How DO YOU SEE YOUR JOB? Weather you are a homemaker, a student, or a factory worker, the attitude you have about your work reveals a great deal about your faith. The Bible indicates that every Christian ought to feel a sense of vocation in his work. If you are miserable or bored in your work, or dread going to it, then God is speaking to you. He either wants to change the job you are in or-more likely-He wants to change you.
Remember the story about the blind man whom Jesus healed? When our Lord touched his eyes. He asked the man what he saw. He reported that he saw "men as trees walking." When he had received a second touch from the Master, he saw men clearly. I suspect that many of us need a "second touch" by Christ to see our jobs in their right perspective.
A friend in Illinois had joined a small group of seekers meeting for prayer and Bible study and the sharing of their faith each week. Although he had come a long way in his Christian commitment, each week he complained about the customers in his store-how unfair they were, how demanding, and how they took advantage of him. But one day this man received a "second touch" by God and began to see the people who came into his store, whether to buy a package of nails or a washing machine, as people sent by God. He anticipated each sale as an adventure in personal relationships. At Christmas time, with all the rush of increased sales, this man said to the group one night in ama7;ement (the translator messed up the last word ), ''You know, what surprises me is how the people in this town have changed. Last Christmas they were rude, pushy, and demanding, but this year I haven't had a difficult customer in my store! Everyone is understanding and trying his best to co-operate." They all laughed. They knew the change had not been in the town but in the storekeeper. But in a more profound way, perhaps the change was also in the town. As we see people through the eyes of faith, they actually do change. They respond to us almost directly in proportion to the amount of love we have for them as people.
Let me suggest five questions each of us should periodically ask ourselves about our job.
(1) Why am I here in this job? Do you feel you are in your present job because of an accident? Because you happened to answer an ad, or your brother-in-law got tired of having you sit around and found you a job? Because of ambition? These attitudes certainly undercut
any sense of Christian vocation. We should feel we are in our work because God has called us to it, in just as real a way as He has called any bishop, clergyman, or priest.
Several months ago a man asked me to call on him in his large office in New York City. He said, "A year ago I turned my life over to Jesus Christ. It happened in my church." He then described the change that had begun to happen in his home-new communication between him and his wife; deeper understanding of his teen-age daughter. There were many other evidences of his new commitment.
Then he said, "I find now, a year later, that I am still behind the same desk doing the same job in the same way, and I suspect something is wrong. If Christ has come in as Lord of my life, things ought to be very different in what I do eight or ten hours a day." He was right, of course. Now he is exploring, along with some other men, the opportunities and strategy for Christian ministry in daily work.
We must dispense with the myth that commitment to Christ means becoming a clergyman or that work done inside a church building or in a church organization is more holy, somehow, than work done in the market place. Christ came to give us a sense of calling in everyday work. This is where the world is changed, and where the Kingdom is built. Jesus Himself was a working man, and He called twelve working men to be His initial disciples. He could
have been born into a priestly family, but He was not. We must understand the really radical thing God has done in Jesus Christ, in wanting to build a new world and a new Kingdom primarily through committed working men.
(2) For whom am I working? Are you working for God, or for men? You cannot really serve both. When we are addicted to people's praise and thanks and rewards, we are in a real way under the tyranny of men and are working for them.
Often I feel terribly sorry for the wives and mothers in the world who work such long hours and never seem to be finished with their chores. If they are working for the appreciation and thanks of their families, they seldom or never get it. But when we work for God, we are free to serve others no matter how unreasonable or thankless they may be. Our reward is God Himself saying to us, "Well done, good and faithful servant." Daily chores take on new meaning when we work for God rather than men. One woman has this inscription Over her kitchen sink: "Divine services held here three times daily." What a marvelous freedom in washing greasy pots and pans, not for those who eat from them, but for a Lord who puts a woman into a home to serve a family for Him. We need continually to ask ourselves whether we are willing to risk our lobs and our financial security in obedience to Jesus Christ. When we really work for God, and know that it is He to whom we are responsible, and from whom we get our reward, we are then free to be His people in any given situation.
(3) What am I working for? Wages? Prestige? Or am I working to do the will of God? This has much to
say about our motives. .
