Thursday, September 20, 2007

Working hard?


On Wednesday nights, Larry and I take turns teaching in the adult service in the sanctuary. Last night was my night to teach and our subject this month is productivity and how it is part of our spirituality and maturity in Christ. I thought I'd share my message here on my blog. I don't post every message I preach, nor do I want this to be a sermon blog (refer to yesterday's post) but occasionally I like to post what I preached. So here goes...

ARE YOU WORKING HARD? OR ARE YOU HARDLY WORKING?

The anointing of God extends not just to the altar, but for business, for work, for anything that encompasses our lives. We are literally, ANOINTED FOR BUSINESS...FOR WORK.

Many people hate work. They even refer to slogans regarding the fact that…”at the end of your life, you won’t regret not working more.” I don't believe that is necessarily true, it just makes for some nice plaques! Even Michaelangelo said something at the end of his life about having so much work left to do and wanting more years to do it.

There is a passage of scripture in I Chronicles 29 where David talks about the preparations his son would need to build God’s house. It records David’s challenge to the people to contribute their work and their resources. In the fifth verse, David asks a question to everyone…and God is asking us this today: “AND WHO THEN IS WILLING TO CONSECRATE HIS SERVICE THIS DAY UNTO THE LORD?”

Did you know that work was created before the fall? It was a mandate from the very beginning.

Genesis 1:28 God blessed them and said to them, "Be fruitful and increase in number; fill the earth and subdue it. Rule over the fish of the sea and the birds of the air and over every living creature that moves on the ground."

God created for six days, then rested on the seventh day, then began to work again. Some people think God worked, then rested for all eternity. Some people think we should do the same. The truth is, this is not God’s plan and rest assured, GOD IS WORKING!

Laziness is something often joked about but quite truthfully, it’s a sin.

Heb.6:12 That you be not lazy and slow, but followers of them who through faith and patience inherit the promises.

The definition of laziness:

1.Lazy--disinclined to activity, not willing to apply exertion, move slow, not strict, lax, having a love of easy things.Never able to achieve an aim, goal, purpose.2. Slothful -- spiritual apathy and inactivity, slow moving, indisposition to lack effort, slow to respond, slow growth.

Did you know it is actually possible to spend more time and effort avoiding work than to do it?

In one of our life coaching sessions, Larry and I asked Dr. Lee about the issue of productivity. We were wondering if some people on a staff should get away with not producing more because they are a type B personality versus an A, or so forth. Down through the years in leading a staff, we’ve heard things like, “Well Pastor, I’m just not as driven as you…” as an excuse for lack of productivity. Some don’t consider it a spiritual issue, but simply an issue of working styles being different. So in other words, the thinking some people have is that one's personality or working style would determine their level of productivity and not their spirituality. Dr. Lee assured us that this can never be an excuse and that productivity is indeed an issue of spirituality and maturity. You cannot separate spirituality and productivity in a Christian’s life because true Christians will produce fruit.

What does the scripture say about this?

John 15:1-8 "I am the true vine, and my Father is the gardener. He cuts off every branch in me that bears no fruit, while every branch that does bear fruit he prunes so that it will be even more fruitful. You are already clean because of the word I have spoken to you. Remain in me, and I will remain in you. No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me. "I am the vine; you are the branches. If a man remains in me and I in him, he will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing. If anyone does not remain in me, he is like a branch that is thrown away and withers; such branches are picked up, thrown into the fire and burned. If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be given you. This is to my Father's glory, that you bear much fruit, showing yourselves to be my disciples.”

So - God says He will cut off every branch that does not bear fruit. Wise employers will do the same. John Maxwell says it's not the people you fire who make you miserable, it's the ones you don't! I've definitely seen that proven true.

Did you know that your mind, body and emotions were designed for hard work and will break down without it?


Did you know it is proven that the greatest percentage of people die within two years of retirement…they feel “my work is done…” ??

Proverbs 10:26 Lazy people irritate their employers, like vinegar to the teeth or smoke in the eyes.

