Charlie Johnson was my boss and occasionally he would call me to come to his office. But I was in Columbia, Missouri, and Charlie’s office was thirty miles away. Still, when he called, I stopped what I was doing and drove those miles—with great peace of mind.
Don’t misunderstand me. I was not a perfect employee and sometimes the boss had to help me get on the right path again. Moreover, Charley rarely told me why he wanted to come to his office. Yet I was at peace because I knew Charlie liked me (after all, he had hired me) and I knew I had been doing what he wanted me to do.
Those experiences have stuck in my mind because inner peace seems to be a rare commodity today. Most likely it has always been rare. After all Paul counseled the Philippians to petition God for what they needed. If they did so they could experience the peace of God which surpasses all understanding (Phil. 4:7). But today we are facing some unusual stresses. So I want to explain how what I learned working with my boss has translated into “spiritual labor relations,” things to bear in mind as you and I serve the Lord.
The first point to take to heart is to realize the boss likes us. Yes, I know, I should phrase it in the more common way, “God loves us.” But you see in our relationships with other folks we recognize a distinction between love and like. I dare say, some of you can easily and truthfully say God loves you, but you still wonder “Does He like me?” Or does God simply put up you?
What difference does it make which word we use? Simply, we cannot have peace with God unless we are convinced He looks on us with favor, that He like us. Even when we stumble and wander around, God likes us. You may wonder why. You may think God got “the short end of the stick” when He saved you. But, God likes you and until you and I recognize that we will not have peace with God.
The second point in this little guide on spiritual labor relations has to do with doing our job. All of us have a job. In the place we live, in the time we live, in the circumstances we live, we have a job. If we think in broad, general terms we might decide all of us have the same job—serve, give, pray, worship, witness, reveal God’s love, etc. But if we look more closely at our unique, individual privileges, gifts, responsibilities, and the Holy Spirit’s leading we may see how our own job is a little different from that of others.
Scientists tell us that each human being is unique, different from anyone else. Is it difficult to expect, then, that God “fine tunes” us? So what sort of job or task or calling has He given you. Whatever the task, that is what God wants you to do. Don’t bother looking at your fellow believers thinking their calling is better, more important, easier. You and I need to do what God has called us to do in these days.
The story is told of a visitor to a monastery watching a monk diligently hoeing the weeds in the monastery garden. The visitor asked the worker, “If you knew Jesus was coming again today, what would you do?” The monk answered, “I would finish hoeing the garden.”
The monk had vowed to obey those in authority over him and they had given him a job to do. The job was probably tedious and not very glamorous, but it was necessary. More important, it was the monk’s job to do. Doing it well would not bring glory to the worker. Probably no one would praise this worker’s great knowledge or skill. Others might even look down on him. But his work was his to do. And his hoeing would support the work of the whole monastery, all its prayer, teaching, caring. Do you think this monk had peace of mind—and heart?
Peace of mind and heart is not some reward that God bestows on workers. Instead, it is the inner condition of those who have recognized the tasks that God, the One who loves and likes them, has given them and who are working at those jobs. What work has God given you to do? No work done in the name of God for His glory is menial or meaningless.
“We’ll work ‘till Jesus comes. We’ll work ‘till Jesus comes. We’ll work ‘till Jesus comes, and we’ll be gathered home.”
An old hymn chorus