I have always loved to work. I love to be doing; we’ve established that. I like the feeling that I am meeting a need. I like the satisfaction of a job well-done. But let’s be honest for just a moment — paychecks are nice.
I’ve been paid to babysit, to drop a fry basket into a vat of boiling oil, to stuff envelopes, to mystery shop, to write devotions, to teach, to proctor tests, and even to walk door-to-door asking ‘how many people live in the house, what is their ethnicity and employment status’. I’ve been paid everything from fifty cents an hour to a respectable salary with benefits for me and my family.
It’s an exchange, isn’t it? The worker does a task; the employer pays a wage. That wage provides the means for the worker to pay for food, housing, clothing, and other necessities. It provides a means for the worker to save for the future. It allows the worker to bless others.
But there is more. Somewhere in the deep recesses of my brain, I try to tie that wage to my worth. If I am earning, then I have value. The more I earn, the more value I have. I am worth something when I am working and making a wage.
Uh-oh. What happens when I resign my position and decide to be still for a period of several months. I won’t be working. I won’t be getting paid. I will be being still. This could present a little problem in the inner workings of my psyche.
Over the years, my husband and I have been in every state of employment — we have both worked, he has worked, I have worked. For a few months, neither of us was employed full-time. We have made very little and we have made substantial salaries. But one thing remains, we have always had just about exactly what we needed at the moment. We have always had appropriate housing, vehicles that work, food for our family, clothing that looks respectable, the ability to give gifts to others, and the means to take modest vacations.
Just before our first daughter was born, I was teaching full-time in a residential facility for emotionally impaired children. My husband was finishing his hours of supervision to get his license in counseling. I was definitely the primary wage-earner. Yet, we agreed that I would resign my position one week before her due date so that I could be a stay-at-home mom. We made this decision even though he had not yet secured a full-time position. It was a step of faith. I don’t remember our families saying much about it, but they must have thought we had lost our minds! We didn’t have a lot saved, either. In fact, on the day she was born, my husband came to visit me in the hospital. He had about five dollars in his pocket, not much in the checking account, and no idea how he was going to get groceries before I got home. He stopped by the counseling office where he was doing his supervision, checked his mailbox, and found over $500 in pay that had been delayed due to insurance! In 1992 that was plenty to get groceries, pay some bills, put some money in savings, and buy his new daughter a bow to wear home from the hospital. During those months before he had a full-time position, we were blessed over and over by the generosity of others and God’s provision that often came just in time. It grew our faith and reminded us that all things are provided through Him.
Even a paycheck. Yup. That money that someone gives me in exchange for a task I complete is not really a measure of my worth. It is God’s way of providing for me. He has given me gifts, he plugs me into positions, he provides for my needs. He declares my worth.
Jesus told the disciples in Matthew 10: 29 “Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? And not one of them will fall to the ground apart from your Father. But even the hairs of your head are all numbered. Fear not, therefore; you are of more value than many sparrows.”
Did you see that? I am of far more value than many sparrows. I am of far more value than a pay check. My value is found in Christ. Yours, too. And you can’t measure that with a paycheck.