Mark 4:14-20 The farmer sows the word. Some people are like seed along the path, where the word is sown. As soon as they hear it, Satan comes and takes away the word that was sown in them. Others, like seed sown on rocky places, hear the word and at once receive it with joy. But since they have no root, they last only a short time. When trouble or persecution comes because of the word, they quickly fall away. Still others, like seed sown among thorns, hear the word; but the worries of this life, the deceitfulness of wealth and the desires for other things come in and choke the word, making it unfruitful. Others, like seed sown on good soil, hear the word, accept it, and produce a crop—thirty, sixty or even a hundred times what was sown.

Jesus categorized people by how they responded to God’s Word. Because of dark shadows in the recent past, many of us recoil at the thought of categorizing, grouping or labeling people at all. We think it is wrong to ‘‘judge’’ other people. It is true that we have no authority to sit in judgement over someone else, to ‘‘pronounce judgement’’ on them (ie., to condemn). However, if we have heard the verdict, proclaimed by God himself, we can and should announce his judgement. In another sense, we make formal or informal ‘‘judgements’’ of people all the time—"judgement" meaning to assess their abilities, to appraise their performance, to evaluate their accomplishments, to differentiate them from others, to review or measure what they have or haven’t done, to compare them with others or with ourselves, to rate or rank them with respect to a standard or with each other. This function of judgement will be a part of human society as long as there are differences in people. However if we make these judgements in order to exalt ourselves or our group over another, or in order to decrease the ‘‘value’’ of another person, we have used our God-given ability to differentiate for evil purposes.

Following Jesus’ example, we need not be afraid to identify the different types of people around us and to categorize them when this will help us to respond to them in ways that will meet their different needs. For example, in any work place one can find different ‘‘types’’ of people. Some employees are strictly interested in putting in their time, staying out of trouble, and receiving their paycheck. They are punctual and reliable and willing to do what they must do to keep their job—but they have few or no aspirations to move ahead, and they are not very concerned about the overall condition of the company for which they work. A wise manager wouldn’t give such a person increased responsibility or allow him to manage others no matter how much seniority he might have. In contrast to this non-ambitious type, some other people are overly ambitious. For them, their present position is merely a stepping stone on their path to where they think they really belong. They are also putting in their time, but the difference is that they can’t wait to move on. They are not easily convinced that they have a lot to learn in their present position or that they could benefit from listening to their present peers or supervisors. They are on the fast track, after all, and are merely pausing on this rung to catch their breath before continuing their ascent up the ladder. Such people usually try to look good in front of the ‘‘higher ups,’’ especially those that are several rungs higher on the ladder. They would also have little concern or loyalty for the company, and they would gladly ‘‘jump ship’’ as soon as it began to sink. Again, a wise manager would consider this type of employee to be a poor choice for advancement. Unfortunately, people like this are often perceived as being ‘‘high-achievers,’’ and are the first to be promoted. At some point it will be clearly seen that they are aggressive only in order to advance themselves, not the company.

Many employees simply want to do an excellent job on whatever assignment they are given. They feel obligated to do their level best to help the company to be successful. That’s what they are paid for, after all. Some of these people, however, though they may start out with high ideals, may be corrupted by the bad attitudes around them. They may turn cynical, critical and bitter. It is right for them to feel guilty, because they have consciously given up their ideals and forsaken the right way. They begin to doubt everyone else’s motivations and are eager to stir up controversy and find fault. They can even become like a deadly virus, and should be encouraged to leave before they infect others in turn. The fourth category of people, those who hold to their ideals and maintain an ‘‘all for one and one for all’’ attitude, will usually produce well beyond their own or anyone else’s expectations. Such people should form the heart and soul of the organization. A wise manager will promote them and help them to successfully accomplish

their responsibilities No matter what they are paid, they will always give much more back to the company. They might not have the greatest ability, but the value of their smile among frowns, their respect in the midst of scoffing, their offer of help to a peer in distress at the sacrifice of their own visible productivity, cannot be measured. Such a spirit is invaluable to the company. A good manager will recognize this.