If you are not diligent and your boss is often short and irritated with you, look no further as to why. If you try to witness to your boss or invite them to church and they seem to want nothing to do with it maybe you should examine your work habits and ethics first. Make sure they are lining up before you share Jesus because what you do greatly overshadows what you say to your boss. If you aren't working hard for them, don't expect them to be interested in the God you want to tell them about.

If you are lazy on the job, this scripture above describes you. If you talk on your cell phone and surf the internet and waste the time your boss is paying you for, realize, this scripture describes you. It's amazing to me that some people need a wake up call as to why they get on their boss's nerves. I recently got a letter from a young woman in another city who got my name and information off of a flyer where I was speaking. She wrote me a letter and called me for advice. She claimed to be "persecuted for her faith" at work yet upon talking with her I realized she is not really persecuted for her faith. The truth is, she is doing a lot of church work from her desk instead of doing her work. Her job is at a law firm and has nothing to do with church. No wonder they are not happy about her faith! This is not persecution, they are simply trying to be good managers.

Colossians 3:22-25 “Servants, do what you're told by your earthly masters. And don't just do the minimum that will get you by. Do your best. Work from the heart for your real Master, for God, confident that you'll get paid in full when you come into your inheritance. Keep in mind always that the ultimate Master you're serving is Christ. The sullen servant who does shoddy work will be held responsible. Being a follower of Jesus doesn't cover up bad work.”

Did you hear that? That's a great zinger from the Word - BEING A FOLLOWER OF JESUS DOESN'T COVER UP BAD WORK. So...

How to find favor with your boss at work? BE THE BEST WORKER HE/SHE HAS EVER HAD! Be careful not to waste time, be disloyal or take from the company what is not yours.

One time my husband and I had a secretary who would be on the phone - with personal calls, not church - on a constant basis. We had to speak to her about personal calls. (In my opinion, a boss should never have to speak to a Christian worker about this - it is just a given that you work when you're at work unless there's an emergency of some sort, like your kid being sick at school.) Previous to us speaking to her about the personal calls, she sat at her desk and talked on the church phone. My husband asked her to stop making personal calls and tieing up the church line. We thought that would be enough said. But then she started sitting there on her cell phone all the time. We told her the issue was not just the church phone, but ANY excessive personal calls. After we talked to her about it, I discovered she would just be absent from her desk a lot. I would not see her with the cell phone at the desk, I just would not see her as much in the office. Upon investigation one day, I discovered she was taking and making calls in one of the ladies bathroom stalls in the church. She saw absolutely nothing wrong with the fact that she was constantly leaving her desk to make calls and trying to circumvent our instruction. She actually felt entitled to make as many calls as she wanted. In fact to take it one step further, she thought it was perfectly fine to plan her daughter's entire wedding from her desk at work and have us pay her for it. (Amazing!)

The same employee would then wonder why we didn’t go out of our way at times to show more appreciation to her, or why we gave much more appreciation to other staffers. Quite truthfully she was lucky I didn’t just fire her right there on the spot in the bathroom.

We have to take care because we will reap what we sow. If you ever have any aspirations to be a manager, take heed. Sow good things by being a good support worker. It is interesting when people are in support roles it makes them really mad if the boss talks to them about personal calls, but one day if they become the boss it is suddenly one of the things that drives them crazy. (They reap what they sow!) It's a whole different world when you become a manager versus a support person. I realize there are times we must all take personal calls or e-mails or handle a personal matter at work. I am not speaking of being extreme or unbalanced. But I do know this, it shouldn't happen every day all the time. In our heart of hearts, we all know if we ask the Holy Spirit to speak to us about it, if we are doing what we should not be doing. Think about this...do you have "loopholes" with this issue, or ways of getting around or away with things?

Why do some companies have such strict rules or even contracts that their employees sign about "personal e-mails"? I have gotten emails from friends from their home account that say, "do not send me any mail at work - I can be immediately fired for it, especially if it just contains forwards, jokes, etc." My question is, why should employers have to have these strict rules and such? It's a shame that adults cannot just be mature and do what they are supposed to do but we are living in a world where people are no longer diligent and as productive as they should be and sometimes employers almost have to get "ridiculous" about it just to get some work done. Quite truthfully I think it's a shame that these kind of rules need to be in place because it would be nice that employees could sit and do personal emails over breaks or lunch or whatever, but because of many people abusing freedoms, they are sometimes taken away from all.


