This is labor day weekend and many are away travelling getting the last little bit of holiday before the September starts.
In just a couple of days students will go back to school to get an education so they can get a better job, and adults will go back to work to help pay for their children’s college and university so their children can get a better job than they are working at.
I want to minister to you this morning from the word of God about our lives and the work place. Before I do that though I thought I might share a few little stories I came across.
This first one is for the students in our midst. This is advice from Bill Gates for Students.
Rules for the Real World
In Bill Gates’ book Business @ The Speed of Thought, he lays out 11 rules that students do not learn in high school or college, but should. He argues that our feel-good, politically correct teachings have created a generation of kids with no concept of reality who are set up for failure in the real world.
RULE 1 - Life is not fair; get used to it.
RULE 2 - The world won’t care about your self-esteem. The world will expect you to accomplish something BEFORE you feel good about yourself.
RULE 3 - You will NOT make 40 thousand dollars a year right out of high school. You won’t be a vice-president with a car phone, until you earn both a high school and college degree.
RULE 4 - If you think your teacher is tough, wait till you get a boss. He doesn’t have tenure.
RULE 5- Flipping burgers is not beneath your dignity. Your grandparents had a different word for burger-flipping;they called it opportunity.
RULE 6 - If you mess up, it’s not your parents’ fault, so don’t whine about your mistakes; learn from them.
RULE 7 - Before you were born, your parents weren’t as boring as they are now. They got that way from paying your bills; cleaning your clothes and listening to you talk about how cool you are. So before you save the rain forest from the parasites of your parents’ generation, try "delousing" the clothes in your own room.
RULE 8 - Your school may have done away with winners and losers, but life has not. In some schools they have abolished failing grades; they will let you try as many times as you want to get the right answer. This doesn’t bear the slightest resemblance to ANYTHING in real life.
RULE 9 - Life is not divided into semesters. You don’t get summers off and very few employers are interested in helping you find yourself. Do that on your own time.
RULE 10 - Television is NOT real life. In real life people actually have to leave the coffee shop to go to their jobs.
RULE 11 - Be nice to nerds. Chances are you’ll end up working for one.
Ok Now here is one for those of you who have graduated from the school of Higher Education to the School of life and are working. You may have just started working and like many have discovered you have to start at the bottom and work your way up, or perhaps you have been working and have made it to a management position. Either way, there is something for everybody in this one.
You Must Be A ...
A man in a hot air balloon realized he was lost. He reduced altitude and spotted a woman below. He descended a bit more and shouted, "Excuse me, can you help me? I promised a friend I would meet him an hour ago, but I don’t know where I am." The woman below replied, "You’re in a hot air balloon hovering approximately 30 feet above the ground. You’re between 40 and 41 degrees north latitude and between 59 and 60 degrees west longitude."
"You must be an engineer," said the balloonist. "I am," replied the woman, "How did you know?" "Well," answered the balloonist, "everything you told me is, technically correct, but I’ve no idea what to make of your information, and the fact is I’m still lost. Frankly, you’ve not been much help at all. If anything, you’ve delayed my trip."
The woman below responded, "You must be in Management." "I am," replied the balloonist, "but how did you know?" "Well," said the woman, "you don’t know where you are or where you’re going. You have risen to where you are due to a large quantity of hot air. You made a promise, which you’ve no idea how to keep, and you expect people beneath you to solve your problems. The fact is you are in exactly the same position you were in before we met, but now, somehow, it’s my fault."
And then finally, this is one of my favorites about…
Someone has written that there are four kinds of bones in the world. The WISH BONES who spend their time wishing someone else would do the work; The JAW BONES who do all the talking, but very little else; The KNUCKLE BONES who knock everything that anyone else is trying to do; The BACK BONES who shoulder the load and do the work. Which one are you?
Do you enjoy your job? Do you look forward to Monday mornings so you can see the boss? Do you miss your fellow workers so much that you can’t wait be together again?
Well if you are like the “average Joe or Susan,” statistics say that 65 % of people do not like their jobs. They simply go to work because it’s “I owe, I owe, it’s off to work I go!”
Many of these same people if they were honest would tell you that they are unhappy and their life feels like it has no sense of purpose.
But I want to remind you of some things from the word of God that if you are one of those in the 65% category, it might help you to begin to see and realize your job is an opportunity to fulfill God’s purpose for your life.
