Friday, October 10, 2014

Yoke of freedom

It was Friday, but like every other day of the week, Jim came to the office wearing dark slacks, a dress shirt, and a tie. I saw him in the break room.

“You know, Jim, you don’t have to wear a tie to work every day.”

Jim didn’t look away from pouring his coffee. “I like wearing a tie.”

“The dress code says ties are optional all days of the week, and jeans and polo shirts are permitted on Friday.”

“Fortunately the dress code allows me the freedom to dress how I want to dress,” Jim rebutted dryly.

I scoffed loudly. I confess I enjoyed a spirit of rivalry with this man, that to my disappointment he did not reciprocate in the least. The more he ignored my attempts to antagonize him, the more jubilant I was at besting him in some small way, proving in my mind I was the better man.

I walked around him deliberately, my steps slow and loud. “Who are you trying to impress?” I said.

“You assume I’m wearing a tie out of obligation. You’re wrong. I wear what I want.”

“So you’re more comfortable with that yoke hanging around your neck.”

He set the coffee pot down and faced me. “It’s not about comfort. It’s about being professional and being committed to the mission. Since, according to your words, you are more comfortable without a tie, I assume you are more comfortable in jeans and a polo shirt, which you’re wearing now.”

“Indeed.”

“So you would rather dress every day of the week like it’s Friday.”

“Well, that’s taking it a little far—”

“Just between you and me, tell the truth: You hold it against management that they tell you how to dress, don’t you?”

I bit my tongue, astonished at how deftly I had been disarmed. If I said no, I would be admitting to wanting to dress a certain way to work, dress code be damned, despite a degree of discomfort, which was Jim’s argument. But if I said yes, I would be confessing to a resentment I truly did not feel.

Jim continued: “Does a mother nurse her child because he cries and she wants to satisfy him? Does a firefighter run into a burning building because his captain tells him to? They would be a poor mother and a poor firefighter if that were the case. Do hostile nations comply with the terms of a peace treaty between them?”

“Some do,” I answered.

“Would you say they are united?”

“No, they are as much at war with each other as before, in their minds.”

“Indeed. Therefore, do not take the same attitude with what is demanded of you from an ally, a teammate, a friend, a brother, which is what we are. If you dress for work going by what the dress code says, no matter what the dress code says, you have a bigger problem than the dress code, my friend.”

He raised his coffee mug to me and left the break room. I returned to my desk with some things to think about.

You have been set free from sin and have become slaves to righteousness. (Romans 6:18)

It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery. (Galatians 5:1)

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