Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Efficiency Lessons

For the past two weeks, I’ve been a part of meetings with members of our Base and Kitchen staff.  Eric (payroll), Raul (national staff liaison) and I (HR) are reviewing each one’s job responsibilities, pay increases, and taking time to hear what is on their minds and hearts. 

Raul begins each meeting with prayer and shares verses from Colossians 3, including verse 23: “Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters.”  

Then, he talks about the value and importance of the jobs they are doing.  “We Dominicans have a saying.  ‘When Adam sinned, work arrived.’  This isn’t true.  The Bible says that when Adam and Eve sinned, work became difficult, but it also says that before that God had given them work to do.  God Himself works.  Work is a blessing from God.”

While I had no idea that this saying existed, I have seen that attitude displayed.  It shows up in the desire to get things done as quickly as possible.  Never mind if it is done well, just finish it. 

Instead of finding new parts to repair a car, shops here often patch up old parts.  Once you drive away, it’s no longer their problem.  Return to get it fixed again and you’ll pay full price again. 

In the Social Work site, crafts sometimes feel like a race.  Sure, it’s sloppy and falling apart, but I got done first!  Work is something to get through so you can start living.

Part of this attitude comes from the history of the DR.  When Trujillo was dictator, he expected everyone to work, and work hard.  He told the people that if they did not work, they did not deserve to live.  Trujillo did not use hyperbole.  His years running the country were years of untold deaths and terror. 
So, people worked.  But, it wasn’t for satisfaction in a job well done.  It wasn’t even about providing for your family’s needs.  It was simply survival.  Creativity wasn’t encouraged, just keep your head down and do what you were told.

When he was killed, people were free.  But, since they had not learned to value work, now that no one was threatening them, they weren’t particularly motivated.  And, 50 years later (he was assassinated in 1961) the ‘legacy’ of Trujillo hangs on.  It is not surprising, but it is sad. 
And, truthfully, it is also frustrating.  Yesterday Carlos and I were in a major governmental building in Santo Domingo, the capital.  The inefficiency, the lack of professionalism (and lack of toilet paper!) grated.  But, Carlos told me it was so much more orderly than it was just 10 years ago.  Change will likely not come quickly, but si Dios quiere (the Lord willing) it will come. 

As an American used to the comfort and efficiency of life in the US, it is easy to sigh and complain about standing in a line to get a number… only to go stand in yet another line, the second of what would be six in all.  Oh, and note to anyone planning to travel in developing nations – always, always carry tissues!!
Yesterday I could feel myself becoming an ‘ugly American’.  As I muttered under my breath, I suddenly remembered the cross hanging around my neck…  Ouch.

How am I demonstrating the love of Jesus to ‘these people’?  Am I taking time to understand the ‘why’ behind their actions? 
Instead of turning up His nose at how ignorant and primitive the Jewish people were, Jesus entered into their lives, their culture.  He lived as they lived, becoming one of them.  In emptying Himself, He was able to share the fullness of God’s love.  As He did, people changed.  They were transformed.  The Kingdom of God broke into the world.

When I meet people where they are, not as superior, but seeking to understand them, I show that love.  I show that I value and respect them as image bearers of our Creator. 
From that place, I may have the opportunity to speak God’s truth.  The truth that Jesus came, died, and rose again, to redeem the world.  That in Him, our lives, including our work, can be transformed, because we are no longer doing things to just get done, but instead, are doing them to the glory of God.

May God continue to work in the DR, and throughout the world.   And may we who claim Him make the most of the opportunities He gives us to share the love of Jesus right where people are, right now.  

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