“Take this job and shove it, I ain’t workin’ here no more,” are the familiar words of a song by Johnny Paycheck. That song resonated with people who don’t even like country music because for many people it gave them the ability to say what they really want to say about their job – while just singing a song. Work is at best a necessary evil to those who sing this song so enthusiastically. Often, people with this outlook either stay in one job, and are miserable all their lives, or they move from job to job searching for just the right job – each one provoking the song. What people fail to realize is that even more important than getting the right job is being the right kind of person.
All of our relationships are enhanced when we have the right attitude. There’s an old saying about a man sitting on his porch in a small town. A young couple drives up and asks, “We may be moving here. What are the people of the town like?” The man replies with a question, “What were they like where you’re coming from?” “Oh, they were great, we hated to leave because we lived around such great people.” The man smiled and said, “You’ll find our town is just like that.” Then, another couple came by and asked the same question and got the same reply. Their response was different, though, “We couldn’t wait to get out of that place. People were cold-hearted and mean. We couldn’t find anyone to be friends with.” To this the man sighed and said, “I’m afraid that you’ll find that our town is just like that.” So it is with our work. 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.” (Colossians 3:23-24)
This passage in Colossians is a difficult passage for us to grapple with today. It appears to subjugate women and encourage slavery. What it really does it speak to each of these groups by focusing on their biggest weaknesses and calls for change. Women had trouble submitting to their husbands back then, just as today. Men had trouble showing love to their wives, just as today. Kids didn’t obey, fathers caused problems, just as today. Slavery, much different than existed in America, existed and was part of the social pattern. Paul’s words were not meant to encourage slavery so much as to encourage slaves. When writing to a slave owner in another letter Paul encourages Philemon to free his slave. The key to a successful Christian life is that contentment in your current position with God and a commitment to do all that you do as unto the Lord. Does that discount ambition? No, of course not. But if you have ambition without contentment you may win the “rat race” because you’re the biggest rat – and you still won’t be content. Can you be content in doing all that you do unto the Lord? For a Christian, that is success. Promotions and cultural victories are only the icing on the cake.
It’s so easy to make life complicated. We develop intricate plans to find a way to succeed. We seek to outdo everyone else and see life as a competition. We have to beat the other guy no matter what. (I’ll admit it; I take satisfaction in crossing the street faster than the guy in the other lane when the light changes.) Perhaps the key to life isn’t in chasing success, whatever that may be; perhaps it lies in focusing on our relationship with Jesus Christ.
Lord God, how often I strive to be better than the next guy; to gain success at any cost. Forgive me when I fail to do all that I do as though I were working for You. Remind me of Your mercy and grace as I go through the day. Help me seek to lift others up and encourage them rather than to compete with them.