Saturday, September 30, 2006

[Thoughts] Thank You Sir, May I Have Another?

At five o'clock on the due date, R. C. asked me to write an article for Every Thought Captive. The topic? Obeying foolish rulers. Fitting.

It sounded like a request. He seemed to be asking me if I wanted to write an article. But as I walked over to his desk to learn more about what he expected before accepting, I saw that he had already typed by name next to the title. This wasn't a request. It was a requirement of my new job as Assistant Director of the Highlands Study Center.

So I write. Not because I am new in the job and want to make a good early impression, although that's certainly true. Not because I am an expert on obeying foolish rulers, although I do… I mean, have… worked for a few. I write because my boss told me to write. And though I think him foolish for asking me to write at this late date, I do want to please R. C.

But I want to please Jesus more.

In his letter to the church at Ephesus, Paul tells us employees to "be obedient to them that are your masters according to the flesh, with fear and trembling, in singleness of your heart, as unto Christ; not with eyeservice, as menpleasers; but as the servants of Christ, doing the will of God from the heart; with good will doing service, as to the Lord, and not to men." (Eph. 6:5-7)

Which is why, in my former life—last month—I worked 200 hours in two weeks with practically no help to meet a ridiculous deadline which was foolishly and arbitrarily set, having been based on false assumptions, incomplete information and unrealistic expectations. I was obeying foolish rulers. Rulers, I submit, who do not kiss the Son.

My house near Austin was already on the market. I had already interviewed for a couple of jobs, including this one. We had already told friends and family that we were leaving Texas within the month. We were moving to Saint Peter as soon as I had a job or the house sold, whichever came first. The job came first—right during the home stretch of meeting that deadline.

Nevertheless, I worked twelve days in two weeks averaging over 16 hours per day. I met the deadline. The project was a huge success. Everyone was elated with the outcome.

I gave my notice the next day.

My project coordinator couldn't figure out why I'd put in so many hours to assure the success of this project. She couldn't figure out why I wasn't slacking off on the job with "short-timers' disease." But what she didn't know was that I wasn't serving her but Christ my Husband, who is never a foolish ruler.

Which is also the reason I didn't work fourteen 16-hour days in two weeks.

"And God spake all these words… Remember the sabbath day, to keep it holy. Six days shalt thou labour, and do all thy work: but the seventh day is the sabbath of the Lord thy God: in it thou shalt not do any work, thou, nor thy son, nor thy daughter, thy manservant, nor thy maidservant, nor thy cattle, nor thy stranger that is within thy gates: for in six days the Lord made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that in them is, and rested the seventh day: wherefore the Lord blessed the sabbath day, and hallowed it." (Ex. 20:1a, 8-11)

My manager had already handed down a poor evaluation for me two months prior for being "unwilling to work on weekends." The one "weekend" I supposedly was unwilling to work, I had worked sixteen hours on Friday and another ten on Saturday. It was Sunday that I told them I was unavailable because it's the Lord's Day and my family would be attending worship together and resting.

Knowing that I was leaving the company and the state to move my family to Saint Peter, I was tempted to assume a laissez faire attitude toward the work. What're they going to do? Fire me? But that would have been disobedient to and dishonoring of my Head. After my poor performance evaluation, I was certainly tempted to work on Sundays to complete the project on time and please my boss. But, that wouldn't have been pleasing to my Boss.

Again, my project coordinator was totally confused on why she couldn't reach me all day on Sunday. But, again, what she didn't know was that I wasn't serving her but Christ my Husband, who is never a foolish ruler.

Jesus bid me labor six days and do all my work. And He bid me rest on the seventh day.

My children saw—and helped—my dear wife, Amy who is great with child, as she worked extra strenuously those two weeks because of my work schedule. And they saw me rest on Sunday. By obeying Christ; by working to please Him and not man, I was also teaching my children to obey their Husband by obeying me, even when I am the foolish ruler.

Amy had it more difficult than I did. As she served me, she was serving those who were over me. But she didn't work for them. They didn't pay her for her time. She had no recourse against them. No "open door" through which she could walk to air her grievances. She had a schedule imposed on her from someone to whom she was never called to submit. But, because she loves her Husband, she served her husband as he served his Husband by serving his boss.

So, in the midst of unpacking and learning the myriad ways to drive to Mendota from just about any exit off I-81, I write my first article for Every Thought Captive, in obedience to my new boss. But it's Christ who put me here, and Christ that I'm serving, even as I serve R. C.

Thank you, Sir. May I have another?

[Originally published in Every Thought Captive, Vol. 9, Issue 2; March/April 2005]

Posted by Jim Bob Howard to Thoughts at 9/30/2006 12:16:00 PM