Steve Macchia Blog

Work Matters: Hiatus

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We were not created to work 24/7. Instead, our Creator’s design is more like 8-10/6. Or, to translate that into 8-10 hours per day for 6 days, with one of those days (in our modern, post-agricultural generation) for household related chores. The rest of the hours in a day are for rest (we need to sleep), replenishment (we need to eat and perform basic self-care), and relationships (we need to be present to family and friends and others we come alongside and/or serve).

 

In our now-more-urban, fast-paced, heightened-stress world, there is an unstated belief system that keeps alive every possible hour in a given week for yet another activity or work-related responsibility. We have come to believe that every waking hour of every new day needs to be productive and active. But, with that mindset comes an accompanying addiction to work and feeding the incessant need to be needed deep within. We end up exegeting daily the verbs to do, to want, and to have, and neglect the verb to be.

 

Where in your week is there a real hiatus from work, so you can rest, replenish, recreate, and renew? God our Creator filled the first six days of creation with incredible creativity. But he rested on the seventh day and called it holy. Sabbath rest enhances our work as we take time to cease from and enjoy the work of our hands; to rest body, mind and heart; to reclaim our identity as children of God; to celebrate our life in God with the people of God.

 

Relationships have been my primary focus this past week as we witnessed (and I officiated) the marriage of our son to his beloved bride. As a result, a life-giving hiatus from my work occurred and things like a weekly blog weren’t written on time! But, the hiatus from work was filled with refreshment and renewal, the created order came alive in my spirit, and all was very well in my world. I praise God for being fearfully and wonderfully made: created by him to work, but also to rest, to replenish, and to renew. How about you, dear friend?



Work Matters: Integrity

The Birch Trees.Emery House

For the first time in about three decades I can actually say we now have access to excellent service professionals that are truly dependable. It’s so nice to know that on the other end of the phone are a plumber, electrician, builder, auto mechanic, painter, and/or lawn care specialist who all have one important characteristic in common: integrity. What a comfort and peace of mind to know that there are professional vendors out there who keep their word, follow through with excellence, and stand by their work to their customer’s complete satisfaction.

It hasn’t always been the case for us. We’ve had our share of being ripped off by those who said one thing and did another. Can you relate?

Integrity is the quality of being honest, with strong moral principles; having moral uprightness. It also means being a person who is whole and undivided…in other words, a person who’s life is integrated in a healthy, holistic way. A person of integrity is a person who lives consistent with the words and emotions they express. And, when one’s character is matched with one’s competency, a person of integrity ensures that words spoken are lived out in attitudes and actions consistent with one’s message.

A great football player who is a murderer off season struggles with integrity. An elementary school teacher who has child pornography on his computer struggles with integrity. A church leader who is engaged in illegal or immoral practices at work struggles with integrity. A Christian businessman who speaks on various workplace topics and is having an extra-marital affair struggles with integrity. You might be wrestling with integrity if your life as a believer isn’t evidenced in your daily relationships and responsibilities.

Wisdom is knowing the right path to take…and intergrity is taking it. And, as C.S. Lewis once said, “Integrity is doing the right thing…even when no one is watching.”

Where does integrity come from? It’s evidence of a life of whole-hearted devotion to God. There’s nothing half-hearted about integrity; you either have it or lack it. Nehemiah was known as a man of integrity, as was Job, David, and Isaiah. Each faced their share of hardship and suffering; and all of them were known by others with whom they interacted as men of integrity. Isn’t that what you want said of your work, relationships, and daily life?

Consider the following texts as spiritual guides to a life of integrity. Meditate on these Scriptures as you consider areas of your life that lack the integrity you desire. “May integrity and uprightness protect me, because my hope is in you.” (Psalm 25:21) “The man of integrity walks securely, but he who takes crooked paths will be found out.” (Proverbs 10:9) “In your teaching show integrity, seriousness and soundness of speech that cannot be condemned.” (Titus 2:7)

Lord, I appeal to you in behalf of my brothers and sisters who today are in their respective workplaces seeking to live godly lives filled with integrity. May the words they speak out and the lives they live out be consistent with their heart for God and their service to others. May the glory of the Lord be evidenced today through the work of their hands and the prayers of their hearts. All for your Kingdom invitation to integrity and for your namesake, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Amen.



