FAITH AT WORK
Pastor Jim Melvin
Welcome! I served as a pastor in a Lutheran Church 28 years prior to developing the Corporate Chaplain program at Corporate Contractors, Inc. I feel privileged to be able to get to know CCI associates and witness the amazing work that they perform. I also welcome people who are not part of the CCI family to call upon our Chaplain services. Although trained as a Lutheran minister, I like to learn from and work with people of all religious traditions or faiths. I can also appreciate people who have been alienated from the church or don’t feel any attachment to religion. Experience has taught me that we all encounter times in life when we can use spiritual guidance or have someone to listen to us on a deeper level than our ordinary conversations. I hope that this website will be of value to you in your faith journey.
Pastor Jim Melvin
Chaplain Corporate Contractors, Inc.
We all are familiar with the word Israel, from the daily news if nowhere else. Israel in Hebrew literally means the one who struggled with God. What an appropriate name for that war-torn nation. The Jewish people, who are known for their faithfulness, are the ones who continually struggle with God who seems to let bad things happen to them. Their faith allows them to question God in hard times.
Some of you also have struggled with faith. Some have grown up in the church and have struggled to square what the church teaches with the un-Christian ways some people in the church behave. Others of you grew up believing in God only to have those beliefs shattered by things you learned in school, such as the universe has been created over billions of years, not seven days. A lot of us wonder why God lets us and the ones we love suffer and die.
To be honest, faith provides more questions than answers. But it’s in the struggle that the value of faith is to be found. It’s in the struggle that we can gain true wisdom and the courage to live life to its fullest.
Your faith impacts every single area of your life, including your marriage, family, work, and your own well-being. I don’t pretend to have answers to all of life’s mysteries. I’m not sure I have any answers at all. What I want to do here is share what I have learned in some of my own faith struggles that might help you in yours.
I’ve spent the last 30 years, not quite half of my life, as a Lutheran Pastor. I wasn’t born a pastor, but I was born a Lutheran. My Grandparents came from Germany and proudly displayed a portrait of that dour looking Martin Luther on the dining room wall. The picture gave me indigestion, or maybe it was grandma’s smelly sauerkraut that she fermented in big crocks in the cellar that was responsible. My experiences in confirmation class were just as likely to give me a sour stomach, but I was required to ingest Luther’s teachings along with sauerkraut.
Let’s just say that my early religious experience left a sour taste in my mouth. So, I did what most of my fellow newly minted Lutherans did. I spent my high school years trying to forget what I hadn’t learned very well in the first place. I never rejected God or Jesus; I just didn’t feel that they had an important role in my life.
When I went off to a Lutheran college, I didn’t envision church or faith plays an important role in my life again. I attended chapel every Wednesday, but only because they took a picture of those in attendance. Seriously? They checked the pictures faithfully and if your seat was empty you were treated to a visit to the Dean of Students the next day, a man with a face as dour as that portrait of Martin Luther.
I told you; faith is a struggle.
The other thing that happened during my college years that further convinced me that faith was unnecessary was an introduction to and subsequent deep interest in the life sciences. Being a biology major, I gobbled up Darwin’s theory of evolution and was amazed by the power of genetics and the beauty of the newly discovered double helix of the DNA molecule. God got crowded out of my worldview.
It took another 10 years before I began to think about my faith in a significant way again. When I turned 30, however, two events occurred in my life that stirred up something deeply spiritual within me, the birth of my daughter and the death of a friend. This awakening would open a more mature and meaningful way to think about life, faith, and God.
There is no life event that brings people back to church or gets them thinking about life more than the birth of a child. That their family wants them to get their child baptized and grow up in the church is only part of the story. Having a baby, witnessing new life come into the world, is a life-changing event. The creation of life, whether or not it’s your own child, can only be described as a miraculous experience. My wife and I were blessed to experience that miracle first hand.
In a less positive but just as awe-inspiring way, witnessing the death of someone we love, especially the death of a young friend such as ours, forces upon us the finality and inevitability of our own mortality. We begin to foresee the loss of more friends and family in the future. Experiencing loss is a reality that will end only when we let go of this life ourselves.
