Some of you may remember that up until my recent retirement, I spent the last almost twenty-eight years working for Honda. There are a great many things that one learns when surrounded by a culture that is completely foreign to your own, and I will always be grateful for the many life lessons I learned while there.
I still remember my first nervous days at Honda, days in which I often found myself thinking “what have I done, and what am I doing here”? To say I endured a bit of culture shock would be a huge understatement, as every day I was exposed to ideas, philosophies, and customs unlike anything I had ever seen or heard.
In my new hire orientation for example, I learned that the Japanese placed a great deal of emphasis on ‘Respect’. So much so, that the foundational operating principle that guides Honda is ‘Respect for the Individual’.
It doesn’t matter if you are male or female, it doesn’t matter what your race or ethnicity is, it doesn’t matter if you are a college graduate or if you had to drop out of school to go to work at an early age. ‘Respect for the Individual‘ means every person is valued.
Every operational decision is based upon that principle, and it has served the company (and those who worked there) very well. As an aside, one cannot help but wonder how much better off all companies would be if they placed this same priority on ‘Respect for the Individual‘.
In my career at Honda, I was exposed to many different and unique aspects of the Japanese culture. What was common, or normal from my limited American perspective of things became something entirely different when looked at through the lens of a people who date back to the 8th century.
Take a broken pottery vase for example. In my eyes, a broken vase is just that; broken and no longer suitable for the purpose for which it was created. Broken, useless, and ready for the trash.
To the Japanese however, that broken vase represents something entirely different. You see, they have a form of art called ‘kintsugi’ (pronounced keen-TSOO-gee), where a broken piece of pottery is put back together again with lacquer and then dusted with gold powder.
To them, the once broken pottery is made even more beautiful because of, not in spite of, its many imperfections.
I like to think of our new lives in Christ in much the same way. All of us were broken vessels at one time, ready to be discarded until God placed us back on the potter’s wheel, where the Master Potter turned us into a beautiful masterpiece.
The word which came to Jeremiah from the Lord, saying: “Arise and go down to the potter’s house, and there I will cause you to hear My words.” Then I went down to the potter’s house, and there he was, making something at the wheel. And the vessel that he made of clay was marred in the hand of the potter; so he made it again into another vessel, as it seemed good to the potter to make. Jeremiah 18:1-4
God takes us just as we are, flaws and all, imperfections too many to list, and applies His special touch to our lives. The result is something far more beautiful and valuable than what He started with.
I hope you will remember this the next time the enemy tries to convince you that you are too broken, too damaged, too marred to be of any value.
In the hands of the Master, your beauty is only beginning to shine through.
Have a blessed day,