Faith in Jesus produces fruit

By Vinal Van Benthem | For The Compass | March 17, 2021

They were a large manufacturing plant but, when the pandemic hit, their business, like so many others, was severely impacted. Profits plummeted. They needed to tighten their belt; so many low-level positions would have to be cut. Even employees who had been with the company for years were in danger of losing their jobs. Their only hope was to apply for more secure mid-level positions, but, for that, they would need to pass a basic math test and, unfortunately, many of them were poorly educated.

Paula had been hired to help the company downsize. Management had assumed that she would work with graphs and charts to eliminate employees. Instead, Paula worked with employees to eliminate graphs and charts. Paula believed that, given the opportunity, employees would do whatever was necessary to keep their jobs, including working to bring their math scores up. So she brought in a math teacher to work with them. And soon the same people who had previously been in danger of losing their jobs were, instead, applying for better ones.

Management had not been happy when Paula introduced her training program. They knew she had a reputation for innovative thinking. In fact, that was one of the reasons they had hired her. But they had assumed that she would introduce innovative ways to maintain company profits and decrease employees. Instead, she was introducing innovative ways to maintain employees while actually increasing company profits.

“Unless a grain of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains just a grain of wheat; but if it dies, it produces much fruit.” Paula took a chance. It would have been safer to do what management wanted her to do, but Paula had to be true to who she was, a woman of compassion and integrity who believed in the dignity of each person with whom she worked. Paula put her job and her security on the line. It could have gone either way. That’s how it is when you follow Jesus. It sounds easy in church, but it’s harder to do when he’s a line worker in a large manufacturing plant.

Van Benthem is a longtime pastoral minister in the Diocese of Green Bay

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