It starts with a smile. He exudes gratitude. I can see it in the way he treats the customers. I can hear it when he asks a patron, "How are you, today?" I observe his work ethic as he cleans the floor--his meticulous mopping and his intense scrubbing stand in stark contrast to the fresh dirt marks left by the busy, inattentive passers-by. He doesn't seem to mind. He is both sympathetic and empathetic to those who enter. He draws a smile from a toddler as he droops low to say a kind word at eye-level. Then, he goes outside and sweats in the hot son as he unloads trays off the food truck. Later, he smells of trash as he transports bags of garbage to the dumpster. Eventually, he cleans the bathrooms: the sinks, the floors, the toilets.
He always stays busy. I never hear him complain.
I'm not sure if anyone else notices what a gentle, hard worker this local, Winston-Salem McDonald's employee is, but by God's grace, I do. I've encountered him several times as I often stop at this particular location, and I've intentionally spoken to him and exchanged pleasant words, words that make both of us feel welcome, accepted and loved. It doesn't matter that he's not wearing a 3-piece suit and working at a famous Law Firm. It means nothing that he's not sewing up the final stitch in an emergency surgery at a regionally-acclaimed hospital. It's insignificant that he's not a popular mayor, governor, or senator. But what does matter is the compassionate, determined manner with which he does his job.
When I see him on the job at McDonald's, I see love at work. I see work done well, I see work done graciously, and I see work done with 100% effort.
I see Jesus in him.
Paul desperately wants the church in Colossae to consider the work of Christ and to consider how the sacrificial offering of himself offers us, the church, the benefit of loving others (here as servants to their employers)--the faithful response which results from thanksgiving to God. Here, in Paul's letter, he pens these words:
"Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the LORD
and not for men and women" (Col. 3:23, NIV84/WJW).
God is not concerned about your occupation; instead, he's concerned with how well you live out your vocation. We are all called to love God and neighbor with our whole hearts, with our whole selves! Regardless of the type of job you do, regardless of social stigmas or prejudices, the only thing that matters is the good work that you do, good heart work, giving your all. And what is the motivation to work with all you've got?:
A Savior who decided to leave the comforts of heaven to put on human flesh, demonstrating how we are to be imitators of God (Gal. 5:1)...a Redeemer who was willing to carry a wooden cross and offer himself through the horrific act of crucifixion...a Shepherd who gave his life, freely, in order that humanity might be reconciled to God and to one another.
So if you mop, mop as working for the Lord, not for others. If you drive a truck, drive as working for the Lord not for others. If you're a stay-at-home-parent, work at it with all your heart and not for others. If you're unemployed or retired, overworked or underpaid, unappreciated or unrecognized...work at what God has given you to do, and consider it as work for the Master--let that perspective cause you to work by the sweat of your brow, inherit a never-quit attitude, and give every ounce of your being offered to the One who gave what we never could.
The chances are extremely high that, when I return to this local McDonald's, I'll see Love's work ethic on display. I'll witness it in this kind, friendly man who takes his job seriously, simply because he's grateful to be employed. His gratitude is a wonderful example to me. Perhaps there are others who take notice of his pain-staking attempts to do his job to the best of his ability, but I honestly doubt it. If only people noticed and were inspired to work as hard and as compliantly!
Church, may we adopt this same attitude, the attitude of Christ who considered others better than himself (Phil. 2) and left a Throne above to reign in servitude, giving us the ultimate example of what it means to "...work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, and not for men and women." Let's follow Christ, ask him to establish our Spirit-led work ethic, and serve his church through our spiritual gifts and ministries, knowing that 100% God-driven effort, in and through us, will yield a transformed community of those who know Jesus is Lord and that all people matter.
So...whatever you are doing, right now, are you working at it with all your heart, with your motivation to serve the King of kings? If not, confess and repent of any halfheartedness and remember the good news--there's no condemnation for those of us in Christ! (Rom. 8:1). Start by asking God to change your attitude...then the work ethic will follow. Remember, God gave you work--it is a gift of God! Honor him by giving it your all.
And whenever I forget this lesson, I'll go back to McDonald's and see my friend working hard and diligently. I'll notice that smile and observe him giving it his all...and I'll know I've seen Jesus...at work, giving all of his heart. Amen.
Motivated with you to work diligently and well for the Lord,
><> John 3:30 <><