A boisterous personality and infectious laugh. His presence itself was big and his booming voice even bigger. This was a man that captured your attention, and once you studied him for a moment, you were completely captivated. He engaged all in his path in lively banter. He winked and joked with the office staff until they were jolted out of their administrative doldrums by his charm and wit.
He caught my attention in the waiting room of an orthopedic clinic – having been saddled with regular visits there following a tumble down a ski slope. This was not a place most people wanted to be, but this particular patient’s demeanor changed the atmosphere of the entire office. Talk about letting your light shine? This was a megawatt man. Now, here’s the powerful punch line: he was an amputee in his motorized scooter – lovely, lanky adult daughter in tow, probably more to keep him in line than actually help him.
He was called back to an exam room right before me, and we were next door to one another in the bustling office. X-ray technicians, nurses and doctor’s assistants scurried back and forth and I could hear this lively patient engage everyone with his joking and laughter. This continued until he rolled out a bit later, his daughter rolling her eyes and chuckling behind him.
I was left temporarily slack-jawed by this man’s personality and office-changing presence. It made me think about what happens when I walk in an office, enter a meeting, or patronize a business. Does my presence change the atmosphere for the better? I have little excuse for not letting my light shine. (I have two good legs anyway – or will after a bit more physical therapy). If anyone had an excuse to be dour or at least pensive and reserved, it was this elderly gentleman with the prosthetic leg.
What about you? What atmosphere do you create? Even if you are the shy and retiring type, not prone to engage even a fence post in conversation. Can all of us, working with our God-given personalities, through the help of the Holy Spirit at least, change the atmosphere in the our marketplace, simply with the weight of our presence? We can, and we’re exhorted to as well.
“…let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven.” (Matt. 5:16 NIV)
This baritone-voiced man, with his contagious laugh, fancy scooter, metal leg and captivating grin, captivated my heart and changed my day. He reminded me of the Old Testament story of Ehud. What a name, huh? In addition to having a pretty weird name, at least by today’s standards, in the times of the ancient Israelites, Ehud was what we’d call disabled, not too unlike the amputee on the scooter. Except in Ehud’s case, he was left handed. I kid you not. Back then, if you were left handed, you were not worth the dust on the bottom of your sandals. Believe it or not, left handed people were sometimes even killed, so it’s amazing that Ehud was even around to make it into this eternal story.
There was a greater purpose and a plan though, and this guy with the left-handed disability changed not just the atmosphere of Israel’s politics, he completely changed the course of the nation.
At the time, the Israelites were living as captives of the Moabite king Eglon. Eglon and Ehud. What a story. In Judges 3 we pick up this intriguing tale and see the impact that this otherwise disabled man had on his little part of the world. The Israelites were in their cycle of misbehaving, disobeying and then suffering the consequences. They’d been attacked by King Eglon, helped by the Ammonites and Amalekites, and had suffered under his rule for eighteen years.
Once again though, they begged God for mercy and he gave it. After hearing their cries for deliverance, the book of Judges says God sent a deliverer. Enter Ehud. He was sent with a “tribute” to King Eglon. Going through security, he was patted down like any other visitor, and his side was checked for weapons. Now, assuming he was like every one else, right handed, the security team patted his garments on the left side. But picture this, a left-handed warrior keeps his sword on his right side to grab it and wield it in battle, or self-defense, or in this case, to assassinate an enemy king.
Could any one else at the time have had this impact and affected the political atmosphere of Israel in such a way? Could any other man have waltzed into the king’s quarters with an eighteen inch, double-edged sword hidden under his cloak where no one could find it, solely for the purpose of redeeming his countrymen and changing the world in which they lived?
I don’t think so.
So what about us? What’s our disability? We may not be amputees or like Ehud, considered less valuable in our society because of a physical condition, but we still create disabilities for ourselves at times. We adopt attitudes and worldviews that keep us from recognizing that we can change the atmosphere of our offices. We use excuses, guilt trips and pity parties to convince ourselves that we are incapable of changing the course of our day, much less the environment in which we work or the marketplace we patronize.
We earth-bound mortals forget the immense power we can wield through a relationship with the living, loving God who wants to do immeasurably more within us than we can ask or imagine (Eph. 3:10, NIV). Herein lies our challenge.
“This little light of mine! I’m gonna let it shine.” It was a cute Sunday School song sung by many of us and our children too. Juice-stained pointer fingers waving in the air, we sang with abandon of our intent to let our light shine for all to see Jesus. But how well do we do that now as busy, self-absorbed adults with deadlines and work-family pressures and budgets and difficult employees? How do we do that shining thing outside the comforting confines of our animal cracker and Bible School days?
- When the budget meeting didn’t go as planned and the shortfall was bigger than the windfall?
- When a formerly trusted co-worker turns on us in a nasty political maneuver?
- When the products arrived late, seriously jeopardizing our relationship with a top client?
- When the customer returns begin to outweigh the customer orders and the whole business model is on the verge of collapse?
- When the convenience store clerk having a bad day chooses to take it out on us?
Our imaginary but realistic list of mayhem in the marketplace could go on and on. The negative impact of those situations on the atmosphere surrounding us is understandable, even expected in a fallen and broken world. But we are called to live above the fray. We are given the power to soar beyond our circumstances and disabilities, self-imposed or otherwise, to have impact and change the course of our world.
As we go about our daily business today, let us remember the phrase Regi Campbell coined in the title of his book: it is About My Father’s Business. Through his power, we can, like my boisterous amputee friend, change the atmosphere of our surroundings and even like Ehud, alter the course of history in our corner of the workday universe.
Written by Amy C. Baker. Amy is a speaker and author of Succeed at Work Without Sidetracking Your Faith and Slow Dancing at Death’s Door. Used with permission. All rights reserved. Content distributed by WorkLife.org > used for non-profit teaching purposes only.