… does what we do in life, completely define who we are??
Did you ever notice that in a typical conversation, if someone is asked where they work, their answer usually begins with the words, “I am a …” (I am a doctor, I am a nurse, I am a technician, an engineer, an accountant…)
This is something I have been thinking on lately. How much significance is placed on what we do for a job? There is nothing wrong in these answers themselves; it is just that the concept or idea behind it is faulty. It is the very same reason that, for the most part, no one rushes to say; “I work at Burger King”, “I work at Wendys”, “I bag groceries”, or even “I clean houses.”
Our culture often confuses what we do for work with who we are – and defines us by it. We let ourselves be defined this way without realizing it. Wouldn’t most people rather say they were a doctor or a lawyer, rather than announce that they washed windows? Isn’t the one somehow considered lower than the other? Everything has a place … we all need each other. For some, a whole way of life would change if there was no one to pick up their garbage, work at the Laundromat, do construction work, etc. However, these lines of work often go unappreciated.
How many of us would jump at the chance to proclaim that we are a servant? How about, “I am a servant of the Lord Jesus Christ”? I am not saying this is an appropriate answer when someone asks me what I do for work, or one that I give out to people. Ironically, it is the only answer we should feel completely honored to give. It is the only time that our occupation can, should, and does define who we are.
Being a servant has always been looked on as a lowly task. Sometimes throughout history, servants were viewed as a different, lower class entirely. The more we read through the Bible, the more we see that God honors the lowly ones. Those he holds up as heroes, are those who spent most of their time in life backstage.
Who typically takes the time to read all the credits after a good movie? Don’t people normally glance at the front cover to see who the main actors/actresses are? The great thing is that in Christ, there are no “extras”! What would the movie be if not for all those long lists of people who poured hours of hard work into making it what it is – the finished complete project. Those who act, play only a part of all that goes into the production. Yet somehow, they are more appreciated in the sense that they are talked about more, and generally praised more. There would be no elegant places to eat out, if not for the people behind the kitchen doors who are cooking, washing dishes, and chopping food. Yet no one wants to see the mess.
In the body of Christ, I believe we are all gifted differently. There is a purpose and place for those at the “top” so to speak, out in front of the crowd, the ones receiving attention, and even admiration; but we need not view them as more, or greater. My dad likes to say that Christ is the great equalizer ? In Him, if we’re looking at things correctly, we should view all types of work (or service) as equally important functioning parts of one body with one purpose. That purpose is to serve and glorify God, not bring attention or honor to ourselves. Remembering that alone, can help us all to keep our focus.
A special friend of ours recently volunteered on MercyShips. In talking about her whole experience, we were noting how there is so much you can do to help. Those who volunteer full-time to wash dishes or prepare meals, play just as important a part as any other task that must be done. This is just one example and this is true of all of life. God is often more pleased by those doing “behind-the- scenes” work. Those He holds up as heroes were humble servants, even if they held positions that received the attention of many, or even positions of honor, like Joseph or King David. (For example, Paul described himself as a servant: “Paul, a servant of Christ Jesus”……..Romans 1:1)
The word “servant” is applied liberally to describe Christians throughout the New Testament. In the Old and New Testaments alike, we see this as a theme. Think of the high praise Moses received from God Himself: “…more humble than anyone else on the face of the earth” Numbers 12:3
God cares much more about our character, than the type of work we do!! Most of us know this, but it is so easy to let the importance of it somehow slip by. Do any of us really think God would be impressed by how important we are to others? Probably not, but it’s easy to lose sight of the things that really matter as we go about our daily routine, whatever that is.
Are we loving? Are we truthful? Honest? Courageous enough to speak the truth in love to our friends and the people in our lives that God sends our way? Caring enough to give of our time to others?? (1 Cor. 13; 2 Cor. 3:4) Sacrificing enough to lay down our lives for each other?
Let me go back to the beginning of this article … what if you had a job that most people wouldn’t envy, and had to answer the question with a sentence beginning “I am a …” If your personal sense of value comes only from your work, no wonder that voicing the words “I am a garbage man”, would make someone feel less than accomplished.
How amazing that, in Christ, no matter what it is we must do for work on a daily basis, we can feel full of purpose as we say to ourselves: “I am a servant of Jesus Christ, spending some time doing …” whatever it is that we do, in a way that brings glory and honor to His Name! It’s hard to get our mind around the thought that He can use us!! Then, Proverbs 31 makes complete sense. Feeding others, washing dishes, cleaning messes, making/buying clothing, keeping up with laundry, and doing whatever we can to help others, is just as important as doing what we can to earn a little money to help our family and others. There is more to be done, but do not despise “small” tasks. Do not forget how important it is in God’s eyes, that you do them well. Do not forget how they can bless others.
Whatever your line of work, whatever your answer, remind yourself inwardly that you are a servant of the King of the whole earth and that holding that title is an amazing privilege and honor that He had to sacrifice His life for! Next time you spend the day cleaning, or even do a few dishes to help someone out, remember you are doing it for Him in His Name. It will fill you with a sense of worth like nothing else ever can!
“Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus: Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be grasped, but made himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself and became obedient to death, even death on the cross! Therefore God exalted him to the highest place and gave him the name that is above every other name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of the Father.” Philippians 2:5-11 (The passage immediately following is about shining “like stars in the universe”!)