It’s All Sacred
a. Many try to divide life into sacred and secular
b. There are two primary problems with this
i. It isn’t biblical to do so
ii. It doesn’t work
c. It isn’t biblical
i. O.T. – separation existed
ii. Only the Priests & Temple were sacred – all else was secular
iii. N.T. – teaches we are all priests & our body is the temple, that God’s Holy Spirit indwells us
iv. Jesus said he will never leave us, so we can take God where ever we go and involve him in whatever we do
d. It doesn’t work
i. If you try to divide life into sacred & secular – You will only be frustrated as a believer
ii. You will only be able to give God – the left overs in life not your first fruit or your best.
1. Serving him on Sunday for a few hours and then the rest of the week working for the boss.
e. Instead It’s All Sacred
i. All your life is the Lords’
ii. Your family life, Your Church life, your school life, your career it is all sacred and to bring honor to God.
iii. So if that is true I want you to see this about your everyday work.
1. See Your Work as Service For God
a. Every thing you do affects someone else
i. The Factory worker who makes shoes
ii. The Farmer who produces produce
iii. The Pilot who flies
iv. The Driver who drives
v. The Doctor, the nurse, every form of work impacts others
b. We are the beneficiaries of their labors
c. What you do impacts others
i. Jesus served his till he was 30 as a carpenter
1. People needed tables, chairs, yoke for oxen
ii. Sometimes people tell me what I have said or the way I said something changed their way of thinking
d. What we say, what we do is important because it impacts others and that is an awesome responsibility
e. Rom. 12:1 says “1 Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God's mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God--this is your spiritual act of worship. Do you think we can some how apply this to our daily work?
2. See Your Place of Work is a Ministry Opportunity
a. Objections raised
1. You don’t know where I work.
2. You don’t know my boss
3. You have no idea pastor of the power struggles, the flirtation in the office, the swearing, the dirty stories that are told or the pornography that is passed around
i. Listen to Eph 6:5 Slaves, obey your earthly masters with respect and fear, and with sincerity of heart, just as you would obey Christ.
ii. Translation: Even if your boss is the most unfair, pagan that exists, you should respect him/her and submit to their authority working for them as though you are working for Jesus.
b. Objection raised
1. You don’t know my boss, or how pagan the place I work in is or you wouldn’t suggest that.
i. Do you remember Daniel in the O.T.
a. Carried of to Bablyon (a pagan nation)
b. King Nebucchadnezar appoints him as a government official (what we hear – that’s as far away from God as it gets!)
ii. Daniel served the King, did his duties and served God
a. Nebucchanezar respected Daniel’s faithfulness to serve the king and to serve God and he promoted him higher and higher
iii. Nebucchadnezzar eventually died and the empire began to crumble and was conquered by Darius
a. Daniel again recognized for faithful and outstanding service
b. Is again appointed to one of the highest positions
c. But Daniel faced a time when he was pressured to compromise and do things against God – Daniel refused to compromise and Darius who was also Daniel’s friend was forced to throw him in the Lion’s den.
d. You know the story – God’s shuts the lion’s mouths – King runs to the den the next morning and calls out, Listen to what it says in Dan 6:20 “When he came near the den, he called to Daniel in an anguished voice, "Daniel, servant of the living God, has your God, whom you serve continually, been able to rescue you from the lions?"
iv. Did you catch that? Daniel living in a pagan nation, working under a pagan king, yet the one thing the King knew and mentions here about Daniel is that “He served God continually!”
v. Do the people you work with know you serve God continually?
3. Every Believer is a Minister
Some times people have said to me, “ I wish I was in full time ministry, it would be easier to serve the Lord.”
a. Before answering God’s call to fulltime ministry …
i. I worked for two farmers
ii. I drove delivery truck for a year
iii. Worked as a maintenance mechanic for 6yrs
iv. Worked in Construction for 2 years
v. Worked in water treatment sales & installation for a year
vi. Worked as a Maintenance Manager for 4 years
b. I know where you come from when you say that
i. I know something about how people sometimes talk, and what kind of things go on in the secular work place and I am thankful God called me into Full time Ministry.
ii. But I am no more a servant of God now then I was then. The bible teaches we are all ministers no matter what our job description or where our work place is. If you are a Christian you are a minister of God.
