With Rev. Canon Chinemerem Uche
The differences between working for money and working for honour
As a person in love with bringing succor to the less privileged, the Consultant physician as part of the activities of his NGO organized a medical outreach for some rural communities. He took along with him some student doctors who were supposed to be Christians and interested in offering their skill and expertise in helping the less privileged. As the outreached progressed, villagers trooped out in large numbers for medical screening and treatment. Along the line the student doctors in the outreach decided to down tool. Their reason was that they felt that they were being used by the organizer to make money. The villagers who turned out en mass were disappointed as they waited long hours waiting for the striking student doctors to attend to them. The student doctors were of the opinion that a lot of money had been given to the organizer by those who hired him, and so they wanted to know how much was doled out for the outreach so that they too can negotiate and have their own “cut.” When the organizer came in and was surprised to discover that the Christian medical students had embarked on strike, he took time to explain how he had been personally funding the outreach and the sacrifices he had been making to contribute his own quota to national wellness and development. The students were shocked at his testimony and felt for him.
After graduation from the university in 1997, I went to one of my respected mentors to intimate him on my decision to answer the call into the ordained ministry in the Anglican Church. I went to get encouragement from him and also to show him that “his boy” was focused and had a vision. He innocently advised me thus: “You have chosen a good career. Pastors are also making it. This is one vocation that many people are looking down on, but let me assure you that there is money, material things and job security in the Anglican ministry. You will not pay NEPA bills or pay house rent. You have made a good choice and from my interaction with pastors, they are hardly poor these days.” Later on in life, I thought over what this mentor said and shook my head. All he had to tell me was what I stood to gain materially from answering the call. There were no challenges thrown at me, there were no call for integrity –just an admonition that whetted my appetite for material things. These scenarios above go to a large extent to reveal the average psyche of people in Nigeria who undertake to work for an establishment or do business. It is hard to find people who are venturing into a career to make a name or for glory. This attitude has profoundly affected our collective success as a people. It appears now that everybody wants to make money before they choose to make a name. If one for instance is serving God for money, when the opportunity arises to serve the devil at a better wage, it would be quickly grabbed! Your name is more important than your gain. People who enter a job or a vocation with the sole intent or overpowering passion to make money are willing to shift the goal post to make more money. They will gladly sell the institution in order to become richer. If you doubt this, throw your mind back to how many banks and corporate institutions that have folded or rendered useless. Those who work for money are mostly the trouble makers; they lack an innovative spirit and will be quick to blame their boss or the system for their failures. Those who work for money in an entity that requires promotion based on productivity are the ones most likely to spread hate, unethical and unhealthy competition. To them “money answereth all things.” These people however forget that in the story told by Jesus in the parable of the rich man and Lazarus, that the rich man’s money was absolutely incapable of bringing him to the place of eternal rest after life on earth. These people also forget that there are certain places in our hearts and consciences that money and fame cannot penetrate to heal the inherent maladies.
One of the needs of man that affects his behavior is the need for financial security. Man has a strong belief that his survival and security to a very large extent is tied to finance and the abundance of it. In as much as financial security is important, the Bible also says, “But the Lord watches over those who fear him, those who rely on his unfailing love. He rescues them from death and keeps them alive in times of famine.” (Ps 33:18-19).
A good reputation is more valuable than costly perfume, says Ecclesiastes 7:1. Most people who excelled and made money in life were not actually looking for money, but they were people who followed their passion to do what they loved. They were people who were bent on making a name not for the sake of vain glory but to better the lot of humanity. While Jacob was fleeing from his brother after taking the so called blessing deceitfully from Esau, he met the Lord at Bethel during his night rest. The Bible said in his dream he saw a stairway that reached from the earth up to heaven. And he saw the angels of God going up and down the stairway. At the top of the stairway stood the Lord, and he said, “I am the Lord, the God of your grandfather Abraham, and the God of your father, Isaac. The ground you are lying on belongs to you. I am giving it to you and your descendants. Your descendants will be as numerous as the dust of the earth! They will spread out in all directions—to the west and the east, to the north and the south. And all the families of the earth will be blessed through you and your descendants. What’s more, I am with you, and I will protect you wherever you go. One day I will bring you back to this land. I will not leave you until I have finished giving you everything I have promised you.” (Gen 28:12-15). Jacob’s immediate reaction to obeying and serving God after this great proclamation of favour by the Lord God Almighty was conditional and based on material things.
Listen to him: Then Jacob made this vow: “IF GOD WILL INDEED BE WITH ME AND PROTECT ME ON THIS JOURNEY, AND IF HE WILL PROVIDE ME WITH FOOD AND CLOTHING, AND IF I RETURN SAFELY TO MY FATHER’S HOME, THEN THE LORD WILL CERTAINLY BE MY GOD. And this memorial pillar I have set up will become a place for worshiping God, and I will present to God a tenth of everything he gives me.” (Gen 28:20-22).
Jacob based his return to serve God on acquisition of worldly wealth. A simple famine however made light of all he labored for.