During the past three weeks in Kansas City, we’ve met a lot of new people. Especially those in our church family at Hickman Mills. As you to get to know people, and build relationships, one of the first questions often asked is “Where do you work?” Sometimes we simply ask, “What do you do?” And it is understood that you asking about their job, profession or business.
We are interested in what people do for a living. Occupations tell us a lot about a person. Their background. Education. Experiences. Whether intended or not, the answer often indicates one’s social-economic standing.
Vocations are important to our functioning as a society. The dreams and aspirations to work in a specific profession benefit the greater community. We need policemen. Fireman. Business owners. Bankers, Doctors. Mail carriers. Sanitation workers. Computer geeks. And, I guess, even lawyers! The list is endless.
Using the metaphor work, the Christian life is spoken of as a profession. In Ephesians 4:1 the King James Version translates Paul’s exhortation, ““I therefore, the prisoner of the Lord, beseech you that ye walk worthy of the vocation wherewith ye are called,” Newer versions render the Greek word “vocation” as “calling.” We have a greater vocation. A more important work. A higher calling.
Colly Caldwell in his excellent commentary on Ephesians wrote regarding this word, “It is our job of being a Christian. It includes the benefits and responsibilities pertaining to salvation. It involves what we do in our own lives and what we teach others to do. This “vocation” is the full-time occupation of the child of God. It is our work in life. It is what we do.”
Many people, and especially men, often relate their self-worth to their job. Because they devote so much time, effort and energy to their work it often defines who they are as a person. The Christian, however, should not be so tied to his job that it defines their personhood. Our identity should be found in Christ. Because our Christian vocation is really what we do full time—whether we are at work, at home, or enjoying some leisure activity. It is our “calling.”
Since our “calling” is heavenly, the mode and manner of our work is directed by God. He is our Master. It is His divine decree that we should be holy and humble, gentle and kind. We should be separate and set apart from carnally driven people. Our attitudes and actions should reflect the spirit of Christ.
Howard Hendricks tells a great story when he was on an American Airline flight during a very long delay. A man who probably had too much to drink was being rude to the other passengers. Demanding with the flight attendants. And in a word just plain obnoxious! Hendricks watched this flight attendant treat this unpleasant man with class, dignity and professionalism. She was unruffled. When he was rude, she was polite. When he was uncaring, she was kind. Howard was so impressed that he walked back to the plane to commend the flight attendant. He told her what a good job she did. How impressed he was. And that he was going to write a letter of recommendation to American Airlines.
In response she said, “Thank you sir, but I don’t work for American Airlines.” Hendricks was briefly baffled until she added, “I work for Jesus Christ.”
So today, tomorrow, and next week, remember who you work for. Regardless of the nature of your work. Or the value others place on it. Or the amount of money you make. As you interact with fellow employees, customers, or management, don’t forget you are a Christian. You have a higher calling! A greater responsibility. And a better boss!
–Ken Weliever, The Preacherman