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Monday, July 9, 2018

Just a Carpenter

Just a Carpenter
by Bryan J. Neva, Sr.
Jesus returned with his disciples to Nazareth, his hometown. The next Sabbath he went to the town synagogue to teach, and the people were astonished at his wisdom and his miracles because he was just a local man like themselves.
“He’s no better than we are,” they said. “He’s just a carpenter, Mary’s boy, and a brother of James and Joseph, Judas, and Simon. And his sisters live right here among us.” And they were offended!
Then Jesus told them, A prophet is honored everywhere except in his hometown and among his relatives and by his own family. And because of their unbelief, he couldn’t do any mighty miracles among them except to place his hands on a few sick people and heal them. And he was amazed at their unbelief.
- Mark 6:1-6

Most all of us have experienced rejection, discrimination, and marginalization at some time in our lives (maybe even by our own families). Maybe we're society's outcasts, minorities, poor, unrefined, uneducated, unattractive, or unimportant. 

Being rejected means we're unacceptable:  unacceptable to a potential school, employer, client, friend, or love interest. It feels terrible being rejected. Imagine how a salesperson feels being told, "No!" a hundred times before they're ever told, "Yes!"? Imagine how an awkward, unattractive boy at a Junior High School dance must feel after every girl refuses to dance with him, or how that shy, homely girl feels when no one asks her to dance?

At work, people tend to tie their self-worth with being well respected and liked by their superiors and colleagues. They tie it to getting a promotion and moving up the corporate ladder. But when these don't happen, it can be quite discouraging even leading to poor job performance.  

An old carpenter had been helping to build houses his entire life. But he was tired and his body ached every day. Working in construction can be quite demoralizing when you're treated as a second-class citizen, your boss and colleagues don't respect you, and you're living from paycheck to paycheck. Sometimes you're even cheated out of your pay by dishonest contractors and customers. And there's usually no benefits or retirement. 

Finally, the old carpenter decided to hang up his tools and retire. It would be tough making ends meet only on his social security, but he and his wife would somehow get by. The contractor he had been working for was disappointed he was retiring because he actually believed he was one of the best carpenters he ever had. They were working on the last house in a new subdivision the contractor was building, and he begged him to stay on until they finished the last house. The old carpenter reluctantly agreed as it would only be a couple of more months.

Unfortunately, the old carpenter was so burned out and discouraged that his workmanship really suffered. When the house was completed, the contractor did a final walk-through of the house with the old carpenter. And then he did something completely unexpected: he handed the old carpenter the keys to the house and said, "This is your house now, it's my retirement gift to you."

The old carpenter was surprised and thankful, but secretly, he was ashamed because he knew deep-down that his work was shoddy! It was a blessing and a curse. If he had known he was building his own house, he would have put forth his best efforts in building the house.

So it is with us. We build our lives, one day at a time, but we feel rejected by others and our work becomes mediocre. We tell ourselves, "Why should I kill myself for these ingrates!" And then something happens and we are shocked to learn we have to live in the house we've built. If we could do it over, we’d do it much differently. But we cannot go back.

Our attitudes and choices we make today build the “house” we may live in tomorrow. So we shouldn't let rejection stop us from continuing to do good work.

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