Since it’s the holidays, I have and will be spending time in airports. I don’t know about you, but I’ve noticed that an awful lot of the people working in airport restaurants and kiosks are immigrants who, for the most part, do their jobs diligently. I started to ask myself why these jobs should be staffed primarily by immigrants, and why they are doing such good work in such menial jobs?
This got me thinking and asking questions. The first standard answer is that the immigrants do the work, because those of us born in N.America think that working at McDonald’s or Tim Horton’s is beneath our dignity. The immigrants are just happy to have a job at all, and will take pride in whatever job they happen to find themselves in. This pride is precisely what we would not have were we “reduced” to working a job. We’d be surly, embarrassed, and looking for any opportunity to find “better” work.
This got me to thinking about honor. We have, by and large, lost the concept of honor in our culture. There is no set of behaviors and conventions to which one may adhere and therefore be called honorable. In a situation where we can’t know if we are honorable people or not, we have to externalize the concept of honor into things like our work. Lacking an internalized sense of honor that we could take with us into virtually any job that we may find ourselves doing (such as my immigrant examples), we find ourselves locating honor in external sources, particularly in the work that we do. (There’s also the distinct possibility that we attempt to locate honor in our possessions, something connected to my previous post.)
As a Christian, it is furthermore ridiculous to consider work “beneath me.” We follow a God who humbled himself to become a human being; who spent his life as the servant of all and endured the most humiliating death possible in the Roman Empire.
This means that nothing is beneath me, since I should be racing towards the bottom, embracing downward mobility and locating honor in seeking to honor others above myself. The Spirit is always speaking, let us have eyes to see, ears to ear and hearts set to obedience.