Trust Me, I'm a Professional

I remember the day I brought my first daughter home from the hospital.  During my stay, nurses watched over my every move.  They charted diaper changes and nursing sessions, monitored visitors, regularly checked on our vitals, examined my husband’s worthiness, and offered all kinds of mothering advice.  Upon checkout, they even made me leave in a wheelchair and inspected our car seat.   Then, as my husband pulled up, they practically dumped me out of the wheelchair and waved goodbye.  Matt looked at me in panic.  He loved all the hovering and nurturing.  It did feel kind of strange to be driving away with this new baby to take care of all by ourselves.  At first, they acted like I needed to be taught to do the most natural of things, and then they waved me off with total autonomy.  Solanna turned 12 yesterday, and I’m still in shock that I’m allowed to be her mother. Perhaps this is a sequel to my article, Housewives and Paychecks, as I’ve been thinking about the term professional.  When Matt and I were driving away with our newborn baby, he was horrified that we haven’t been properly educated for this weighty undertaking.  To try and calm his nerves, I followed the mantra that just resurfaced on one of my workout videos: fake it till you make it!  But seriously, all day long the humbling task of motherhood serves as a constant reminder of my unprofessionalism.  But what does that word even mean anymore? A professional used to refer to someone who is paid for a specific task in which they are specially trained or educated.  Now, the term seems to imply a certain virtue in work.  We still use the first definition, for example, when we distinguish a professional athlete from an amateur.  And yet, we complain that professional athletes don’t behave professionally.  In this manner, we use the term to refer to a personal integrity.  To throw in another wrench, professionalism also seems to be amalgamating with political correctness.  Now one is expected to perform with virtue as well as model proper, cool lingo in conflict avoidance.  In this, I think we are confusing being good with looking good.  Fake it till you make it. This week my pastor preached on the Parable of the Minas in Luke 19:11-27.  Here Jesus is showing his disciples that their whole idea of his kingdom is misconstrued.  They were expecting immediate royal rule and prosperity.  Jesus explains that he’s going to be gone for a while before he fully consummates his kingdom on earth.  There is an already/not yet tension going on.  So in the parable, the nobleman gives ten servants each a mina (about three months salary) to do business with before he returns to claim his kingdom.  Upon his return, we see that the servants were held accountable for their trading and gain.  The servants were rewarded for their profitable gains, and the one who did not invest his mina in any way had it taken from him. Here Jesus is describing a true professional as one who creates gain.  I love John Calvin’s exposition: Now, the gain which Christ mentions is general usefulness, which illustrates the glory of God.  For, though God is not enriched, and makes no gain, by our labours, yet when every one is highly profitable to his brethren, and applies advantageously, for their salvation, the gifts which he has received from God, he is said to yield profit, or gain, to God himself.  So highly does our heavenly Father value the salvation of men, that whatever contributes to it he chooses to place to his own account.  That we may not become weary in doing well, (Gal. 6:9,) Christ declares that the labour of those who are faithfully employed in their calling will not be useless (Calvins Commentaries Vol. XVI, p. 443). I’ve already been paid.  And there’s much more to come.  But what am I doing with what I’ve been given?  Am I putting it out there for the use of the common good?  Sometimes we have that fearful feeling like Matt and I did leaving the protective care of those nurses.  While Christ is at the right hand of his Father, his rule has not yet been made manifest to the world.  But he has dispersed his people in the world to put to use what we have been given.  He equips us with different spiritual gifts, natural abilities, and opportunities to further advance his gospel message and to better serve our neighbors for the common good of his civil kingdom.  Like my pastor Jerry said, only Christ will make known its value.  He will bring to light what is hidden in the darkness.  He will reveal the true professionals.