Whatever you do…, Revisit

Monday’s post, Do Something, was meant to be an encouragement to take a step — any small step — toward making a difference. This post, written in November 2014 and cleaned up in August 2019, reminds me that whatever I do is best when it comes from a place of love.

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. 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  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.”

Regardless of what we do in our professional roles — both the impressive and the mundane parts — I have become more and more convinced that although our professional roles are important, the “goods” are in our interpersonal exchanges.

It makes no difference if I am the president 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.

Love the Lord with all your heart, soul, and mind…love your neighbor as yourself.

Do justly, love mercy, walk humbly.

He didn’t tell me to get a job, or a degree; He said to use my gifts to the glory of God. 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, 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 ones who answered midnight texts in the thick of it all, and those who have sat with us and cried. Nope, not sexy at all, but so meaningful. Each was willing to give time, attention, energy, love, patience, and kindness, 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 someone that God uses, to His glory…

whatever I do.

Whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God.

I Cor. 10:31
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