Monday, February 25, 2013

Stories and Worldviews

One of my responsibilities at work is to manage our company’s social media accounts, including Twitter. If you’re familiar with it, you know that most people use their real names in the Twitter “handle” or in their profile. Many don’t. Twitter allows you to participate without revealing your identity.

We get our share of profanity, invective, outright lies and distortions, and even the occasional threat via Twitter. One day, a tweet popped up with an accusation that was so blatantly untrue and provocative that we decided it had to be answered. We were polite, and cited a third party link disproving what was being claimed. The person tweeting responded with a loud wail. “Well, it should be true because you’re so evil.”

Welcome to the subject of worldviews.

In Every Good Endeavor: Connecting Your Work to God’s Work, Tim Keller discusses the importance of stories and worldviews. A story is a narrative, and narratives, he says, “are actually so foundational to how we think that they determine how we understand and live life itself.” Our narratives form and structure our worldview, from the German word Weltanschauung, meaning “the comprehensive perspective from which we interpret all reality.”

A worldview, Keller says, is a master narrative, a fundamental story about what life should be like, what has knocked it off balance, and what can be done to make it right.

If you think worldviews don’t matter, look at Washington, D.C., and the war of worldviews over spending, the budget, and the size of government. Our worldviews are growing more extreme, but that’s another story.

As Christians, we, too, have a worldview, the Christian worldview. We know there is wrong in all of us – and it’s called sin. (If you are uncomfortable with the word “sin,” and many Christians are – another worldview at play here – you can substitute “brokenness.”) We know there is wrong among all of us – and it’s called sin. And we know what can be done to make it right, or move it in a right direction – and that’s called faith in Christ.

Perhaps less obviously and spectacularly than politics, this plays itself out at work, too. A worldview exists at all organizations. It may be capitalist, for example. A strong component of the worldview at my company is technology. Other workplaces have worldviews that are outward-focused, inward- focused, utilitarian, benevolent, patriarchal and more.

As a Christina in a largely secular workplace, am I expected to conform and share the prevailing worldview?

In a word, no.

I see the sin and brokenness play itself out each and every day. And I have to decide how to act and respond, each and every day.

It’s not easy.

I’ve talked with enough Christians who work in Christian workplaces to know it’s not easy there, either. The secular workplace doesn’t have a monopoly on sin and brokenness.

A few weeks ago, I made a decision to start each day tell myself three things.

God’s creation is good.

The world is fallen.

That nasty person who knifes me in the back is just as much loved by God as I am; that person, too, is made in God’s image.

It’s not so much changing my worldview and fully embracing it.

Over at The High Calling, we’ve been discussing Every Good Endeavor. We complete the discussion today, and this section had a lot of material to cover, which I might write on another time. Please visit The High Calling to see more of what’s being thought about and said.


Laura said...

Glynn, I think I'm going to adopt your "three things strategy" each morning too. :) I found the discussion on how sin impacts work very helpful in my current situation at work. Sometimes it's just hard, isn't it? I keep hanging on for those glimpses of Eden that Keller and Alsdorf talk about.

Thanks for your company through this book. I always love reading your thoughts.

H. Gillham said...

Broken. We all are.

What a great word you have here as always.

Michael Dodaro said...

You and I, Glynn, work at companies that are targets for a lot hatred. Unfortunately, some of it seems to be justifiable if not always coherent.