Christ's own life gives us a key. When He found people abusing others in the temple, He came in and violently upset the status quo. But when people wished to destroy Him, He let them drive nails into His hands. Perhaps this is the kind of freedom Christian men and women need in their jobs; not to protect their own interests, but to look to the interests of others; to protest }When innocent people are being hurt, but not to protest for self-preservation. This freedom comes only when we can answer the question, "What am I working for?" with "To do the will of God."
Where is your security? Is it in the person who pays your salary or do you see him only as an agent whom God at this time has chosen to supply your needs? You cannot really love your boss or paymaster until you see
him as God's agent. If you see him as your provider, then you cannot be honest with him, and fear and resentment are bound to color your relationship.
I have a wonderful Chinese friend, Moses Chow. His father was one of two sons in a family in pre-communist China. He had become a Christian and was told by his father that if he persisted in following this "new god," he would be disinherited.
There was wealth in the family, but Moses' father could choose only where he had found life, and life abundant. So, in his determination to follow Jesus Christ, he was disinherited and left China. Moses Chow told us that his father went on to make a new home in a new country in the Far hast, and has' been quite successful as a Christian businessman. He left the security of the world and trusted God, who was able to provide. Meanwhile, Moses' grandfather and others fell victim to communism and lost everything. We don't follow God because He makes us secure, but our security is in God-even in economic matters.
( 4) With whom am I working? God wants us always
to be aware of the people next to us. It's not enough
just to work honestly and industriously, for Christ calls us to be a priesthood of believers who willingly take responsibility for those who are our neighbors.
A railroad engineer came to his minister and asked to be put to work as a new Christian. The minister told the engineer that there was no position in the church open at the present time, but that there was a job, and it involved the question, '1s your fireman a Christian?"
This is the concept of the priesthood of believers, when
we see that our primary job is not to be an elder, deacon, or vestryman in the church, but to be a priest to the man next to us in our daily work. This is where we need to recapture the marvelous vision God has for the priesthood of the laity.
God calls the laity to do a job the clergy cannot do in many instances. In a parish I once served, a close friend who was a doctor became quite ill. Though I visited him almost daily, I saw no improvement and no benefit from my visits. One day I went to see this Christian doctor and found him greatly improved and free from fear. t asked him what had happened, and he told me of a visit he had had a few hours before from one of the senior surgeons in the area who had prayed with him and given him a prescription. The prescription was to read Joshua 1 :9. My friend had been visibly touched by God, and not through a clergyman but through a brother physician.
(5) What kind of place am I in? Jesus Christ, by His very call to accept Him as Lord and Saviour, has brought us inside a revolutionary movement, so that the place We are in assumes tremendous importance.
No job is too menial to be of importance to a communist/ Shouldn't this same thing be true for any Christian trying to bui1d a worldwide Kingdom? Even a chambermaid making beds in a hotel can influence guests who go out and make decisions of worldwide importance. Christians should ask God to show them the nature of the place they are in. How important is the particular store, shop, industry, or service which is theirs? What could God do through that particular organization to change His world?
Recently I was speaking with a Congregational minister in New England. He told me of meeting with a group of high school students who wanted to know how: to live their faith more effectively. He asked them to think hypothetically what they would do in their school
if they were communists. They brainstormed for a time and came up with a number of things they could do to sabotage the school: cut classes, sow discord, obstruct education in all kinds of ways, from telling lies to smoking in the basement.
Suddenly, one of the boys said, "Wait a minute, isn't this just what we are doing now?" It was a wonderful eye-opener for these young people to begin to see their high school as a place where Christ could begin to change the world through them. Later on they began to discuss just what it meant to be Christ's people, building a Kingdom in their own school.
There is a revolution going on in the world. Jesus Christ Himself is the leader, and when we accept Him as our Lord, He calls us into it with Him. He needs us. He wants us to see our jobs with the eyes of faith and understanding as something far more than a means of earning a livelihood. Our jobs are places where, as revolutionaries, we help to accomplish His revolution in the hearts and lives of men everywhere.
From the book:
DARE To Live Now!
Zondervan Publishing House