My son and I have a discussion on repeat.
“Did you clean your room?”
“Are you sure it’s clean?”
“I think so.”
Then I walk in, and with a quick scour notice a mixture of legos, dirty socks and paper airplanes still remaining under his bed.
Today, I changed the flow from the usual “you’re not doing such-and-such until you do a good job with this first.”
Instead, I asked him, “Do you know that God is watching you, in everything you do, and that he even cares about how well you clean your room? That to do things quickly and without care is not doing your best for God?”
“No, I didn’t know mom. Let me try again.”
So often, kids are assured that if they can win a gold medal or make the Top 40 and point a finger up to the sky, or declare it’s “all for God’s glory,” then they’ve really done something. I spent (or wasted?) a few good years of my life going after that very promise--that the best thing I could do for God was get fame. (For me, it was to make it into Dance Spirit magazine--which I did, twice.)
But is that really what Paul was thinking about when he told the Colossians to do their best, as though doing it unto the Lord (Col. 3:23)? I don’t think so. The context is the home, and then the workplace. It’s making the bed and stocking the shelves and building someone’s deck.
“Children, obey your parents in everything, for this is your acceptable duty in the Lord...
Slaves, obey your earthly masters, in everything, not only while being watched and in order to please them, but wholeheartedly, fearing the Lord. Whatever your task, put yourselves into it, as done for the Lord...”
The reality of the context is that Paul is talking to slaves. Sociological equivalent: employees. Employees need to understand that it’s not just their boss (master) who is paying attention to their work, but also the Lord.
What if we all did our jobs--unexciting as they may be, for we all have grownup versions of cleaning underneath the bed--wholeheartedly? Not only while someone is watching, but always, because the Lord is watching? So many days would go so much better. It would not only affect the attention we pay to the task, but the attitude by which we do it and the care we put into the person being served.
The other day I met a Rwandan refugee working in the grocery store. I asked him where the worcestershire sauce was. Of course he didn’t understand, because I can’t pronounce that word. After he kindly told me that he was new to this country, he walked me to another employee. But he didn’t leave me there. He accompanied us both to the location of the darned sauce, learned the word, practiced saying it himself, and asked me what it could be used for (my husband’s burger seasoning, in case you’re wondering). He greeted my children, ensured that we had visited the store’s “kids club” where they could find snacks, and offered to help me take my bags to the car. He was a wholehearted worker, and he told me--it was because of the Lord. “I am a Christian, and the Lord has done so much for me. I don’t have family left, because of the genocide, but he’s made a way for me. I am so happy to be in this country, and to meet believers that I can worship with.” It would have been easy enough for him to say, “I don’t know where that is.” But he didn’t. He learned alongside me so that he could do an even better job than he was already doing, because he knew God was watching.
Whatever your task, put yourselves into it, as unto the Lord.
Now for a negative. That same son whom I require to make his bed was at a friend’s house. They were playing cars on their deck, which is on the second story of their new home. With one small shove of the car from his (at the time) six-year-old hands, the balusters of the balcony came right off of the platform. The mother, my dear friend, began checking if all of the balusters were that flimsily built. They were. The builder used nails instead of screws, and as she softly hit her hands against them, almost all of them came out of joint. Had the children tripped, or simply leaned back while playing, they would have fallen straight off the second story balcony.
Scary? No. Terrifying.
What happened? I imagine it had something to do with, “No one is watching. I don’t know these people.” When the homeowners called the man who built it, he never answered.
My husband reinforced every board, and after inspecting the structure, more safely attached the deck to the house itself. But he didn’t just do this because it was our friends’ home. He does it every time he builds a deck. He knows how he would like a job done, and considers others as deserving as he is of a job well done. It’s a task--and one our society doesn’t even value too highly. But no matter the pay grade we receive, if we believe that God is watching, and we should serve him with our whole heart, the world will be a safer, kinder, cleaner place. Isn’t that what we all want?
So while the Olympians go viral for giving God the glory for all of their hard work earning that medal, I am more proud of the people around me who go the extra mile at the jobs that go under-appreciated. Stocking the shelves, filling the waters, buildings the decks, collecting the garbage, distributing the mail--God is watching. Fear him, and receive an ample reward: the confidence to say with Paul (a tent-maker): “I serve the Lord Christ.”