Modern personnel practices in secular business settings emphasize the importance of performance appraisals. Some of that spills over into our perspective on our life as followers of Jesus Christ. That is not necessarily a good thing.
Business and the economy are concerned with performance and productivity. People are useful as long as they are able to contribute to the bottom line. People easily become cogs in the wheels of commerce.
Jesus was concerned about fruitfulness. He said, "Abide in me as I abide in you. Just as the branch cannot bear fruit by itself unless it abides in the vine, neither can you unless you abide in me. I am the vine, you are the branches. Those who abide in me and I in them bear much fruit, because apart from me you can do nothing" (John 15:4-5).
I helped a family say goodbye to a loved one who was a renowned surgeon, husband, father, and Christian gentleman. During those last minutes of his life, they were not concerned in the least with his performance. They spoke of the wonderful life he lived and the stewardship of his gifts as a physician that allowed him to heal, save lives, give people another chance. "That was why he was put here," they said. He understood that God had made him a physician and guided his hands in God's healing work. He lived a fruitful life.
Every life he touched made a difference to others. We'll never know how many. I recalled a bit of wisdom:"Anyone can count the number of seeds in an apple, but only God can count the number of apples in a seed." Fruitful people go around planting seeds. Those seeds germinate, take root, sprout, grow, and produce fruit. And so the process continues from generation to generation.
Here's a question: When you die, do you want someone to say about you, "He always had good performance appraisals," or do you want it said, "He lived a fruitful life"?
Do what you have to do to earn a living, keep your job, and provide for your family. Be a top performer. But don't confuse being a cog in the wheel with living a fruitful, abundant, Christian life.
The Very Reverend Ron Pogue
St. Martin-in-the-Fields Episcopal Church