Work Matters: 10 Transferable Concepts from JH to All of Ministry

My first ministry position was serving as Director of Junior High Ministries at Grace Chapel in Lexington, MA. I ended up staying on the pastoral staff for over 11 years, in three additional leadership positions. But, the first few years were incredibly formative for my soul, my character, and my competencies as a pastor. There are several principles that were forged on the anvil of junior high school ministry. I call them transferable concepts because I’ve seen them replicated in every other ministry setting since that amazing season of life and service.

Here they are for your consideration:

1. Team – A team based ministry is superior to all other options.

2. Lead – Each team needs a competent leader who appropriately leads.

3. Relationships are #1 – People over programs…always.

4. Mimicry – Followers mimic…watch what you say and do.

5. 1 step ahead – Anticipate, plan, and always be one step ahead.

6. Management of stuff – Lots of things to care for; manage well.

7. Retreats – Time away from the routines deepens everything and everyone.

8. Context – You are not an island or a silo; you need and belong to the larger Body of Christ.

9. Church – Teach by words and example that God’s Church matters; positively influence health at all times.

10. Pray – Be in the Word daily, walk with God prayerfully, examen your life reflectively.

Spiritual formation includes every aspect of a believer’s life and daily ministry endeavors. My prayer for the teams I lead and the leaders I serve is that a whole-life perspective will guide, direct, and sustain…from the inside (our heart and soul) out (our service to others). May it be so for you today!



Work Matters: Lessons from Ben

Ben Jodice was my first Christian boss in a non-ministry setting. He was a professional painting contractor and hired eager college and seminary students from his local church during the busy summer months. I was both new to the church and the vocation of painting, but because I was recommended to him by someone in the church he took me on. I learned a lot from Ben, much of which has stayed with me to this day, now more than three decades later.

As I was doing some painting in our home recently, I reflected on the lessons Ben taught me, all of which have transference to my daily work today.

1. Tools – having the right tools for the job at hand are essential to completing the work in a timely, professional manner. The brushes, rollers, extension poles, drop clothes, scaffolding and ladders all needed to be top quality and in excellent condition for the work of each team member.
2. Products – never believing it was good to scrimp on using the best on the market, we routinely stopped by the local paint shop to pick up top quality products to aid us in preparing, painting and clean up.
3. Preparation – in order to have the properly finished look for that which was to be painted, each painter needed to know how to prepare the surface and surroundings before opening and distributing any paint.
4. Safety – even if it took extra time, it was always essential to remember to work safely and carefully. Often we were working from high places, on wobbly ladders, and it was important to have spotters in place to ensure proper balance and protection. Any possible accidents needed to be avoided at all cost.
5. Breaks – taking short breaks mid-morning and afternoon, as well as an extended time for lunch mid-day were non-negotiables for our crew. Ben believed it was important to recalibrate throughout the day and taking breaks from the labor were important for each worker.
6. Limits – never taking on more than we could reasonably handle in a day, our gracious boss would set reasonable goals for the crew to accomplish. Knowing one’s limits helps to manage expectations for the leader and the team.
7. Enjoyment – making sure everyone was enjoying the challenge of the task at hand was a continual priority for Ben. He had a gentle and dry sense of humor and would come alongside each of his staff to make sure they were doing well throughout the workday. If not, he would inquire and respond in a gracious manner.
8. Clean up – we never left a site in a mess, even if we were returning to the same place the following day. The discipline of cleaning up after yourself was routine and disciplined so that the respect for property could be well maintained.
9. Integrity – standing above us at all times was the banner of service, the character of the person, the integrity of the team, and the general sense that who we are matters as much as the quality of our workmanship. Never compromising on honesty, reliability, and trustworthiness, Ben’s business was never dented by himself or members of his work force for lack of integrity.

Ben never felt the need to be overtly vocal about his faith. His work was done to the glory of God and the goodness of others. I’m grateful for the summers I had the privilege of working for Ben Jodice. Not only am I a better painter today, but hopefully have been even more effective in transferring these nine fundamentals into my current workplace wherever appropriate. I’m grateful for the foundation Ben helped to forge in my heart, mind, and work.

These nine simple lessons have been carried into my daily routines as a minister of the Gospel, a leader of a ministry team, and on the homefront in the work I do for my family. As I was journaling about my time on Ben’s team I reflected on these simple verses, “Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters, since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward. It is the Lord Christ you are serving,” Colossians 3:23,24.