modern day parable…

So let’s say that a vineyard, which stretches along one of the most magnificent hillsides you have ever seen, has been handed over to you and some other workers to fix-up in order to begin producing a good fruit. If you are feeling under-qualified or uneasy about this endeavor at this point, don’t worry. Even if you have never worked in a vineyard, the workers you are joining have an intimate knowledge of what it takes to care for this vineyard.

Within the first couple of days on the job you are overwhelmed with excitement. The workers gather together as you begin listening to them talk about the vineyard. You are blown away by their knowledge of the vineyard, the process, and the variety of grapes. Everyday you think, “How could people know so much about the process of growing grapes! What a wealth of knowledge!” The amount of information that you are learning is staggering, and invaluable. You have learned so much in such a short amount of time and you are beginning to feel confident and completely prepared to begin the work.

As the days turn into weeks and weeks into months, the workers continue to gather together to talk about the same things. They talk about the vineyard, the work, and the grapes. What was once new information has become repetitious, redundant, and really quite religious. Each morning they perform the same routine. They have a group chant that celebrates the graciousness of the owner for letting them gather together. Then, the workers have lunch together. Finally, one of the workers stands in front of the others to speak, and his message is the same each time. He typically talks about how the workers should behave on the job, how the vineyard is falling apart and someone should do something about it, how the workers need to recruit more potential workers to meet with them, and then wraps it up by saying that he can’t wait until the owner calls and invites them all to live in his vacation home with him as a bonus for behaving so well on the job. They usually wrap up the day by discussing their plans for a larger and more up to date maintenance building that will hold more workers, their plans to add more worker programs that will attract and impress more potential workers, and their need for new, clean, and vibrant uniforms so that those being interviewed won’t think that they have to get dirty on the job. The workers love it! They are just as excited to talk about the run-down vineyard and the vacation home as they were the day before. Long live the vineyard owner!

Quite confused, you begin to wonder if the workers have any intention of really ever going into the vineyard to do the work rather than just talking about it. “What sense does it make to hire more workers and spend more money on facilities and programs, when all they do is sit around in the maintenance building all day and talk about how they ought to behave on the job?,” you think to yourself. Your confusion turns into nervousness, as you contemplate whether or not you should confront the workers about the work they have neglected. Instead of a prized and abundant vineyard that it could be, and once was becoming, the land has become nothing more than dried and cracked ground parched and begging for water. The vines and branches are broken, and have been left dangling above the dusty ground. And, what was expected to be the finest yield of grapes of this age, have turned into black, shriveled shells of opportunity lost.

Mustering courage from down deep, you finally gather the workers together and walk them out to the scarred hillside. For what seems like moments of eternity, all you can do is stare at skeleton vines dancing in the dust. Finally, you ask the question that should have been asked a long time ago.

“Ladies and gentleman, look at this hillside! Do you realize that while you have been talking about the vineyard, the facilities, the programs, and the vacation home, the work never got done and now it is too late!”

The workers looked at each other in shock and utter amazement as one replied, “What do you mean? We don’t understand what you are talking about.”

“You don’t understand what I am talking about! Are you kidding me! We were hired to work in this vineyard and to produce a good fruit. And, the owner gave us everything we needed to get the job done and get the job done right! But all you have been focusing on is how to be better workers, bigger and better facilities and programs, and ways to recruit more workers to hang out with you!”

The workers huddled together as if deliberating a verdict. Finally, the same man who spoke earlier stepped forward and announced, “While it is true that we were hired, you were not correct when you said that we were hired to work.”

“What do you mean!” you yell perplexed and exasperated. “What exactly do you think you were hired for anyway?!”

“Well, you may have thought you were hired to work in the vineyard, but when we were hired all we were asked was, ‘Do you know how to work a vineyard?’ and we said, ‘Yes, we most certainly do know how to work a vineyard, and we may know more about it than any other group of people in the area.’ And, that is how we were hired. We weren’t hired to work the vineyard. We were hired because we know how to work the vineyard. We get together each day to talk about how much we know, and love it when more workers are hired to learn about all the things that we know. That is why we hired you!”

pushing in love…