The Scripture for today is Ephesians 6: 5-9 Slaves, obey your earthly masters with respect and fear, and with sincerity of heart, just as you would obey Christ. Obey them not only to win their favor when their eye is on you, but as slaves of Christ, doing the will of God from your heart. Serve wholeheartedly, as if you were serving the Lord, not people, because you know that the Lord will reward each one for whatever good they do, whether they are slave or free.
And masters, treat your slaves in the same way. Do not threaten them, since you know that he who is both their Master and yours is in heaven, and there is no favoritism with him.
I vividly remember my first job. I was fourteen years old and worked at Bruno’s Little Italy, an Italian restaurant in Little Rock, AR. Most of the time, I bussed tables. Bussing tables is not glamorous work. I didn’t really enjoy cleaning up soiled dishes and linens, wiping down the table and booth or worst of all, cleaning up after a tiny tot’s spaghetti dinner. That job required plenty of elbow grease – it is amazing how much spaghetti ended up heaped on the floor and smeared all over the high chair, not to mention on the little person. However, to the waiter or waitress whose tips provided their livelihood, it was critical that I do a good job and do it quickly so that the table could be sat with another group of paying customers. At the end of a long night of bussing, my feet ached, I smelled faintly of marinara sauce and to be honest, I just wanted to go home and tumble into bed. Although the work was tiring and demanding, the servers that I bussed tables for were kind and generous. In exchange for helping keep their tables clean and ready as soon as possible, they shared a small percentage of the tips they received. For a fourteen year old kid working for the first time, this was a very good example of the importance of team work, cooperation and service. In addition, the family that owned the restaurant was kind, generous, and compassionate. Our evening shifts began with a freshly prepared meal served family style. Patience and courtesy were modeled – even when things didn’t go smoothly or mistakes were made by the employees. Discipline was administered fairly – you were held accountable to do your work, however, they never berated their employees.
As I reflected back on Delton’s teaching on Sunday and thought about the “slave and master” relationship that the apostle Paul taught the early church, I realized how my early experiences as a teenager working for the first time illustrated this relationship. My job was to work hard (even when no one was looking); to demonstrate respect for the customers, my co-workers and employers; and to follow the directions that I was given. My employers’ job was to treat me with kindness, administer discipline fairly, and to pay the wage that was promised.
I have had many jobs since that first one and find that this wise and practical teaching has applied to all of them. I have been in leadership roles as well as subordinate roles. I have had glamorous jobs and jobs that weren’t so glamorous. As a Christ-follower, I can’t control the actions of those around me but I can respect my employer and submit my will to their authority. I can have a sincere heart that genuinely desires their success and that of the rest of the organization. I can serve with joy and gladness, remembering that I have the privilege as a child of God to serve my Lord each day in my home and vocation. I can seek opportunities to mentor, counsel, comfort, serve, and teach others in addition to my professional duties.
Father, I ask you today to bless the work of my hands. Give me a servant heart to love and encourage others; wisdom and discernment to determine where you are working and where I might join you; energy and enthusiasm to carry out my duties to the very best of my ability and humility to honor and obey those placed in authority over me. I ask these things in the precious name of Jesus. Amen