Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Who do you work for?

Hello and welcome again, to A Good Bible Study: StressLess. We are asking "who do you work for?" it might not be who you think.

One of the ways I get stressed, is when I focus more on the results of my efforts, instead of the pleasure of doing what I can, when I can, while giving the best I can. I start working for fleeting rewards, instead of something that lasts day to day.

Before we get into that, let's pray:

Lord, we know the thoughts you have toward us: plans to prosper us and not to harm us, to give us a future and a hope. Help us to rest in that, trust in that, to do the best we can with what we can each day, and then to believe you will turn our little into a big bunch of a lot! Take this little bit of time we spend together in Your presence, and create a big change in our hearts, today. We thank You, and praise You, in the name of Jesus, amen.

Do you ever get discouraged in your job or daily tasks? When you are discouraged, who is the one person you wish would walk in and complement your efforts? _________________________ What happens when they don't?

We all want to be rewarded, don't we? Either we want our efforts to result in more money, or we want the gratitude of those for whom we are sacrificing and working so hard, or we just want someone to notice how hard we are trying or even just praise our finished product at the end of the day.

The problem with working for the approval of people, or for a certain reward, is that our inner peace and joy becomes dependent upon getting that feedback we want so much.

I don't know about you, but the people in my life don't always notice how much I do for them; and some days I get a new blogging follower, and other days I don't; or some days I get a new speaking event or a client for one of my other businesses, and other days people are flat out rude; and some days my kids make me look good in public, and some days not so much . . . you get my point?

People, money, results, outcomes, etc., are all good benchmarks to check our progress, but they can't be the source of our self-worth or sense of peace or joy. These are all temporary, changeable, fleeting rewards that often have more to do with other people's moods than our value anyway.

Do I want to base the worth of my day's hard work on someone's current mood? I don't think so. I want something solid to judge my efforts by, because some days the money comes easy, and other days it's an exercise in patience and stick-to-it-iveness. There has got to be something higher I can work for, something to keep me motivated to do my best, something or someone unchanging and unaffected by the economy or which side of the bed they got out on.

Let's read some of God's thoughts on work and reward:

Read the following verses and write down what each means to your personal situation:

Deuteronomy 30:8-10 _____________________________________________

Proverbs14:23 ___________________________________________________

Matthew 5:37 ____________________________________________________


John 6:27 _______________________________________________________

1 Corinthians 10:31 _______________________________________________

Colossians 3:23!!

As I read each of these verses, I realized that if we seek God's approval in all that we do, work for His pleasure in the way we handle our business, He will bless and prosper us, regardless of the fleeting opinion of anyone in authority over our paychecks.

I realized that we often spend too much time talking about why we can't succeed or prosper, or complete a project much less get started on one, and how different people are standing in our way, but if all we do is talk about why we can't, we will never, ever get up and do what it is that we can.

At the end of the day, we can either do something asked of us, or we can't. It's yes or no. We create so much stress by being unwilling to let be it what it is, to let our yes be yes, and our no be no.

If I know I don't have the time or energy to do something well, then I need to say no. If I know I do have time, and could be a blessing, but just don't want to be inconvenienced, sometimes I do need to step out and say yes. Then I do it and don't call back later and back out! I am learning to tell the difference, and find I am always blessed when I do the thing I could do, but just don't want to do well.

Satan is always looking for ways to steal my blessing. One way he has found me to be vulnerable, is to convince me to do the minimum, instead of my best; to commit to a project, then find ways to get out of my responsibilities.

He knows if I am faithful to my word, I will get the joy of seeing my work be fruitful, and others be helped, and nearly every time, I find the one who received the most from my honoring my commitment, was me.

Too often we see work, projects, volunteer missions, and other tasks as a means to get "things;" things which don't last and have to be replaced. Sure, we need to eat, have clothing, housing, and transportation. But if our focus is on working for things, we will never be satisfied.

If our work is focused on pleasing God with our attitude of integrity, with our work ethic, and with our sensitivity to solving problems for people, then we can easily achieve our main goals each day and get the praise of the Holy Spirit while we simultaneously do what needs to be done to provide for our physical needs. Does that make sense?

