Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Working {for the Lord}

Colossians 3:23-24
“Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters, since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward. It is the Lord Christ you are serving.”

As someone who has dedicated a good portion of her free time serving various ministries in various churches I have struggled to truly “unpack” a Sunday morning message from Pastor Sam at Mission Hills Church. Let it be known… it’s taken me about a year to unpack this one (in fact, just over a year). And it has been life-changing…

Here’s a synopsis of what Pastor Sam shared:

  • In Colossians 3 the Apostle Paul confronts a common belief, and yet it is a muth. This false belief has run over into the church environment. The common myth about serving God: “The church is my primary place of service to God.”
  • He goes on to urge that churches have “tended to communicate (consciously or not) that the best place for church members to exercise one’s God-given abilities is within the institution of the church (within the four walls of the building). Often it is communicated that getting involved/plugged into the church means that to some varying degree you must take on an additional part-time job in service to the church. This belief that “you are only serving God when you are serving the church” is a tragic mentality. This mentality leads to burn out, to individual despair; to stress in the family… the tragic list goes on. When in all reality we spend more time outside of church than we do within those “four walls”.

It’s simply not true that we only serve the Lord within the four walls of the church building… only one day a week. Every minute of every day God uses the skills He has built into us to serve His kingdom. This goes for at home, at work, in line at the grocery store, on Facebook, etc… when we work for the Lord we are working for Him in every minute of our lives. And He has given us the strengths and abilities to do just that.

But before I go on, please allow me to digress for a minute and share this: I recently learned a bit more about myself. (Confession: I think, deep down inside, I already knew this). I was given the opportunity to take a strength deployment inventory. I’m not sure if I can do much justice in an explanation of what it is, but I’ll give it a go. By answering questions of how I would respond in certain circumstances, and in certain environments, the results show me what motivates me to respond (and how I respond). This test revealed for me what I think I already knew. However it gave credence to what I was feeling and thinking. The results helped to ground me a bit more and guess less about what drives me.

I have often felt an internal struggle about whether or not I should 1) be more focused on administration/detail-oriented projects (an obvious strength of mine), or 2) to analyze details and work solo to solve problems (which I love, love, love), or 3) to work more closely on a team and truly connect with others. So, what did this inventory confirm for me? That the aforementioned struggle is just that… a struggle. But it showed me that it is also natural… due to my motivations. My motivations show that I’m able to move in and out of each of those areas, as the need is evident.

So, let me get this straight {I’m not really confused}: I’m just able to be flexible?!

Aaannnd… we’re back to the topic that brought us here in the first place.

As Pastor Sam unpacked the message from Colossians 3 (verses 23 and 24) I put my pen down and just listened… and thought. And the following realizations flooded my mind…
- I know this: God created me for His glory
- When God created me He gave me specific strengths (and unfortunately some non-strengths too)
- He has gifted me … ME!
- God is entrusting me with something that only I can do for His glory
- What am I waiting for?!
- Have I REALLY never thought of it this way before?!
- I’m 30-something years old and JUST NOW realizing this?!

And if all of that wasn’t enough, Pastor Sam shared the following quote from an author I had yet to read: “The place where God called you to is the place where your deep gladness and the world’s deep hunger meets.” Frederick Beuchner

What does this indicate to me? That what I LOVE doing is what God created me to do. I love solving problems. I love analyzing things, putting puzzles together (literal and figurative) and the critical thinking part of life. Question: What makes me happy? Answer: Making a difference by utilizing the skills given me.

And to drive it all home Pastor Sam urged us into more contemplation with these tidbits:

“If the church teaches us anything… it should be to see all of our lives as lived under the watchful and caring eye of the Lord Jesus. And that to live out of our new identity is His goal for us – in every place that we go (every sphere of our life: homes, work, etc). There is no corner of creation that is not under Christ’s supervision. And there is no station in life that He has not blessed and redeemed as a place of meaningful service to Him. If you are not prepared to serve Christ in your homes and workplaces you are not prepared to serve Him here at church.” – Sam Paschall

“Our families are to reflect the life of God himself. We want to work as if we’re serving the Lord himself. He wants to remind us how to work. Work heartily. And lastly, He wants to remind us what it is we are working for.” – Sam Paschall

Come to think of it… you should just go listen to the message (that is, if you're into that sort of thing). It’s on our church website. Under Sermon Audio, search for Sam Paschall or the name of the message “The New Self at Home and Work”. You might learn something completely different from it than I did. And if you did, I’d love to hear what that is.

Note to Pastor Sam … I love your teaching style. You’re philosophical and yet goofy. You’re deep and yet easily easy-going. And I believe God has gifted you in a way that is going to bless so many lives in your day-to-day ministry… not just in your “job”. Thank you for your service to our church, the students you minister to daily and in the way you love your family. You’re pretty cool.

Lastly, thank you for introducing me to Frederick Buechner. I’ve now read 3 of his books, with 2 or 3 more to go…

life is good...

No comments:


All images are © Lori Tisdale, 1990-2011 unless otherwise noted. Images are posted for your personal inspiration only and may not be copied/pasted into emails to share with anyone else, posted on other sites, copied for publications, contest submissions, or monetary gain. I'd have to track you down and who knows what would happen then?! Thank you for being considerate.