So, I think it no accident that my wife and I returned to the church and to faith with a vengeance. We had Emily baptized, sent her to daycare at our church, and I signed up to teach Sunday school and helped lead worship on Sunday morning. Suddenly all those dour memories faded, and I felt a warm and comforting spirit pulling me back. During the crucial period, I started working as a hospice caregiver, mostly with young men facing the death sentence of a new killer in our midst, AIDS. I don’t know how, but it suddenly became clear to me that my life was headed to a life in the Lutheran ministry; so we packed up our things and off to seminary we went.
When I was growing up, I would have found it laughable to think that I would ever end up going to church, let alone working in one. Looking backward, however, it doesn’t seem improbable at all. We are all being shaped by our experiences. Explain it as you will, a spiritual force is at work in all of us. This spirit is loving and nurturing. As we struggle with our faith, we sense that we are supported in life by an incredibly loving and powerful God.
As I look back, I realize that in some ways becoming a pastor and working in a church was irrelevant. I could just as well have lived out my faith in any of the previous occupations I had along the way, truck driver, exterminator, school teacher, department store manager, to name a few. You also can live out your faith in any chosen job you have chosen.
Yes, faith is still a struggle, but personally, I wouldn’t have it any other way.
I hate it when people do this, but first, let me tell you what faith isn’t. Faith is NOT a belief. Belief is an acceptance that something is true or that something exists. I believe you when you say that roses, some roses anyway, are red. You may believe that God exists or that Jesus Christ is the Son of God.
The Christian religion is full of beliefs. Creeds are statements of beliefs or lists of propositions that true Christians are supposed to or required to believe. The Apostle’s Creed, the most popular of several creeds, states: I BELIEVE in God the Father. I BELIEVE in Jesus Christ God’s only Son our Lord. I BELIEVE in the resurrection of the dead and the life everlasting. I BELIEVE. I BELIEVE. I BELIEVE.
Now for what faith IS. Faith is trust. Faith is having complete confidence in someone or something. For Christians and people of many other world religions, faith is a trust in God.
At our birth, each of emerged from our dark pre-natal safety into a chaotic world of glaring lights and blaring noises. Our sources of oxygen and food were shut off. We were about to perish. We gasped for breath and cried out. But then we were saved. Our mothers wrapped us up in warm blankets and held us in their arms. In that renewed safety we found that we could breathe on our own and we were fed. We were passed to our fathers and from person to person among people who stroked us, cooed at us, and let us know that they would take care of us. Nothing was expected of us. Everything was free. We were learning to trust.
We learn to trust our parents and our circle of trust expands. We develop a circle of trust-worthy folks in our lives. Later on in life, many of us form a bond of trust with a spouse. Commonly in wedding vows the bride and groom make a promise, “I promise to be faithful to you.” I trust you and I promise that you can trust me.
It is not enough to believe that God exists. In fact, belief in God doesn’t help us at all. What is important is that we have FAITH in God, that we TRUST God. I trust that God is loving and has my best interest in heart. I trust that God will be with me through the best of times and the worst of times. Having faith is like trusting your mother or trusting your father. The love is free, unearned.
In a famous teaching, Jesus says, “If you have faith the size of a mustard seed, you can say to this mulberry tree, ‘Be uprooted and planted in the sea,’ and it will obey you.” Do you have that kind of faith? Maybe so. Maybe not. But I can guarantee, if you let yourself struggle with it, faith will not disappoint. Faith can move trees. Faith can move mountains.
Please, join me on a journey of discovery to find out how.
A Corporate Chaplain is someone hired by a business or organization to provide spiritual support and guidance to its associates in their work, personal, and family lives.
Absolutely not. The Chaplain will work with you no matter what your religious tradition or if you have no religious tradition at all. It is not the Chaplain’s purpose to convert you, but to help you in areas of spiritual life faced by everyone. On the other hand, the Chaplain comes from a religious background and can support you in your religious tradition.
No. The chaplain is bound by absolute confidentiality and is here to serve you, not your employer. Meetings with the Chaplain will be held in locations away from the workplace.
Maybe you don’t. But if you are like most people, life will throw you some curves and you might find it helpful to have another person who is there for you no matter what.
All services are provided free of charge.
Phone or text: (608) 774-8616