Thursday, December 8, 2016

Do new technologies steal jobs?

As someone who works in retail, one of my daily duties is to supervise, maintain and teach people how to use the Self-Service checkout systems. Now Some people are quick to catch on how to use them, others need a bit more practice and there are of course those who will avoid them altogether. The most common excuse: If people use those things, employees lose jobs.
Is this true? Does introducing new technologies into an industry reduce its workforce?

First of all, off the bat, having a self-service checkout at a supermarket is by no means a fool-proof system. In addition to the supervisor, to keep the self-serve running you also require
- The Sales Manager
- The payroll team to collect and process profits
- IT support
- Technicians to make on-sight repairs when necessary
So in that sense, having a self-service checkout system won’t reduce the number of staff – you actually require MORE people to keep them up and running smoothly.

Secondly, for anyone who’s worked in retail, you will NEVER hear the accusation that technology results in a loss of jobs from anyone under the age of sixty who carries a smart-phone in their pocket. These comments typically come from those around retirement age at most.

So what’s the reasoning behind equating technology with job loss?

Let me tell you a story: Around 2006, I worked an admin job for a government-run printing company here in Brisbane. Now this company at the time I started working used old analogue printers where in order to print a document, you would have to prepare a separate plate for each page. Some of the staff who were operating these machines had been in the industry for up to twenty, even thirty years.
Now around early 2007, the decision was made to bring in a pair of brand-new digital color printers which are obviously computerised. As we brought these machines in, our company also brought on a graphic design team so that not only could we print documents, we could make our own artwork and graphics to go with them.
So what happened to the people who were using the old printers? Most of them while being industry veterans, had no idea how to use a computer, much less create graphics with Photoshop. My task as an admin assistant was to research where they could get the training so they could be brought up to speed – which the company was willing to pay for. Guess how many people signed up for training? None. How long did they stay with the company? Not very long. Most ended up retiring early
Why was this? I daresay: complacency – they came to work doing the same tasks, the same way, day after day, month after month, year after year, with little change. The company itself did not lose jobs numerically by bringing in new technology – by necessity it actuality required more people as it grew and expanded both in it’s methods as well as the final products it sold. What changed was the criteria for required competency.
And that’s basically Business Management 101: As the market grows, so does demand for newer, better products. Newer products require research and development into new technologies. New technologies require new skills and competencies. New Skills and Competencies come through TRAINING. For a business and it’s employees to intentionally avoid this would be corporate suicide.
That being said, as these older team members eventually left their positions, who was to blame? Was it the company? The new graphic design team? Or… just themselves?   

I was having a conversation with an acquaintance from Singapore who’s currently applying for Australian citizenship. He said to me: “Ben, I honestly can’t understand the work ethic of older Australians.”
“Why’s that?”
He said: “Ben in Singapore, when a young man finishes school, he gets sent to boot camp to begin National Service in the Defence Forces. Every summer over the next three years, everything that is said and done by the recruits is centred upon meeting a standard that affects both yourself and your comrades. And if you fall below that standard, you work as hard as you can to get there, or you wash out. And that attitude carries on into work and education. I look at older Australians and they always want the path of least resistance – they don’t want to learn anything new, they’re unashamedly critical of higher education. But the moment you have a younger person – or even a migrant – come into the company with the latest skills and qualifications and quickly climbs the promotion ladder, they quickly throw up their hands in protest.”


 So the objection that new technologies steal jobs is simply not reasonable – At worst, it actually reflects a lazy work ethic.

So what do you think: Is this merely a generational issue, or is technology to blame? I’d love to know what your thoughts are

Wednesday, November 16, 2016

Why "GOD'S WONDERFUL PLAN" causes shame and cruelty


Consider the typical gospel presentation:

1. God LOVES you and has a wonderful PLAN for your life. 
2. Man is SINFUL and SEPARATED from God. Therefore, he cannot know and experience God's love and plan for his life. 
3. Jesus Christ is God's ONLY provision for man's sin. Through Him you can know and experience God's love and plan for your life. 
4. We must individually RECEIVE Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord; then we can know and experience God's love and plan for our lives.

That sounds like what it commonly taught by churches, student groups, and missionary groups. But is this a true explanation of the gospel, or even of how Christians actually live?

(roll intro)

So what’s wrong with saying that God has a Wonderful Plan for your life?
Obviously, The message is man-centred:
If you were to go around asking people what their idea of God’s wonderful plan for their life was, most of the answers you would receive would be very carnal in nature, referring to today secular, materialistic culture. The drawcard this method uses is one of life enhancement; If you accept Jesus into your life, your life will get better as a result of following God's plan.
   But by what standard exactly are we defining wonderful? When we look at the lives of the 12 Disciples and what they went through - hardships, persecutions, imprisonments, shipwrecks, ostracism, physical assault, martyrdom - as recorded in the book of Acts in addition to the plights of missionaries today who have experienced horrifying situations of persecution for sharing the gospel in areas that are hostile towards it, how can we reconcile a message of life enhancement with the truth of the adversity Christians suffer from for practicing their faith? How can anyone faithfully read Acts from cover to cover then look a non-Christian in the eye and joyfully say "God has a wonderful plan your life!"
   It's just not being honest. 

