Focus Passage:Genesis 11: The Tower of Babel
This one’s a familiar tale from Genesis. If you grew up in the faith, you surely learned it as a child. The people of the world, all speaking the same language, settling in a new valley and starting work on a tower that would reach to the sky. Then the Lord coming down, confusing their language and scattering them across the face of the earth. As familiar as the story is, the drama often distracts our attention from the lessons it seeks to impart. We might think it’s about a tower, when it’s really about obedience. We might think it’s about quashing human unity and accomplishment, when it’s really about the one and only thing that’s worthy of our faith. It sounds like an earthly drama, but it’s all about eternity.
Just two chapters earlier in Genesis, God had commanded mankind to “fill the earth.” The people of Babel didn’t listen. Instead of scattering to honor God’s will, they settled, literally and figuratively. Settled in a valley instead of spreading their wings. Settled for a life built around their works and their agendas instead of one given wholly to a deep, abiding, obedient relationship with their Creator. They thought their hard work, wrapped in the trappings of teamwork and producing a prodigious result, would secure their immortality, their legacy, their worth. But they were completely missing the bigger story God had ready for them.
Doesn’t that sound just like the American workaholic?The overachievers who can never rest because they’re never sure a large enough monument has been built. The self-assured doers whose superficial relationships and superficial busy-ness never seem purpose-driven and never fill the spiritual tank.The great communicators who are in daily denial about the non-language language barriers that are damaging bonds with co-workers, spouses, children and friends. The tireless workers who constantly run hard toward what they believe is an answer, only to find themselves further and further from the truth.
Psalm 127 reminds us of that truth: “Unless the Lord builds the house, they labor in vain who build it.”
As the owner of two businesses, this passage hits me hard. Am I letting the Lord build my businesses, or am I constantly engaged in a hostile takeover? Is my labor in vain or does it honor God and serve his will? Do I communicate in a God-centered language with my business partners and co-workers, or have I allowed splintered, selfish communications to dictate how we connect?
A frequent refresh on these questions can help clarify what can be very blurred lines in the workplace. On the one hand, a gratifying and successful career often requires boldness, ambition and drive. Success at work can surely be good and godly. Just make sure the achievements and accomplishments are grounded not in bravado, but in the certainty of a life given over to Christ. The people of Babel were willing to sacrifice anything – even God – to win some hope of immortality. But God promises eternity if we’ll just let Him show us the way.
Questions to Ponder:
1.) How do the people of Babel remind us of some potentially harmful team and purpose dynamics in our own work environment?
2.) How do you purposefully let God be the architect of your work life and the things you’re trying to build there?
3.)How can you improve your “work language” to better reflect God’s influence?
4.) Are there any Towers of Babel in your home or work lives that might be threatening your relationship with God?
5.) Are there examples of when you’ve been too willing to sacrifice something eternal for business success?
Bio: Jon Reischel:
Jon Reischel: I am the co-owner of ColorNine, a marketing and communications agency, and RedLine Athletics, a youth sports training center that help young athletes get stronger, faster and more confident.I’m a native Detroiter and graduate of the University of Michigan. I currently live in Blue Ash with my wife Lisa and kids Chris and Maddy.
Random fact: My great grandfather once had a tryout with the Detroit Tigers.