Who's the boss...?
When I was a teenager and up until I graduated from University, I worked a succession of seasonal jobs to finance my studies. I worked as a laborer on a construction site. I shoveled cubed steak into a hopper at a meat-packing plant (seriously!) I was an inventory clerk for the local power company. I ran the tea, coffee and assorted pastries bar on a car ferry plying the waters of the Firth of Clyde. And especially at Christmas and New Year I was a mailman.
Now, whilst you may think that “Neither snow nor rain nor heat nor gloom of night stays these couriers from the swift completion of their appointed rounds…”, is the motto of mail carriers around the world, you might be surprised to learn that those words were written by Herodotus in 500 B.C. and refer to mounted postal couriers in the Persian wars! If you are old enough to remember the monthly Readers’ Digest magazine you will know why my left shoulder still aches at the very mention of them!
None of these jobs were even remotely related to what I saw as my vocation (Physics and Math), but they were what was available until I had completed my education. I had some pleasant supervisors and some awful bosses, but in each job I tried to follow the ethic my parents underlined at every opportunity — always do your best and give 110%. Sometimes this got me in trouble when I could see an opportunity to improve or streamline some process or procedure and my coworkers felt that they preferred the way it had always been done. I quickly learned that diplomacy is the art of letting someone have your own way!
I was fortunate that I did not suffer discrimination - even though my accent would never place me in a privileged class - however I did witness much covert sectarian oppression which was baked into our society.
As my faith and scriptural studies began to grow I finally ran across words written by Paul to believers in the church at Colossae:
“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 NIV
The Colossians knew firsthand what it meant to be discriminated against because of their faith. They were banned from any position of power or authority. They were not allowed to have assemblies or associate with each other and had to worship secretly, often in fear of their lives. And yet they confounded their employers with their excellent output and in-built joy.
I came to realize that the “menial” jobs I was delighted to graduate “from”, were in no way as distasteful as the everyday situation of those early christians in Colossae. I saw that my parents’ work ethic was lifted directly from scripture, but with an important twist: while I thought I was working for me, Paul said I should be working for the Lord!
That makes a huge difference. Now I know that the boss not only likes me, he loves me and he has a huge reward prepared for me. He knows I may not like what I am doing, but out of love and respect for him he asks that I do my best and give it 110%
When we believe we are not being served well in secular terms, we often seek remedies by asking to speak to “the boss”. Your mileage may vary on how that plays out, but if I believe Paul’s words (and I do), I am working directly for “the BOSS!” And it is He whom I need to satisfy regardless of the human chain of command.
Jesus, the BOSS, has given us these instructions: “In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.” Matthew 5:16 NIV
So let’s get back to work!
Blessings on you and yours, Jim Black