Minister's Thoughts

WHAT ARE WE WORKING FOR?

In recent times there has been a good deal of publicity concerning the difficulties faced by people employed on zero-hours contracts. It has also been reported that statistics showing the number of people in work may be skewed because they include a significant number of people who are employed part-time.

Of course there will undoubtedly be people for whom zero-hours contracts and part-time working best suits their lifestyles and their particular priorities at any given time. For others it may be a case of this is the only employment they can find, and they have to look for more than one job to bring in a reasonable living wage.

Some Management Consultants and others in similar disciplines are now suggesting a complete rethink about part-time and whole-time working. What they are advocating is that rather than being paid for the number of hours we work, an employee should be paid relative to the value of the work they do. This would require an employer to calculate the value of every job according to the contribution it makes to the success of the organisation. On this basis an employee’s rate of pay would reflect the value of the contribution the work makes to the whole operation irrespective of whether they are working part-time or whole-time.

In theory at least this could mean someone working part-time in an organisation could be earning the same as someone working whole-time. Sounds pretty revolutionary doesn’t it? This would require a whole new evaluation of what work is for and how we value it. Does it sound unfair? Does it sound plain daft? Well, it depends on what we think work is for. If we consider that work exists so that we can adequately feed and clothe our families and enjoy warmth and good housing then perhaps there is more sense in it than first meets the eye. Does the Bible have anything to say about it?

I think it does. In Matthew’s Gospel in Chapter 20 and verse 1 – 16 Jesus told the parable of the Workers in the Vineyard. In this parable the owner of the vineyard goes out early in the morning to hire men to work in his vineyard. He agreed to pay them a denarius (a day’s wage, the same as that paid to a Roman soldier) and sent them to work. The vineyard owner went out to the market place again at Nine in the morning, again at Noon, again at Three in the afternoon and then again at 5:00 p.m.

At the end of the day the workers who started early in the morning expected to receive more pay than those who started later in the day – the part-timers. But the vineyard owner said I have paid you what we agreed. “Why should I not be generous with my money,” he asked. The point is that those who were taken on at the start of the day knew early on that there would be money to feed their families, while those who were hired late in the day did not know if they would have any money for food and clothing and warmth. The vineyard owner in the Parable wanted to make sure that all their families were provided for. Jesus placed such a high value on this that He likened it to the Kingdom of Heaven.

What is more important after all? Is it that everyone should have food and clothing and warmth, or is it that you should have more money than me, or that I should have more money than you? Would we rather see everyone adequately provided for irrespective of whether they work part-time or whole-time, or not? Do we live to work, or work to live?

What do you think?

Rev. Bob Anderson
Minister

  • Reading 1 – Acts 2:1-21
    Acts 2:14-21 Peter Addresses the Crowd 14 Then Peter stood up with the Eleven, raised his voice and addressed the crowd: “Fellow Jews and all of you who live in Jerusalem, let me explain this to you; listen carefully to what I say. 15 These people are not drunk, as you suppose. It’s only nine in the morning! 16 No, this is what was spoken by the prophet Joel: 17 “‘In the last days, God says, I will pour out my Spirit on all people. Your sons and daughters will prophesy, your young men will see visions, your old men will dream dreams. 18 Even on my servants, both men and women, I will pour out my Spirit in those days, and they will prophesy. 19 I will show wonders in the heavens above and signs on the earth below, blood and fire and billows of smoke. 20 The sun will be turned to darkness and the moon to blood before the coming of the great and glorious day of the Lord. 21 And everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved."                                
            

     

         
  • Reading 2 – John 16:4-15

    Reading Two For the Week:

    4 I have told you this, so that when their time comes you will remember that I warned you about them. I did not tell you this from the beginning because I was with you, 5 but now I am going to him who sent me. None of you asks me, ‘Where are you going?’ 6 Rather, you are filled with grief because I have said these things. 7 But very truly I tell you, it is for your good that I am going away. Unless I go away, the Advocate will not come to you; but if I go, I will send him to you. 8 When he comes, he will prove the world to be in the wrong about sin and righteousness and judgment: 9 about sin, because people do not believe in me; 10 about righteousness, because I am going to the Father, where you can see me no longer; 11 and about judgment, because the prince of this world now stands condemned. 12 “I have much more to say to you, more than you can now bear. 13 But when he, the Spirit of truth, comes, he will guide you into all the truth. He will not speak on his own; he will speak only what he hears, and he will tell you what is yet to come. 14 He will glorify me because it is from me that he will receive what he will make known to you. 15 All that belongs to the Father is mine. That is why I said the Spirit will receive from me what he will make known to you.”