The Christian Broadcasting Network

Finance

Calculators: Credit Card Pay Off | College Savings


Save
Meet Tom Petersen

Tom Petersen works at a company in the Midwest, where he processes e-mail, attends meetings and recalibrates management expectations. His book of essays on work and faith is currently lurking outside of publishers’ back doors, trying to meet a naïve editor. Contact him at www.HisWorkInProgress.com.

 
Related Links

More articles by Tom Petersen

Finance

 
His work in progress

Separating the Wheat Stuff from the Chaff Stuff

By Tom Petersen
www.HisWorkInProgress.com

CBNMoney.com I am convinced I could never sell my possessions and devote my life to serving others. I need my stuff. I know that Jesus and the disciples engaged in ministry without the benefit of laptop, cell phone, and pager, but I’m not willing to risk working without them.

Clutching stuff at work
I love my stuff. In many ways, my desk, my telephone, even my office chair are marks of my identity at work. And when something happens to them, I am bereft. When I lost my calendar recently, I wandered the halls aimlessly for a week. I was downright mad when my favorite mechanical pencil broke. I grew so attached to my first generation “brick” of a cell phone that a colleague finally had to pry it out of my hands and replace it with one that didn’t have a rotary dial. (Knowing what it meant to me, however, my colleague spray painted my old phone gold and glued it to a wooden plaque. She said she wanted to ensure it had the proper respect, even in its afterlife. I’m starting to wonder if she meant it as a joke, but my doubts aren’t strong enough to force me to move it off my fireplace mantle.)

Misplaced Bible worship
A friend once asked (rather rudely, I thought) if I worshipped my Bible. I had never thought about it, but when she asked if I would be willing to give my Bible to someone who needed one, I felt the color drain from my face. I realized I had grown attached to my Bible. I have sermon notes scrawled in the margins and pages dog-eared to mark favorite passages. But my reverence for my Bible was one more example of how I had misplaced my worship. I thought I was being devout, when all I was doing was worshipping another idol I’d created. (I am now also beginning to wonder about my special prayer La-Z-Boy rocker-recliner.)

Defining what we really need
Reading scripture also causes me to wonder if I have placed too much value on my stuff. Reading Jesus’ admonition in Matthew 19 to the rich young man to sell all his possessions gives me pause. I look around my life with a twinge of anxiety. After all, I have a lot of stuff. Using the biblical analogy of wheat and chaff, I have to wonder if the stuff in my life is really wheat. Or is it just chaff that needs to be winnowed? 

I try to justify my stuff, saying a little chaff never hurt anyone. But another scriptural horticultural reference – Jesus’ story of the sower in Matthew 13 – offers a different perspective. As He describes the thorns coming up and choking out the good seeds of the word, I wince. Are my things choking out what’s truly important?

In case I’m still a bit fuzzy on the right response, Jesus has one more lesson from His gardening handbook. In John, he talks about the importance of pruning. “Every branch in me that does not bear fruit, He takes away, and every branch that bears fruit, He prunes it so that it may bear more fruit.” (John 15:2, NASB)

Although Jesus is probably talking about Christians, I also read that passage as a call to prune in my own life. I need to get rid of those things that don’t help me in my relationship to Jesus or my witness to others. And I need to prune those things that I really do need – perhaps by scaling them back or using them to help others – so that they can be strengthened.

Doing that has been a tough exercise, but it’s been rewarding, too. I decided that I needed to remove everything in my life that wasn’t either gold-painted or glued to something. Consequently, I don’t use my Bible much anymore, since I mounted it to a wooden plaque. But it is comforting knowing my notes are still in there, if I ever really need them.

Does your stuff get in the way of your faith walk? How have you pruned your stuff?

Tom Petersen works at a company in the Midwest, where he processes e-mail, attends meetings and recalibrates management expectations. His book of essays on work and faith is currently lurking outside of publishers’ back doors, trying to meet a naïve editor. Contact him at www.HisWorkInProgress.com.

 

  • Translate
  • Print Page


CBN IS HERE FOR YOU!
Are you seeking answers in life? Are you hurting?
Are you facing a difficult situation?

A caring friend will be there to pray with you in your time of need.

Become a CBN Partner and receive:
Living Under God's Blessing

CBN Partners are making a difference sharing the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Find out how...

Bring It On: Balance

What makes a DB(k) different from a 401(k) or regular pension plan? How can I assist my husband to get balance into his life?

Email iconSign up for E-mail Updates Full List

 E-mail: 
Do You Know Jesus
Grow In Your Faith

Need Prayer?

Call 1-800-823-6053
Email your prayer request