But what about the believers within the church – what does such a message ultimately say to those who already profess to be Christians?
If you’ve been in church long enough that you are able to be aware of what those in your immediate fellowship go through each week, you know all too well that the grass isn’t greener on the other side. You know that there are genuine Christians going through health problems, relationship issues, financial difficulties, tragedies.
But isn’t the gospel that says “God has a Wonderful Plan for your life” supposed to make Christians rise up and above such things? If the gospel is “Believe in Jesus, he will make life fulfilling, abundant and prosperous” but yet you have people inside the church going through the things I just mentioned, then either:
a) Such people are not Christians because their lives don’t line up with the message
b) That’s just not the true gospel.

If a church wants to be true to such a message, than obviously the worse thing you can do is have people going through difficulties talking about it openly to unbelievers.
 The false gospel of “God has a Wonderful plan for Your Life” has only served to produce multitudes of people who perpetually wear these emotionless smiles out of fear that by being honest and upfront about the realities of life, Christianity will seem empty and lifeless. Don’t talk about health problems. Don’t discuss relationship breakdowns. Don’t discuss relatives disowning you because your newfound faith conflicts with their own beliefs. Don’t say or do anything that would make the gospel seem like a killjoy for people’s lives. 

When believers undergoing trials and hardships are told to bring what was preached from the pulpit into the harvest field, they become the unwilling victims of accusations of hypocrisy on the part of those who are against Christianity. The authenticity of our testimony is immediately put under scrutiny. Who is going to believe the validity of our personal witness if our circumstances are not visibly better than those without Christ?

2 Corinthians 1:3-4 says

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our affliction, so that we may be able to comfort those who are in any affliction, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God.

Likewise, James 5:13-14 tells us

13 Is anyone among you suffering? Let him pray. Is anyone cheerful? Let him sing praise. 14 Is anyone among you sick? Let him call for the elders of the church, and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord.

Both of these texts refer to the church supporting believers who are undergoing suffering. But in all honesty, when you have a message that says that becoming a Christian is supposed to make life better, how is such compassion to expressed? Is it done in the open, is part of the Sunday worship gathering devoted to congregants praying for each other as well as meeting up during the week;  or is it done quietly in private behind closed doors lest unbelievers get the wrong impression? If the latter, then like it or not, what you have done is thrust upon people a culture of shame that the Bible gives no support for.

Whenever I hear a preacher say “God has a wonderful plan for your life”, "God wants you to be Prosperous", or “God wants you to Live your Best Life”, I can't help but automatically think of the Christians who are daily being murdered by groups like ISIS in the Middle East and Boko Haram in Africa; I think of parents who have to empty their bank accounts when one of their children suffers a serious illness that requires special treatment; I think about those I know within the church who struggle daily with depression and anxiety. 
I wonder how and why people can tolerate such preaching on one hand while and weep for the other at the same time - and yet not see any disconnect between the two. And it does beg the question: during the week, the pastor who is a faithful sheperd to those entrusted to his care will either do visitations or open his own door to listen to those who are struggling, and offer prayer and support. If there is anyone in the church who should understand the reality of Christian suffering, it should be the pastor, right? So what exactly goes through their mind when they meet with such people during the week, yet on Sundays they get behind the pulpit to deliver a life-enhancement message with the hopes that it will get people saved? Does that part of their psyche which lets them understand and empathise with others just get turned off, or do they just not really care at all?

If you’re a pastor, an evangelist or a missionary, you’re probably watching thid vid, and right now you’re upset, you’re irritated, you’re angry. You’re thinking of either leaving a nasty anonymous comment or hitting the dislike button. Well that’s good because it shows the understand the gravity of your responsibility. Hopefully you are considering that you need to rethink your message, take your church through some much needed evaluation, and take the necessary steps to reconcile with those whose lives have been seriously hurt by the kind of preaching im talking about.
If on the other hand, you’re not sure and your going to keep this on the shelf until it blows over, let me warn you: as a pastor of a local church, you may be currently dealing with what may seem like private trials that can be kept behind closed doors in secret. But it is inevitable that one day you will ghave to address an issue of such great tradegy within your church that everyone both within the congregation and outside the community will be aware of. The onus is going to be upon you to say and do what is right before the parties involved, as well as the Lord Jesus himself. And that will be the true test of whether you really are a true shepard or whether you are a hirling who runs away when the times get tough.

Now I’m assuming that the vast majority of people watching this vid are not iordained pastors or evangelists, but everyday church members, just as I am. If you understand what I’m saying, you’re wondering where can I go to learn more or how can I get the word out – I recommend you listen to the sermon “Hell’s best Kept Secret” by Ray Comfort. This message changed my Christian walk, it changed the way I share the gospel, how I view salvation, everything. But have a listen, forward it to others in your church, to your pastor, your evangelism team. Share it with them and meet up later to talk about it.
I say this with urgency because there will come a time when those who are ministers of the gospel, the pastors and evangelists, those on television, the authors of the books you read – they will have to face God on judgment day, not on the basis of whether they go to heaven or hell, but what did as stewards of the gospel. No doubt there will be many who will step forward expecting jesus to say “well done, good and faithful servant” but insterad he will say “how could you be so cruel to the ones I placed in your care?”

Church, we cannot keep ignoring the reality of Christians who suffer as a consequence of their faith – both abroad as well as in our immediate fellowship. Let’s stop pretending. Let’s end the shame. Let’s end the silence. Thankyou for watching.