Many people think a church is different or should be different but quite truly it is not and how much more diligent should we be with God’s work? For those of us who work in a church setting, we must be just as excellent with the work of God if not more.

How should we work in the house of God? In I Chronicles 29:2 David said, “I have prepared with all my might for the house of God.”


It is easy to have favor with our boss…it is not rocket science…in giving 100%...faithfulness, due diligence, being responsible, etc. we are developing favor.


What is faithfulness, by the way? Some people think it is just being faithful to show up, faithful to be there. However, that's just part of it. I once heard Willie George (pastor of Church on the Move, Tulsa, OK) describe it as “being a faithful copy of your pastor’s heart.” In this case he was speaking to church staffers, but it applies to you whether you work at a church or a corporation or wherever. Faithfulness is BEING FAITHFUL TO DO THINGS EXACTLY LIKE THE BOSS WANTS YOU TO DO THEM. Faithfulness means that no matter what you think, you carry your tasks out like your boss thinks...in other words, you try to have their mind on things and you do it their way.

Years ago my husband and I had a staffer who was extremely trustworthy, who was working with several who were not. If we would leave and go on vacation and say, “we want so and so to direct the service” or “so and so will pray” or “so and so will handle the bank deposit” – the ones who were not always "faithful copies of our heart" may change things based on what they felt like they should do at the time. We'd come back from being away and find out that a different staffer led the service, or somebody else directed the prayer time because they "felt led". They might even blame it on God. ("The spirit was moving this way, so we didn't do it the way you asked...") They just thought things should be done a different way, however they needed to remember it wasn't at all about what they thought or felt but about being a copy of their lead pastors' hearts. However, among them was one faithful staffer who would have absolutely done everything just like we asked him to, or he would have died trying. If he ever wondered and truly didn't know what we thought or would want, he'd pick up the phone and ask just to be sure.

We always put the faithful staffer in charge most of the time and gave them the most responsibilities, opportunities to preach (we knew we'd never have to worry that he'd say something that wasn't our heart or teach/preach something to our people that was contrary to our viewpoint/position as the senior pastors), and we leaned on him for pretty much everything. Other staffers would sometimes question, “why?” or comment, “we’re surprised the responsibilities aren’t spread out more” or "He preached last time..." and sometimes act hurt about it. But the truth is, our faithful staffer was a copy of our heart, and always carried things out exactly as we asked and with excellence. To this day we are still giving him great references and would gladly hire him again in a heartbeat, or help him in any way we can, but such is not the same with everyone.

Not only must we be faithful, but the scripture says to do our work but it says to do it cheerfully.

Colossians 2:23,24 “Whatever you do, do your work heartily, as for the Lord rather than for men, knowing that from the Lord you will receive the reward.”

God wants us to give ourselves WILLINGLY to serve. Not, “I have to” but “I get to.”

D.L. Moody said, “I never met a lazy Christian.” He said he believed this was true because in his opinion, you can’t be a true Christian and be lazy.

Think about it…who does God call to greatness? The lazy person or the serving person?

God doesn’t call lazy people!!! He calls people who are already doing something.

Let’s look at Bible examples as pointed out by D.L. Moody:

· Saul was seeking his father’s donkeys and David his father’s sheep when called to the Kingdom.
· The shepherds were feeding their flocks when they heard the glorious revelation.
· God called the four apostles from their fishing and Matthew from collecting taxes.
· He called Moses from tending Jethro’s sheep.
· He called Gideon from the threshing floor.
· He called Elijah from the plows.
God has never extended his call to a lazy person. He probably won't start any time soon.

Here's the bottom line:

Proverbs 12:24 “Work hard and become a leader; be lazy and become a slave.”

The bible says that "diligent hands will rule." What about you? Are you working hard or hardly working?

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