Howard Hendricks tells a great story when he was on an American Airline flight after a very long delay. A man who 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 commendation 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.”
Our word of the week is Labor.
Today, in the United States, we celebrate Labor Day. Ironically, it’s a holiday and many are off work! It was first purposed by Peter J. McGuire to honor America’s work force. The first Labor Day celebration was on September 5, 1882, in New York City. Today there will be speeches. Parades. Flags will fly. And folks will bar-b-que.
Take a moment today and ask yourself, “Who do I work for?” What if everyone worked Jesus Christ?
The Bible provides practical principles to help us in regard to labor in today’s marketplace. In Col 3:22-24, Paul penned:
“Slaves, in all things obey those who are your masters on earth, not with external service, as those who merely please men, but with sincerity of heart, fearing the Lord. Whatever you do, do your work heartily, as for the Lord rather than for men, knowing that from the Lord you will receive the reward of the inheritance. It is the Lord Christ whom you serve.”
While this was written to slaves, the principles apply to Christians in the employee-employer relationship. Here are 4 simple guidelines to apply in your job or profession.
(1) Labor Obediently. Obey your master. That means your boss or supervisor. Paul says in everything. And not just when he is watching. Or just to win his favor. But we do it because it is the right thing to do.
(2) Labor sincerely. This word means with singleness, simplicity, and mental honesty. It is the virtue of one who is free from pretense and hypocrisy. And it makes no difference what kind of work you do. Give it your best. My Dad used to say, “Give a full day’s work for an honest day’s pay. That’s working sincerely!
(3) Labor cheerfully. The word heartily means to “work from the soul.” It means with gusto or enthusiasm. From the very seat of your feelings and emotions, God wants us to work. The Christian worker is not to be sullen. Instead we are to be happy and cheerful. Enthusiastic and excited.
(4) Serve Christ in your labor. For Christians work takes on a new meaning. You are not just serving an earthly employer, but a heavenly Master. Your work has deeper purpose, greater potential and higher motives. The way you work, the values you live by, and the attitudes you display honors God. Like the American Airlines flight attendant.
Your work has value. Dignity. Worth. From the teacher to the janitor. From bank president to the teller. From the CEO to factory worker. God wants us to work. And work in a way that glorifies Him.
Have a great Labor Day! And thank God for the blessing of work!
–Ken Weliever, The Preacherman