At Work & Economics 101 & Public Square & Theology 101

Salt, Light, and A Stockbroker: A Story of Flourishing

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How can the skills needed to be a stockbroker be used to save the lives of nearly 700 children?

It all has to do with being salt and light in our vocations, and how being salt and light helps bring about flourishing.

Being Salt & Light In Our Vocations

We have recently spent time discussing flourishing and what it looks like to reweave shalom. Part of bringing about shalom, often translated as “peace,” requires Christians to be salt and light. Jesus, in the Sermon on the Mount, explains to us exactly what this means:

You are the salt of the earth. But if the salt loses its saltiness, how can it be made salty again? It is no longer good for anything, except to be thrown out and trampled underfoot. You are the light of the world. A town built on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.

The gravity of this directive should not be underestimated. We are the light of the world. This is something we must live out prayerfully every day for it to be fulfilled. The strength required to accomplish it is not our own, but divinely appointed.

The beauty and wonder of being salt and light is that God uses the ordinary skills and talents in each of us to bring about extraordinary results. That is why it so important to know your skills and focus on them. Being salt and light requires virtue and humility. It also requires us to be at the ready when God calls us.

The greatest opportunity we each have to be salt and light is through our work. It’s where we spend a great deal of our waking hours, and our skills are often honed amid humbling circumstances. Yet this shaping can be used in ways beyond our ability to imagine.

Salt, Light, & A Stockbroker

The story of Sir Nicholas Winton, a British stockbroker, illustrates these truths about salt and light. There is currently a petition circulating asking the Nobel Prize Committee to award the Nobel Peace Prize to Winton. This is his story:

Winton was born in England in 1909, and baptized in the Anglican Church by grandparents of German Jewish decent. He grew up to be a stockbroker. In 1938 his friend asked Winton to forgo a ski vacation and visit Czechoslovakia as part of a British Committee for Refugees to Czechoslovakia.

As part of his trip he toured refugee camps. Winton was concerned that war was imminent and worried about the increasing violence against the Jewish community. He was made aware of a Jewish agency in Britain which helped rescue 10,000 Jewish children.

Winton decided to start a relief effort of his own which would require raising 50 pounds per child to be paid to the British government just for transport. He also worked to raise other necessary funds and find foster homes for each child. Through it all he kept his job as a stockbroker by day, and worked on his relief efforts by night.

In total it is believed that he saved 669 children. Winton never spoke a word about his efforts. It wasn’t until his wife found a scrapbook in the attic 50 years later that he began to speak publicly about his story. He is now 104 years old, and has been reunited with some of the children and the 6,000 members of his “extended family.” A movie has been released that tells his story.

How You Can Be Salt & Light

What Winton did was heroic. It’s something most of us will never have the opportunity to do, but it doesn’t mean we can’t be salt and light.

Think of the talents and skills that Winton needed to be a stockbroker. They are probably the same skills he relied on when organizing the rescue of almost 700 children. It required someone who wasn’t afraid to take risks. It required strategic thinking and a view for the long-term impact. What served him well in his vocation served him well when God called him to save those children. This is no accident.

God has gifted you with a specific bundle of skills, talents, and vision which make you suited for very specific things. These skills that allow you to serve others through your work allow you to serve others across all dimensions. This requires that we make calculated decisions about what work to pursue, as well as about our work in the church and in civil society.

Os Guinness reminds us that we are called to be salt and light in four areas:

  • Family
  • Community
  • Church
  • Work

It’s just as important to use your skills and talents in volunteer work as it is in your career. Winton did just that. His heroic efforts in saving children doesn’t make his day job any less important. In fact, he kept his day job. What’s important is that we take our core skills and stretch them across all four areas of life to serve the body of Christ.

How are you using your work to be salt and light in the world? Leave your comments here

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