In the 1999 comedy-drama film, The Big Kahuna, three salesmen are presented in a hotel hospitality suite at an industrial tradeshow. The name of the film is based on the name that these three character use to refer to Dick Fuller, a wealthy businessman they plan to deliver their sales pitch to. The first character is Larry, played by Kevin Spacey, a forthright, sharp-tongued veteran, who lives his life just to sell industrial lubricants. The second character is Phil played by Danny DeVito, another veteran, whose personal problems have caused him to become depressed, shabby and threadbare. Finally, there is Bob played by Peter Facinelli, a devout and zealous Baptist, who is a young lab technician and new to the world of salesmanship. Thus, the trio sits down and spends the evening analyzing their sales pitch to land this very important account that could instantly solve the problems of their company. Perhaps many of us our devout when it comes to our religion, but this response will be based on the importance of balancing religion when it comes to career and vocation, especially in the workplace.
The reception of the trade show is the key event in the film where the Larry and Phil expect to meet Dick Fuller, but the reception seems to be an absolute failure because neither of them actually meet important prospective client. However, after the reception the two are surprised that Bob spent a long time speaking with the Dick Fuller, clueless that he is the Big Kahuna really was, and are further shocked to learn that Bob spoke only from an evangelistic point of view. Of course, this irritates Larry and Phil, and they send Bob to speak to Fuller again, specifically instructing him to deliver their sale pitch and make a sale. Although Bob is assigned a task, yet again he completely disregards it just as he disregarded the importance of reception. Bob spends the whole pleasant, prolonged conversation evangelizing and talking about religion to the potential client instead of making a sales pitch about industrial lubricants, believing that the sincerity of his witness would be compromised this way.
Many Christians may support Bob’s behavior as proof of a firm commitment to Christ’s Great Commission. They may argue that spreading the teachings of the Gospel displaces any other earthly responsibilities. They may argue that regardless of what our boss tells us to do, we should be obey God instead of men and regardless of where we are, we should be missionaries for Christ. However, the truth is that Christians who believe that it is alright to depart from tasks assigned by their employers in order to evangelize and serve God may as well be failing to obey the explicit commands of God. According to the Eight Commandment, a person is prohibited from stealing. Thus, if a person is being paid by an employer to carry out a particular task, and that person does whatever he wishes instead of carrying out that task, then it would not be wrong to say that the employee has stolen from the employer.
People are contracted to their employer and they promise to do whatever their employer directs them to do, and giving up their discretion over the use of their time, no matter how nobly the use their time, is certainly not ethical or right. Therefore, in the The Big Kahuna, Bob was nothing but a hypocrite, a promise-breaker and a thief. He promised Larry and Phil that he would deliver their sale pitch to Fuller, so he should have directed the conversation he had with the potential client toward producing a sale rather than evangelizing. We should be aware of the fact that God will never place us in a situation where we do not have the right choice to make. God will never want to do something that He has commanded if it means committing a sin. In the same way, God may have commanded people to devote their time to evangelism and spreading his word, but He would never want us to steal from our employer and not perform our assigned tasks to do so.
This does not mean that productive employment and evangelism cannot be compatible together. It must just be recognized that God may have called us to spread His word, but that does not mean that we should spend every waking hour of our life to do this. We can still enjoy God’s assent by making use of our time for other productive tasks, such as doing what is part of our career, occupation or vocation. In fact, we actually disobey God if we do carry out and disregard the responsibilities and tasks of our occupations. Even in the past, the Protestant Reformation helped people understand the significance of career and vocation. It helped them understand that God is pleased by all forms of work, as long as man does them well and to His glory. God is satisfied even with the lowest forms of work, as long as people do their work well. However, this still does not mean that evangelism may not take place in the workplace.
We all of have our calling from God, however, fulfilling that calling does not mean that we should disregard the requirements of our occupation. However, even during work, ‘down times’ are quite natural, which these provide us the opportunity to have evangelical discussions without compromising productivity. However, by evangelizing during work hours, they are compromising productivity and robbing their employer. Some may argue spending time for spiritual gain outweighs spending time for materialistic gain, however, earning money is equally important to survive in this world and therefore, work hours should be spent for the work we are being paid for, rather than doing something else, no matter how noble it might. Thus, in conclusion, in the film The Big Kahuna, Bob was supposed to deliver a sales pitch to the prospective client and make a sale. The first time he failed do so because of ignorance and unawareness that he had actually spoken to the potential client, and he ended up evangelizing instead. However, the second time when he was sent specifically to perform an assigned task, he should have done what he was instructed to do, which was a part of his job.
Swanbeck, J. (Director) (1999). The big kahuna [DVD].