“whatever you do, do it all to the glory of God.”
I Corinthians 10:31
Last night at dinner sat a student, a teacher, a pastor, a cardiologist, and a soldier…It sounds like the beginning of a joke, doesn’t it? It’s not a joke. They were all at our table last night. It was interesting to hear each tell about a ‘day in the life’ — the good, the bad, and the boring. The soldier asked the cardiologist, “so what exactly do you do?” The cardiologist answered, “the sexy answer is that I stop heart attacks and save lives, but the reality is that I take a lot of measurements and do a lot of diagnostics.” The soldier answered, “well, my sexy answer is that I jump out of planes and blow things up, but the reality is that I do a lot of paper work and a lot of cleaning.”
We wanna give the sexy answer, don’t we? “I’m editing a novel and coaching a Harvard graduate student.” But, we gotta face the reality, “I do laundry and pick up dog poop.”
As each day goes on, I become more convinced that although our professional roles are important, the “goods” are in the interpersonal exchanges. It makes no difference if I am a student or a janitor; if I cared about someone today — listened, answered, provided, encouraged — that is the money. It doesn’t matter if my house was clean, my clothing smart, or my bills paid; if I was available for another human when she needed me, my day is made.
Why do I forget that so often? I chase after position, title, paycheck, prestige, authority, when I have been given simple instructions:
Carry each other’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ. Galatians 6:2
Love the Lord with all your heart, soul, and mind…love your neighbor Matt. 22
Whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God. I Cor. 10:31
He didn’t tell me to get a job, or a degree; He said to use my gifts to the glory of God. Sometimes I interpret that to mean that if I am not using my writing than I am not giving glory to God. But, He has given all of us many gifts, among them the spiritual gifts of love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, gentleness, self-control…These gifts don’t require position or prestige…just willingness. Am I willing to love the person in front of me? Am I willing to be patient? Am I willing to be gentle? To exercise self-control?
Sometimes I think that following God’s simple commands is much more difficult than having a career. His commands require me to lay my own needs aside. I am not always willing to do that. I want to be able to give the sexy answer.
However, when I look back over my life, the people who really made a difference for me weren’t too concerned about the sexy answer. The professor who held my coat for me on a cold winter day in the mid 1980s, the friend’s mother who responded “I love you” to my fierce “I hate you!”, the college nurse who listened kindly every day when I weighed (and judged) myself, the friend who came to my house to care for my kids while I had the stomach flu, the church members who loaded our possessions into a moving truck…Nope, not too sexy, but so meaningful. Each was willing to give of themselves — time, attention, energy, love, patience, kindness — for me. And I can honestly say that I knew, in each of these instances, that God was motivating, providing, using these people to love me.
That is some powerful stuff. When we acknowledge that God, who is God, cares enough to provide someone to care for our stomach flu, to help us on with our coat, to notice us in the vastness of life…that’s not sexy, it’s breathtaking.
I wanna be that someone that God uses, to His glory.