Tuesday, December 10, 2013

The Free Man that Works From Home

My sister, Hannah, took this picture of me inspecting a bee
hive in a sunflower field this summer.
    It's been a little over one year since I left the only factory job I've worked and became a "free man" (I'll explain more about this term later).  Since I was a teenager my family had drilled it into me that you want to work from home.  My dad would express his desire to do this and passed that desire to me.  After more than five years of working in a factory I knew without a doubt that the dreams my family had for me were my dreams also.  I recognised the limit of time in the day and by coming home I could pursue my dreams with less fetters.
     I was talking with another beekeeper recently and he told me some interesting things about our factory culture.  He reassured me that the factory mindset in the people all around us is not a mistake or just something that happened out of convenience, but was planned.  I knew about some of these things because as a teenager I had helped put together information for people in our local school district about Outcome Based Education (OBE).  I helped a group of concerned parents to alert the community about how their children would be trained to the specifications of big companies. Instead of teaching children basic skills so they could pursue their own dreams they were to be trained according to what large companies wanted them to learn in a cookie-cutter fashion. My beekeeper acquaintance told me how factories are purposely built without windows so people don't think about the outside world. This also stops the employees from thinking as much about time. He said that these things started with Henry Ford's company. Schools have been working at this for a long time. They would start the day with a bell.  (Oh yes, I remember in parochial school the old bell that went off to start the day.)  After a few years the young people would graduate (where did they come up with that term?) and go to work for Mr. Ford. In the factory the day started off with a bell. Indeed, they were being programmed. You see, the factories had tried to hire the old farmers, but it didn't work. The old farmers would not be forced to stand in one spot all day doing the same mindless thing in the sunless buildings. No, man was not created to behave like this. They would have to be trained.

     He then went on to tell me how he had hired young people to do work out in a vineyard.  He said he watched them literally melt.  They didn't know what to do without their music.   They couldn't face themselves.   Most factories have music because of their unnatural environment.  It's another way to get people's minds off from time, and even facing themselves.   He reminded me that there is something very special about just going to a bee yard and only hearing the buzzing of bees and having your own thoughts. 

Here I am promoting my small business (Standing Stone
Honey) at a local farmers market.  It has been a good
learning experience.
      One exciting thing about working for yourself is that you can have the freedom to make things and do things in better ways. This can happen in a factory, but I remember how this freedom was squashed at times, and things proceeded inefficiently. Helpful information might be shared, but someone else would seek to take the credit. Many times I wanted to learn something new, but was not permitted to. In a home business you are not as limited in these things, but the risks that come along with with responsibility are all on you. In a factory setting it is not uncommon that a person finds himself surrounded by people that want to advance themselves and are happy to crush others to make themselves look better in the process. There was a report that was in the news a while back that was based on a college study that told how gruff, unthoughtful people are more likely to find job advancements over friendly, agreeable people. This is probably true to some degree and the problem gets worst as people with more power seemingly have the ability show their bad side with impunity. There could be a debate about whether power corrupts or if power reveals. Another piece to that puzzle is that corrupt people are most powerfully attracted to power.
       Getting back to the term "free man." In the Bible it is used to refer to a man that is not a slave.  There are parallels with slavery and being an employee.  The wage hours do not belong to the employee.  He has sold himself during those hours.  I still remember a doctor that worked for a clinic.  He and my Dad talked about the desire to work for themselves.  The doctor recognized the benefits he would have if he owned his own office.  It helped me to see the position many doctors find themselves in and why people often end up being just numbers when they come to a big hospital.  The wage earning doctor has to make a quota like a factory man, and the people coming to him end up being a number to fill that quota.

    I mentioned before that in a factory setting credits often go to the wrong places.  Such is life.  My Dad told me again and again growing up that "life is not fair."  As a believer in Christ I want Christ to get the credit for the right things I do.  This credit needs to go to Christ whether at a factory job or a home business.  In fact, the Bible says that the man that is "free" is "Christ's servant."  If you're working at home the opportunities to glorify Christ could be greater.  If you have greater freedom, it is that much more opportunity to use that freedom to serve Christ.  This is why Scripture says, "Ye are bought with a price; be not ye the servants of men." Now we can serve Christ with less freedom, but if you can be free be free like Saint Paul said,  "Art thou called being a servant? care not for it: but if thou mayest be made free, use it rather.  I understand that these passages are to be understood in the context of slavery and freedom, but I believe we can apply them to our lives in the same way as the New Testament believers by recognizing that God wants us more free to serve Him.  I believe the parallels between the free man and the entrepreneur are striking.  The decision to run a home business needs to be done with prayer and understanding as it is likely that rash decisions in starting a business could lead to greater bondage rather than freedom and would bring a quick realization of the saying, "better the devil you know."  Be it known that taking some risks is a part of living in a free society.

     For fathers I recommend that you instill it into your children that "if thou mayest be made free, use it rather."  Help them to be able to think for themselves by giving them responsibilities over certain areas.  In whatever lot of life we are in we can live free.  We could be in prison, and yet in our heart be more free than a king in his palace.   I think this is why Paul says, "he that is called in the Lord, being a servant, is the Lord's freeman."  Those that belong to Christ are His servants whether they control their own hours or not because He bought them.  It needs to be our goal to seek to make our lives more free to serve Him.  When we are doing our jobs, building a business or punching in the time clock it is important to not lose sight of why we do it.  Winston Churchill said, "We make a living by what we get, but we make a life by what we give."  For the believer in Christ this works out in building God's kingdom; that is the end purpose of our occupation.  May God grant us the wisdom to fulfill our purpose.

    The writer of the following poem is unknown, but I believe it fits well with what has been said.

Measure thy life by loss instead of gain,
Not by the wine drunk, but the wine poured forth;
For love's strength standeth in love's sacrifice,
And whoso suffers most hath most to give.
For labor, the common lot of man,
Is part of the kind Creator's plan;
And he is a king whose brow is wet
With the pearl-gemmed crown of honest sweat.
Some glorious day, this understood,
All toilers will be a brotherhood,
With brain or hand the purpose is one,
And the Master-workman, God's only Son.


  1. Hi Ron,

    Good blog post. I couldn't agree more.

    Yes, life is not fair. But, as I've considered this truism, it has occurred to me that I suppose it all depends on our perspective. From a Biblical point of view, God is utterly sovereign in His providence. Our lives are in His hands. He directs our paths. "All things work together for good to them that love God, who are called according to His purpose." So it may well be that what we often think is not fair is entirely fair, at least from God's perspective, and it is for good, though we often do not see it. This way of thinking is surely not of this world, and contrary to human nature.

    There's something to ponder on this wintery Sunday with church cancelled. I hope you're getting dug out okay.

  2. Herrick,
    You are right. God has the big picture and His painting is awsome!