iii. True, God may call you out of that to serve full time in a mission field, or to preach, or evangelize or whatever, and if he does you need to respond. But you will be no more a minister then than you are right now.
iv. Your ministry is now, wherever you are, you are to minister to those around you in Jesus name
c. OBJECTION – “I’m a victim of circumstances I’m only working this job because I couldn’t get the one I wanted. So I’m stuck with this one for now and it stinks and I really don’t like it!”
i. Question - Was God surprised when you didn’t get the job you “wanted”
ii. Question – How does the sovereignty of God fit into all of what is happening to you.?
iii. Remember Daniel…he was a victim of circumstances too. He was living as a prisoner dragged of into a foreign land against his will. Forced to learn pagan teaching and customs
iv. Listen to what God says in Jer. 29:4 – “This is what the Lord Almighty, the God of Israel, says to all those I carried into exile from Jerusalem to Babylon:”
v. Daniel in a pagan nation surrounded by pagans and God says “I put you there exactly where I want you.”
1. You may think you are not where you want to be
2. You may think you are a victim of circumstance
3. You may think you are surrounded by pagans… but remember God is sovereign and he has brought you to exactly where he wants you!
vi. You’re in a secular work place, rubbing shoulders with pagans, sounds to me like a God given opportunity to shine your light in the darkness, a place where the salt can get out of the Salt Shaker and bring influence to bring out the “good” and the “Best”
vii. Those people who tell you about their family, there wife, their husband, their vacation, the car they bought … doesn’t it make sense that God put you there so you share with them to. Share what “God has done in Your life!”
viii. 4 suggestions for witnessing
1. Don’t brag
a. About how wonderful your life is
b. Or about how righteous you are or how much sin you have over come and how you are now a model husband or wife…
c. That will only turn them off
2. Don’t nag
a. Don’t carry your bible under your arm and every time someone cusses.. open it up and say “See what it says here….!”
b. If they talk about their hang over don’t open your bible and say.. “See all drunkards go to hell”
c. Yes it’s true… but you won’t win them to Jesus that way. All you will do is turn them away
3. Don’t lag
a. It is important that as a Christian you do your work and do it well. To be lazy or slothful on the job is a poor testimony for Christ.
4. Don’t sag
a. Be really careful not to go back to your old way of life. Be really careful that you don’t listen to the language and begin to use it yourself. Becareful you are not enticed by the promises of the riches and lights of the far of land. Make sure your eyes stay focused on Jesus.
5. If you keep you eyes on Jesus, don’t start using their language, watch how you react in situation, and live a good testimony… sooner or later they are going to notice and say, “I’ve noticed your different, what caused that difference?
6. Some time they will be hurting inside or looking for answers. If you live a life that mirrors the love of Christ sooner or later the door of opportunity will open to you and you will have their invitation to share. All you have to do is just be their every day, and be faithful.
When God said through Jeremiah he had brought them into exile in Babylon he went on to say this in verse 5-7 of Jer. 29: “5 "Build houses and settle down; plant gardens and eat what they produce. 6 Marry and have sons and daughters; find wives for your sons and give your daughters in marriage, so that they too may have sons and daughters. Increase in number there; do not decrease. 7 Also, seek the peace and prosperity of the city to which I have carried you into exile. Pray to the Lord for it, because if it prospers, you too will prosper.
Very practical words that God passed through Jeremiah to to those in exile …
Come to think of it, aren’t we in exile too?
This world is not my home, I’m just a passing through”
Jesus has gone to “Prepare a home for me… and I look forward to being there one day.”
In the meantime however, perhaps the words of another song might serve to inspire us as we prepare to go back to work on Tuesday…
It is Steve Green’s “Find Us Faithful”
We're pilgrims on the journey of the narrow road
And those who've gone before us line the way
Cheering on the faithful, encouraging the weary
Their lives a stirring testament to God's sustaining grace
Surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses
Let us run the race not only for the prize
But as those who've gone before us
Let us leave to those behind us
The heritage of faithfulness
Passed on through Godly lives
Oh may all who come behind us find us faithful
May the fire of our devotion light their way
May the footprints that we leave
Lead them to believe
And the lives we live inspire them to obey
Oh may all who come behind us find us faithful