SERMON from 1-15-12: Unstuck in Your Field Part 2 of 5

 

 

Ecclesiastes 2.18-26

18 I hated all my toil in which I had toiled under the sun, seeing that I must leave it to those who come after me 19 —and who knows whether they will be wise or foolish? Yet they will be master of all for which I toiled and used my wisdom under the sun. This also is vanity. 20 So I turned and gave my heart up to despair concerning all the toil of my labors under the sun, 21 because sometimes one who has toiled with wisdom and knowledge and skill must leave all to be enjoyed by another who did not toil for it. This also is vanity and a great evil. 22 What do mortals get from all the toil and strain with which they toil under the sun? 23 For all their days are full of pain, and their work is a vexation; even at night their minds do not rest. This also is vanity. 24 There is nothing better for mortals than to eat and drink, and find enjoyment in their toil. This also, I saw, is from the hand of God; 25 for apart from him who can eat or who can have enjoyment? 26 For to the one who pleases him God gives wisdom and knowledge and joy; but to the sinner he gives the work of gathering and heaping, only to give to one who pleases God. This also is vanity and a chasing after wind.

 

Unstuck in Your Field

Last week, we discussed how to become unstuck in your finances.  It was about knowing where you are financially, having a plan where you want to go, and–this is important–trusting God in the midst of it.  I am going to give you a hint that for the rest of this series, the main answer to the question of how you are going to get unstuck in your life is trusting God–or some variation on that theme.

It’s like I am giving a glorified children’s sermon.  The answer to any question given in a children’s sermon is either God or Jesus, right?  I am not saying that you all have the minds of children, but maybe there is a point to Jesus’ words when it comes to faith like a little child.

Today, we are talking about how we become unstuck in our field–or, our jobs.  Some of us have careers.  Some of us have jobs.  However, all of us have something we do.  It only seems appropriate that we are talking about our work and being Christians today, because I get to bring in something that is a hot topic right now.  If I were to ask you–and I am–who would you say is the most famous working Christian right now?  (pause for guesses)  Tim Tebow, right?  I say that the subject of Tim Tebow is a hot topic right now because not only has his NFL team made it to the playoffs (writing this before Saturday, I do not know if they are still alive), but his style of play and overt Christianity have made him a lightning-rod for commentary.

For the purposes of full disclosure, I have spent some time in the last couple of months discussing Tim Tebow on my social media accounts–most of it of a critical nature.  I am not a fan of Tim Tebow.  Partly, because a fluke play gave his team a narrow victory over my Bears earlier in the season.  Mostly, however, because of Jesus’ words in Matthew 6.5.  Essentially, Jesus says that our prayers should be made to glorify God, not to be seen by men.  So, our personal spiritual offerings to God should be seen by the world as more “wait, what was that guy doing” than “look at that gigantic cross around that guys neck.”

It’s tough for Tim.  Forgive the pun, but my armchair quarterback perspective tells me that he desires to give God glory for his success on the football field.  But, his role as a prominent public figure requires a greater level of responsibility.  His signature move has made his last name into a verb.  Anyone know what it means to “Tebow?”  After a score or a win, Tebow kneels and prays.  (demonstrate)  People are doing it all over the place and it has even been mocked on Saturday Night Live.  I guess what I am saying is that I would not do it like Tim Tebow is doing it, but I am not him and am not the final authority on who gets to do what in what way.

What I can say for Tim is that he seems to have no fear about what it is he is doing with his witness to the faith.  That kind of fearlessness is needed in the church today, because we have a job to do and we need to be–in some ways–fearless in our attempts reach the world with the gospel.

I guess my point for what we are talking about today is that Tim Tebow is a good example of what it looks like to not be stuck in your field.  While it comes in different forms and affects people in different ways, I think being stuck in our field is a lot like those commercials for the energy supplement, 5-hour Energy.  The first commercials you saw for this product start with people at their jobs.  Some are staring lifelessly at the clock.  There is one guy who is leaning on his hand and trying to sleep.  Have you ever been in a situation like that at your job, or any place else?  Trying to sleep on your hand can be one of the most uncomfortable experiences.  Your hand may fall asleep.  Your arm may fall asleep.  Your hand and arm may fall asleep.  Then, you wake up with a groggy headache and that handprint on the side of your face, right?  The advertisers call it “that 2:30 feeling.”  All of the sudden, the commercial shows the different attempts for workers to stay awake.  Coffee.  A can of soda.  On of those skinny cans that resembles a Red Bull, but isn’t due to copyright law.  The cure is supposed to be the liquid in this little bottle (show the bottle in your pocket).  All is better and you are supposed to be refreshed to finish the day strong.

Being stuck in your job–I think–is a lot like those images of the workers before 5-hour Energy.  Only, you may or may not be all that physically tired, but it can be feel a whole lot worse.

