“Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord and not for men.”
It’s a good verse to begin the school year with, right? I used it just last week in my obligatory don’t-take-the-easy-road speech to my kids. But as the words left my mouth, I was suddenly reminded of something old and very unexpected.
My first real job after college was as the Marketing Assistant for a local arts company. Ironically, one task they handed me was getting our car raffle results compiled for the city audit -- I say ironic because no Theatre/English Lit major should have anything to do with the word “audit”. Still, I was naïve and eager to please so I plowed in. After two bleary-eyed weeks of tracking ticket stubs and accounting for each dollar, I finally got the numbers reconciled and bundled it all into a neat package. I have to believe that’s what reaching the top of Everest feels like.
I can still remember bounding into my boss’s office and plopping my masterpiece on her desk, then waiting for the celebration to begin. I had imagined for days how she might express her awestruck-ness. That’s why, when she glanced up for exactly 1.7 seconds and mumbled: “Ok,” then went back to work ... I’ll admit, it took me a minute to process. That was not a scenario I had considered; mine all involved cheering and possibly some kind of gift card. I stared dumbfounded for a bit before I backed out, trying to hide that I was hurt and completely unfulfilled. That day, I learned some things about “real jobs”.
Last week, as I was presenting the annual work ethic lecture to my children, God hit me with that memory and I realized something. I’ve spent my entire life focusing on only half of this verse. I’ve spoken in chapels and on Sunday mornings about only half of the verse. “Working for the Lord and not for men” is about more than just HOW we work; it’s also about WHY we work. In that moment, I suddenly got it -- our Heavenly Father wants more from us than to give all we have; He wants us to give all we have and be totally content if no one else ever notices or cares.
That’s so much harder.
The great news is, I’ve learned something unthinkable since that revelation. Are you ready? There is a crazy freedom in performing only for my Heavenly Father. That’s right, freedom. As He promises, the things I tend to think are sacrifices are in reality the ones that set me free. When I spend all of my energy making sure I do the best for my Abba Father, it suddenly doesn’t matter if the world thinks I’m amazing or sees how difficult it was for a Shakespeare girl to balance those 1,317 raffle tickets. And I am completely ok with that.
So my challenge for all of us this year is to give each task everything we have, no matter how hard. The more arduous, the greater the power of Christ will show up in and through us. But let’s also remember WHO we’re doing it for and stop worrying so much about others thinking we’re awesome. If you’ve given your best and the grades or wins or sales or accolades you hoped for don’t come, know that you have pleased your Heavenly Father in ways only He can express. He is cheering wildly for you and I promise, it beats any celebration down here that you could imagine. Even the ones with great gift cards.
janita smith -- proud alum, prouder mom,
honored to work at the school I love
(For the record, I don’t do audits.)
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