Don't you think if you do whatever you do with the purpose of glorifying and honoring your relationship with God, and seek to show Him love by doing things His way, that these will also be things that please your spouse, employer, supervisor, clients, etc.? The difference is trusting God to reward you, instead of hoping fallible, moody humans notice you.

Kirstie Alley tells the story of growing up with little money. Her best friend's mom put Kirstie to work cleaning houses, and taught her to take pride in her effort, not in her paycheck. When Kirstie complained that all of her friends got money from their parents and enjoyed spending it at the mall, her friend's mom told her those girls were getting the only reward they ever would: spending someone else's money and having nothing once it was gone.

She was showing Kirstie that her effort might not seem like a great deal now, but it was all going to pay off in the end. She told Kirstie to clean every home like it was her own, because while those girls were doing noting, Kirstie was learning to care for nice things, and appreciate the effort it takes to build up the money to buy those nice things. Her friend's mom told her that she wanted her to clean like it was hers, because one day it would be her living in the nice house, and enjoying the fruit of knowing how to work for a higher purpose than just going to the mall.

You've got to work for a higher purpose!

Are you going to work hard for someone with a bad attitude? You will if you are working from your own good attitude - for a higher purpose.

Are you going to stick it out when the pay isn't what you want, yet? You will if you are trusting God to prosper you - for a higher purpose.

Are you going to keep giving to those teens when all they seem to do is discount your wisdom and bend your rules? You will if you are working to show them stability of character, and unconditional love, and keeping your eye on the finished product and not where they are right now. You will if you have a higher purpose than gratitude and appreciation.

A higher purpose gives you energy when you are out of energy. A higher purpose gives you strength when everything around you is trying to drain you dry.

Let me finish with a story about a high school boy who only wanted one thing: for his dad to see him play one great game. I read this on the One Month to Live website and am paraphrasing the following:

A high school line-backer played second string, meaning hardly ever in the game, but he wanted to play so badly one night, he convinced his coach to let him in. You see, his father came to every game, and although he was blind, the dad wanted to be there for his son. Usually, he wasn't missing much because his son wasn't very good.

On this particular night, the coach put the boy in. The opposing teams' fullback got the ball and bam - that kid put him down. In the next play, the quarterback set up to pass, and this young player blitzed in and sacked the quarterback. In every play he ran as hard as he could and left everything he had on that field. After winning the game, the coach grabbed the boy by his helmet and yelled at him, "That's one of the greatest games I've ever seen a high school linebacker play! What got into you?"

The boy said, "You know my dad? He's blind but he comes to every game."
"Yeah," the coach answered.
"Well," the boy continued," My dad died last night, and this was going to be the first game he ever saw, so I wanted to do my best. That's why I had to play. I was playing for him. I was playing for him and it made all the difference."

Who are you playing for? Are you playing for toys? Are you playing for money? Are you playing for possessions? Are you playing for pats on the back? Are you playing for complements, for a good reputation, for a leg-up in your business?

Or, are you playing for the One who can actually make a difference in your life, in your levels of stress, in your ability to be a real force for change, or growth, or blessing?

Let's pray:

Father, it is so easy to get caught up in trying to get things done, trying to hurry up and succeed, trying to finally get the approval we desire from people, trying to prove what we are capable of, trying to work our agenda. Forgive us! We want Your approval. We want Your influence. We want the rewards that only You can offer. We want a heavenly paycheck.

Help us to remember that You see it all. You know our hearts, and You also know our needs. We get so focused on wants, on getting people to notice our efforts and forget that like us, other people do things based on their own needs and desires, not necessarily to benefit you and me.

Help us to seek You first, trusting You to notice, to approve, to reward, and as You say, everything else will follow. Help us to work hard, and do our best, knowing at the end of the day we don't have to be worried about the outcome, because we gave it our all, left it all on the field, and can be proud our ourselves. In Jesus' holy name, amen.

Love, Karen

Photo by Leticia Wilson, courtesy of

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