Handling really big jobs

A Christian Science perspective.

Many challenges that confront us collectively today may seem insurmountable, whether we’re facing a “fiscal cliff” or the longstanding conflict in Syria or elsewhere. Even our individual and family challenges may appear to defy solution – finding a job, dealing with an aggressive illness or the passing of a close family member.

These remind me of an account recorded in the Bible of when many people were at a loss as to how to handle a situation. One man came forward, took charge, and handled it confidently and easily. The scope of this situation was great, and the impact of the outcome was far reaching. The story is told in the first book of Samuel. When the army of Israel was facing the Philistine army, Goliath, a Philistine, bellowed out a challenge to fight one soldier from the Israelite army – and the winner would determine the outcome of the battle. King Saul of Israel and everyone in his army were at a loss because Goliath was more than nine feet tall and a well-equipped, experienced, and boastful warrior.

When David arrived on the scene and saw what was happening, he stepped up to the task. David faced the giant with a sling and five smooth stones. Goliath mocked David and the army of Israel, but to the great surprise of everyone in both armies, Goliath was felled by a single stone.

Before standing up to Goliath, David had been tending his family’s flock of sheep; and as far as we know, he humbly accepted that role and diligently fulfilled it. He trusted God to guide him, and he learned all he could. This approach had proved effective when he needed to protect the sheep from a lion and a bear. When he arrived at the battlefield, he was confident that he knew what to do, and without hesitation he courageously offered to fight Goliath. David trusted his God and his own experience as a shepherd, and they proved the deciding difference.

Mary Baker Eddy, who discovered Christian Science, emphasized the importance of shepherding and the accompanying expectation in this message to members of her church: “You come from feeding your flocks, big with promise; and you come with the sling of Israel’s chosen one to meet the Goliaths” (“The First Church of Christ, Scientist, and Miscellany,” p. 125).

We can actively fulfill a shepherding role by making sure that our “flocks” are safe and well tended in our job as parent, employee, employer, citizen, or leader. Our work and the impact may appear modest, the lessons we learn may be small or large and many, but by following the gentle, guiding, divine shepherding voice of God, we will learn the lessons we need and learn them well to be ready to face even bigger challenges that may come along, even if they look insurmountable. We will see and fulfill our unique role in making a difference, blessing many, and perhaps even astounding them.

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Dear Reader,

About a year ago, I happened upon this statement about the Monitor in the Harvard Business Review – under the charming heading of “do things that don’t interest you”:

“Many things that end up” being meaningful, writes social scientist Joseph Grenny, “have come from conference workshops, articles, or online videos that began as a chore and ended with an insight. My work in Kenya, for example, was heavily influenced by a Christian Science Monitor article I had forced myself to read 10 years earlier. Sometimes, we call things ‘boring’ simply because they lie outside the box we are currently in.”

If you were to come up with a punchline to a joke about the Monitor, that would probably be it. We’re seen as being global, fair, insightful, and perhaps a bit too earnest. We’re the bran muffin of journalism.

But you know what? We change lives. And I’m going to argue that we change lives precisely because we force open that too-small box that most human beings think they live in.

The Monitor is a peculiar little publication that’s hard for the world to figure out. We’re run by a church, but we’re not only for church members and we’re not about converting people. We’re known as being fair even as the world becomes as polarized as at any time since the newspaper’s founding in 1908.

We have a mission beyond circulation, we want to bridge divides. We’re about kicking down the door of thought everywhere and saying, “You are bigger and more capable than you realize. And we can prove it.”

If you’re looking for bran muffin journalism, you can subscribe to the Monitor for $15. You’ll get the Monitor Weekly magazine, the Monitor Daily email, and unlimited access to CSMonitor.com.