Thursday, February 24, 2011

Worship-full Work

            In my lifetime I have had a number of different jobs. In High School I bagged groceries for Furr’s Supermarket. I made hamburgers and breakfast biscuits for McDonald’s. I helped take care of children at the YMCA’s summer day camp program. I also sold flavored popcorn and had a few gigs as a professional clown.
            In college I operated remote cameras for distance learning through KENW-TV. As an intern at KOB-TV I co-produced television morning news. I also worked as a janitor for the Wesley Foundation.
Since my college days I have sold cars for two different dealerships and radio advertising for KSEL. Later I became a disk jockey for the station (back in the days when local radio station still played vinyl records and had real DJ’s on site).
             I enlisted in the US Coast Guard and spent quite a bit of time as a boat crewman, groundskeeper and janitor, and eventually trained as a cook and finished my military career on board the USCGC Midgett.
            All of that was before I entered seminary and started working in Christian ministry. Aside from my pastoral job, I also raise money for CARC and have worked in hospice chaplaincy and taught college classes. And those are just the jobs that I have been paid to do.
            In my life I have volunteered to serve on boards, cook food, care for the elderly, provide law enforcement and hospital chaplaincy services, and worked with several different clubs, civic organizations, and charitable causes.
            As with any job—volunteer or paid—there are times that I really enjoy the work I am tasked to do. Likewise, there are times when I really do not like it much at all. Yet, regardless of how much I may or may not like a particular task at hand, there is one thought that stays in my mind.
      Colossians 3:17 reads, “And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.” This simple command from the apostle Paul comes at the end of a larger section of the letter that speaks to the way we conduct ourselves while living the Christian life.
      I raise the raise the issue of my diverse work history in the context of Colossians for one particularly important point. I have never had a bad job! Don’t get me wrong, I have had to do work that I don’t particularly enjoy at times. There have been times when I have not been happy with my job. But on the whole, I have never had a bad job.
      The key factor is one of attitude. I find that attitude through my Christian faith. Yet the attitude determines the outcome!
      Perhaps the most important factor, for me, is the realization that if I am doing something “in the name of the Lord Jesus,” it is a sacred act! I don’t care if I am preparing to preach a sermon or scrubbing greasy gunk out of a galley pan on the ship. It is sacred work if it is being done in God’s name. Then, suddenly, the value, purpose, direction, and meaning of the labor changes for the better!
      Truthfully, God needs all of the labors that make up our world. There is no job too mundane to be done in God’s name because the one performing the task is created in God’s image, called very good, and called to be a beacon of God’s light in the workplace.
      Think, for a moment, about how this makes profound differences in the workplace. The list is much longer than what I have here, but these are the top 10 reasons why working in God’s name makes a profound, positive, and meaningful difference in the workplace.

1.      God’s priority for equality, justice, fairness, and affirmation becomes a guiding principle of the workplace
2.      God is a part of what we are doing so we have access to God’s wisdom in the process.
3.      Since God truly deserves our very best, it is easier to give our best at all times.
4.      When the stupid stuff starts to get us down, we are less likely to lose sight of the higher purpose
5.      Our work is no longer a separate and secular endeavor that cuts us off from worshipping God. Rather, our work becomes yet another means to worship and glorify God.

So, today as we engage the daily chores of our life’s work—paid or unpaid—let us all honor God in the labors of our lives!

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