This past Labor Day Sunday, we talked about work. We actually looked at an interesting section in one of Paul’s letters – 2 Thessalonians 3:6-13. In this passage, Paul rebukes people for not working. In fact, he encourages his readers to shun people who refuse to do their part. In our discussion of this we made the observation that it is essential that all of us contribute. It is essential practically because it’s a fairness issue – that makes it essential to community. It is also essential spiritually because we were designed by God to work. (See Genesis 2:15.)
After that lesson, I got an email from a friend in our fellowship. I’ve included some of it here because it’s worth reading. As you read, think about your own work history. What lessons have you learned?
Work has been an important component to my spiritual life. From the beginning of my Christian life, my work story has been unusual.
On paper, I didn’t stand a chance at getting the job I have: no education and no connection. And at the beginning I didn't show any skills of any kind. Life looked very bleak. But as it turns out, I have a strong natural talent for computers … still becoming a software developer would not been possible if something amazing didn't happened.
The first step happened by my being at the right place at the right time. This opportunity was created because I was living out a new way of life for me at the time, which was, “doing the next right thing.”
That first step was nothing impressive. I got a job emptying the trash in the computer room at the company where I was working loading trucks, (18 hours a day at minimum wage in the Phoenix heat). God stepped in and this insignificant job was made into something akin to the 5 loaves and 2 fish. The person God made me into started with the core I had at birth. And then He built me into something that no one could have imagined when I was 20 years old. It took ten years to be established as a bonafide software developer. There were some incredible stories, many “coincidences” that allowed me to progress, and most of it was a journey of faith.
Here are some of the things I have learned:
God has been faithful to His promise to take care of me and my family – even when I didn't have a way to do it myself. I got a front row seat in seeing God deliver time and time again.
God gave me an outlet for the creativity that burns in my soul. For me, software development is almost all about creativity. In fact, I was emotionally unstable until I was able to focus my creative energy at work. This also was a key part of my being successful at it.
I made God first, family second, and work third. This was a significant challenge because I was so behind all the other people I knew. The logical thing to do would have been to spend more time at work to catch up. I didn't do that. I believe I was successful because I let God do the heavy lifting and I did the important things like raise my kids and live out my faith.
This gave me a sense of worth. The moment I realized, (through getting a better job) that I was going to make it as a software developer, and that I would be able to support my family, was indescribable. At that moment, I had one of the strongest God encounters of my life. In this case God’s voice came as a question. It was related to my sense that “I was going to make it” and “my life isn't hopeless after all.” God’s simple question was: “What has changed?” My initial response was, “what does that mean?” Then I realized the question was telling me that nothing has changed. I always had worth; I was never hopeless. This thought became an atom bomb of emotional healing. To this day, when I find myself comparing myself to others and feeling inadequate I remember that event.
I have skills that I’m able to use for Gateway and other church organizations that I wouldn't have if didn't first learn them at work.
You need patience. It can take years of serious work to see plans execute.