don’t veer off one way or the other, kind of like those Olympian track stars trying to stay in the proper lane. And that is a fun tip-toe to watch, but it is much more difficult to manage!

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