So, how do we get unstuck in our field?  First, you should make God your boss.  We can compartmentalize our lives so well, can’t we?  This part of our lives is different from that part.  In our finances, we think that the business of making money is one thing and our stewardship of that is another.  We give our 10%–or something like that–and do with the rest what we choose.  However, we learned last week that God needs to be at the center of that part of our lives just like God should be at the center of all other parts of our lives.  In our field, we have a boss, coworkers and assigned areas that we work in.  However, that is no reason we have to keep God out of that part of our lives.

Think of your job as something you do for God, and do it for him.  If you are doing it for God, then what you do has spiritual significance and value.  When you do your job for God, there are consequences for our actions.  Consider the Great Commandment: love God and love your neighbor.  Do your job for God out of the love you have for him.  AND, act with a servants heart towards your coworkers.  This, of course, is difficult because our coworkers aren’t always easy to love.  They grate on us.  They can stand in the way of doing our job.  They can compete with us.  They may be the reason we think we feel stuck in our field.  It’s tough.  However, what if we stopped thinking of them as coworkers we compete with, and see them as fellow humans who need to see and feel the love of God through us.  Making God our boss makes us see our responsibilities in a whole new light.

Second, separate who you are from what you do.  Imagine you are at a party.  You are introduced to someone and you shake their hand.  Within the first few sentences, you have probably identified yourself by name and your job–what it is you do.  This is not uncommon at parties and in life.  So much of who we are can be tied up in what it is we do to make a living.  We can be so busy that it feels like that is the only thing we do.  When we lose who we are in the gravity of what we have given to what it means to do what we do, we can lose who we are.  We may be a mother, father, brother, sister or spouse.  Most importantly, we are children and the creation of God Almighty.  Ephesians says–depending upon the translation of the Bible you are reading–that you are God’s masterpiece.  You were crafted by the hand of God to be his child.  That’s so awesome a thing to think about, but we don’t lead with that in our party conversation.  I could imagine Tim Tebow leading with that at a party, but most of us don’t.

We are not what it is that we do for a living, and we need to remind ourselves of that.  How does that happen?  We need to unplug.  We need a–wait for it–a sabbath.  We need to observe that historically biblical tradition and apply it to our lives as a way to remember that we are more than what we do from nine to five, Monday to Friday–or probably more.  This sabbath isn’t only a break from work, but also a time to reconnect with God in order to remember who we are in him–a masterpiece.  It sounds hokey and oddly self-serving, but you should also plug into a weekly discipleship group–like Sunday school or another type of Bible study.  This gives you an opportunity to meet with others for support and further discovery into this amazing deity who made us a masterpiece.

Thirdly, we need to be faithful in the small things.  How many of us feel like our jobs don’t matter?  How many feel like the jobs we are assigned don’t mean much?  This is something we need change.  1) We don’t know how God will choose to use us in this particular situation.  2) Just as God loves a cheerful giver, he loves a cheerful worker.  We can be willing to be faithful in whatever it is we do, and remembering that whatever it is that we do, we are doing for God.

While the final point flows out of the last point, it is still important.  We should choose to persevere.  In case you haven’t noticed, there are plenty of people around who would love to have a job, and don’t.  Unfortunately, however much that should motivate us to be our best when it comes to our jobs, sometimes we just feel stuck.  However, that should not stop us from persevering.  It is so much easier to say than it is to do.

I am going to share a personal story about persevering.  I was still a young pastor (many of you raising your eyebrows at the irony of that statement).  I was serving a church where a small portion of the congregation had lost confidence in my ability to lead.  As much as the ministry is looked upon differently as a “profession,” the pressures and stress a pastor can feel is just the same as you would experience in your job.  It was hard.  There was backbiting, gossip, undermining of authority.  I was devastated.  Though it was only a small group of people, we all know that the few bad apples can spoil our individual bunch.  I had to dig deep within me to gather myself and see my way through that hardship.  It was only through God’s faithfulness to me that I made it through that rough patch.

And so, we come back to where it is we began.  Trusting God.  Making him our boss.  Remembering that we are masterpieces created by him.  Being faithful in ALL it is we may have to do and persevering through it all with his help.  That is the only we get unstuck in our field.  The trouble we have at work is a reality of existing for whatever length of time with a diverse group of human beings.  How we can get unstuck and make it through is entirely up to our ability to lean upon him and his unchanging and unrelenting grace.  And thanks be to him for that.

AMEN.

One comment on “SERMON from 1-15-12: Unstuck in Your Field Part 2 of 5

  1. Mount Sermons from Christ
    January 6, 2013 at 8:59 PM #

    Yes! If we want to make it through, we need to trust Him, and not be scared to lean on him.

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