Through my life I’ve enjoyed something about every career I ever had. I loved things about working at the church, helping the auctioneers, delivering for FedEx, helping people with financial question and working at Starbucks (free pound of coffee each week). Each work focus opened my eyes to the needs of people around me in a unique way.
I discovered that people are people; they may have higher or lower standards of living but they all are searching for happiness. They work hard to get money to go home to not work. If they have kids, their kids take all their spare time and energy. They’re decent, hard-working people who deeply love others, are willing to sacrifice for the needs of co-workers and willing to go the extra mile.
As a follower of Jesus, it was important to me to bring Jesus with me into every work situation. Notice, I didn’t bring church or tradition or religion or moralism. It was always my goal to live in a way that people would notice Jesus in me as I listened to their problems, helped with their tasks or supported their success.
But, I wonder, “What if Jesus were to have done my job?” Would it have been different? He probably wouldn’t have gotten lost in his FedEx truck. He probably would have helped more clients. He probably would have not felt as irritated as I did when I struggled to hit my numbers or make calls or interact with coworkers without being critical or miss my deadline and scan packages a little early to save service.
If Jesus had YOUR career, would he do it as well as you? You have special skill. You have experience. You might do it better than Jesus (Is it ok to say this?) but I can see where Jesus may have done it with a slightly better attitude. Sometimes a good attitude was hard to find. My attitude wasn’t always good when I was tired or empty or felt like a failure too many days in a row. Sometimes I couldn’t see the good in others or assumed they were against me. Sometimes I was really critical of others. It wasn’t always pretty.
If Jesus had your career, some of the same things that frustrate you would probably frustrate him. Now, his responses might be a little different when he gets frustrated than when you do. He might not get all self-righteous or vindictive but I’m sure the flaws in the system would challenge him too.
It strikes me that the principle difference may revolve around clarity of purpose. It seemed that Jesus was driven by a cause with eternal consequence. Because Jesus knew his work was related to a higher purpose, he pressed on, pushed through and learned from every challenging encounter. Because Jesus worked for something more than money, fame or reputation he loved in ways that caused people to take notice. It wasn’t just what Jesus did, it was why he did it. I continue to be impressed with how Jesus changes the conversation from outside to inside, from stuff to soul satisfaction.
What drives you these days? If Jesus did your job tomorrow, with a better attitude or more gracious spirit, would he get the promotion you’ve been wanting?
8-2-16 Addendum: Reflecting on this in the shower, where I seem to think most clearly, I’m not sure Jesus cares about the job we have as much as the reason we have the job in the first place. If we have a good attitude, it’s certainly positive, but it’s not the same as understanding our mission as followers of Jesus. Our jobs seem to be more of a platform for engaging people who need to physically encounter Jesus in people who have been impacted by his grace and forgiveness. God provided the job to care for our need and to extend His Kingdom more than to pad our retirement and invest stuff that’s going to break in time.
All of God’s blessings are to be enjoyed, and will become even more enjoyable, when we are captivated by the eternal as much as temporary. That’s why work is worship. We honor God when we work honorably, helping people, treating them fairly and honestly. Transactions are good. Profits are good. Selfishness isn’t so good. If you added a Kingdom perspective to your work-a-day world, how would people notice Jesus in you?