The Bureau of Labor Statistics released the July Employment Situation report. At first glance, the report seemed strong. The monthly change in private payrolls, at 205,000, was about 30,000 greater than pre-report expectations. Similarly, the month-to-month change in total nonfarm payrolls, at 209,000, was also about 30,000 higher than forecasts. But, manufacturing employment increased 16,000 for the month—more than 5 times forecasts!
Average hourly earnings increased 0.3 percent for the month (compared to 0.2 percent in June), while the average workweek remained unchanged at 34.5 hours. The participation rate increased from 62.8 to 62.9 percent. The headline unemployment rate fell from 4.4 percent to 4.3 percent. The largest monthly increase in employment was in the leisure and hospitality sector, which tends to be populated with waitresses and bartenders.
Details reveal that the primary reason for the strong job numbers was the growth of part-time jobs. Part-time employment increased 393,000 for the month, while full-time employment fell 54,000. Voluntary part-time employment increased, and the number of workers with part-time jobs for economic reasons fell. In July, temporary help services employment grew at more than 5X the June level, which could be a leading indicator of future full-time job strength.
Part-time workers do not typically have employer-supplied benefits, and often do not have the access to training or opportunities for promotion which full-time employees experience. In exchange, part-time employees will not usually show the loyalty, and might not have the productivity of their full-time counterparts.
Unfortunately, today's Christian culture (especially in America) too often displays a part-time attitude. Believers, with this attitude, have a Christian part of their lives and a non-Christian (or at least a hidden-Christian) portion Somehow, they believe they can live the way they want or put their Christianity aside during the week, and not have any negative consequences as long as they have fulfilled their Christian duty in other ways. We are called to be full-time disciples. Whether our calling is in church, business, education, medicine, the services, the home or the arts, we are called to be light in a world filled with darkness.
"Let your light so shine before men that they may see your good works and glorify your Father who is in heaven" (Matt. 5:16).
Psychologists, and other behavioral scientists, may call this part-time attitude "compartmentalization." The Bible calls it the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes and the pride of life. It will manifest as hypocrisy—pretending to have beliefs or values that are not yet ours. Jesus referred to this part-time attitude when He warned that we cannot serve two masters. Although He was talking about money, it can be applied to anything. At some time, we will need to choose.
"For all that is in the world—the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life—is not of the Father, but is of the world" (1 John 2:16).
"No one can serve two masters. For either he will hate the one and love the other, or else he will hold to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and money" (Matt. 6:24).
In the parable of the sower, the Lord describes four different types of reactions to the Word. Close examination of the parable provides us with warnings, strategies and promises to prevent this part-time attitude.
1. The first type of reaction is the person who hears the Word of the kingdom but does not understand it. The evil one immediately snatches it away. Lesson: Teach the Word in its simplicity.
"When anyone hears the word of the kingdom and does not understand it, the evil one comes and snatches away what was sown in his heart" (Matt. 13:19a).
2. The second type of reaction is the person who immediately receives the Word with joy, but has no root. This person endures for a while, but falls away with tribulation or persecution. Lesson: Believers need discipleship and we should seek spiritual maturity.
"But he who received the seed on rocky ground is he who hears the word and immediately receives it with joy, yet he has no root in himself, but endures for a while. For when tribulation or persecution arises because of the word, eventually he falls away" (Matt. 13:20-21).
3. The third type of reaction is the person who hears the Word, but becomes distracted with the cares of this world and the deceitfulness of riches. The lack of focus chokes the Word and he becomes unfruitful. Lesson: Believers need a 24/7 kingdom focus. Part-time attitudes are dangerous.
"He also who received seed among the thorns is he who hears the word, but the cares of this world and the deceitfulness of riches choke the word, and he becomes unfruitful" (Mat. 13:22).
4. The fourth type of reaction is the person who hears the Word, understands it, and produces fruit. They will produce 30, 60 or 100 times what was sown. Lesson: believer's need to be fruitful as soon as we understand a concept from the Word — not just in church or on Sunday.
"But he who received seed on the good ground is he who hears the word and understands it, who indeed bears fruit. Some produce a hundred, sixty, or thirty times what was sown" (Matt. 13:23).
This 70-plus years of our lifetime are a mere dot in our eternal lifeline. We can change eternity for ourselves and others by fulling our calling and being full-time disciples of Jesus.
"I have spoken these things to you, that My joy may remain in you, and that your joy may be full" (John 15:11).
Dr. James Russell is a professor of economics at Oral Roberts University.
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