Step One of this lesson also on video!
OPENING ACTIVITY: What Is an Idol?
Ask students to consider what an idol is and what thoughts, words, or pictures come to mind when they think about one. Summarize their responses on a board or sheet of newsprint. An idol is sometimes pictured as an image or representation of a god that is an object of worship. It can also be a person or thing that is greatly admired, loved, or revered as well as something (other than God) that people put their faith in or devote an exorbitant amount of time to.
This week we look at God’s call to worship Him instead of any idols we may be serving.
OPENING STORY: [Read the story aloud or make copies and pass them around]
PUTTING PEOPLE AHEAD OF PROFITS
During this time of the year, it’s easy to get caught up in the commercialization of the holidays and to let shopping, decorating, and social events consume much of our time. And there is no doubt that for some, the “bottom-line” is important. Companies do have dividends to pay and shareholders to please. Profits do matter, and so does what ends up in, or comes out of, our bank accounts. The problem is, these can become the primary focus of our time and energy—our “idols.” That’s why it’s a breath of fresh air to hear about individuals or companies that seem to be focused more on people than on profits.
One of those companies is Advanced Micro Devices (AMD). One writer noted that “when a company has a deep-rooted culture to put people first, profits follow.” This seems to be an apt description of AMD which noted in a recent corporate statement its continued commitment “to enable a better world by being an employer of choice.” AMD says it is “working to strengthen its communities and make an impact on the planet through its motivated, innovative, and fully engaged workforce.”
One way that AMD does this is through increased focus on training and timely reporting of injury and illness. It has established what it considers to be “best-in-class health and safety goals for a wafer foundry.” Its goal in this respect is to “outperform the industry average across various safety parameters.” The company’s efforts in this area have resulted in a significantly lower rate of injury and illness in its workforce compared to the average for the industry as a whole.
AMD believes in investing in its existing talent. In addition to providing employees with competitive compensation, the company offers a variety of employee assistance programs and provides an array of training opportunities so employees can progress in their careers. It claims to have a work culture “where employees feel safe to voice dissenting opinions, challenge the status quo, and take calculated risks.” It believes in diversity and that innovation and creativity increase “when diverse teams operate in a culture of inclusion.”
Dr. Lisa Su, President and CEO of AMD, in a letter to shareholders wrote, “Our employees are highly engaged and proud to work at AMD, with a strong belief in our products and mission and an understanding that each person has an important role in our success … Each year, thousands of AMDers roll up their sleeves to make a difference where we live and work.”
In contrast to AMD are individuals or companies that put profits ahead of people. For example, some medical professionals complain that they often feel pressured to make choices about patient care based on the effects those choices have on the bottom-line of the groups they are affiliated with. Contributing to this is the increasing consolidation of medical practices under corporate umbrellas headed by businessmen whose primary focus may be increasing profits and what contributes most to this. This sometimes results in doctors and other medical personnel pushing practices and products that are more profitable.
Now have your students form small groups to discuss their answers to these questions.
- What things do individuals or companies pursue that can be considered idols? Is putting profits ahead of people one of these? What other examples can you think of?
- What aspects of the holiday season can become idols if we’re not careful?
- What should characterize someone who has made a commitment to serve and worship God alone?