Lack of good jobs in Memphis is more than an economic problem, says Dr. Chris Scruggs of Advent Presbyterian Church. “It’s also a spiritual problem. If we do not create an environment in which people can find good jobs, we deprive our children of the opportunity to use their unique God-given talents, gifts and abilities. We impoverish ourselves and our society.”
Do you agree? What can the faith community do about this? What is your congregation doing specifically – mentoring, job training, etc. – to help?
Several years ago, I read in the paper about a Boston orthopedic surgeon who was six hours into spinal surgery when he abruptly told colleagues in the operating room at Mount Auburn Hospital that he had to “step out.” With his patient under anesthesia, his back cut open, what did the doctor do but grab a ride from a medical device salesperson to his bank in nearby Harvard Square to deposit his pay- check. He returned to complete the surgery about 35 minutes later.
When I told my sister this story, it reminded her of something she went through with her dentist. Fitting her with a crown for her root canal, with one hand on her right cheek and the other holding a cell phone, he negotiated the purchase of a Toyota Pathfinder.
I tell these two stories to say the lack of proper motivation for a good job qualifies as a spiritual issue as well as the lack of a good job. If we’re fortunate to have a good job, is our work driven by strict self-regard or by a sense of service to humanity? Driven by the former, work is denied meaning. But driven by the latter, work takes on the dignity of a calling to something greater than ourselves.
As for what my congregation is doing to make a difference, we, partnering with St. Patrick Presbyterian church, are involved with a local non-profit called Hope for Collierville, which is reaching out to those in our community living below the poverty line. Concerned that people find good jobs, Hope for Collierville recently offered a 10-week course of study through the National Jobs for Life Curriculum. Subject matter included ethics and character development with attention given to skills for preparing a resume, being interviewed for a job, and networking. Six people fulfilled course requirements and graduated.