This morning our pastor continued his study in 1st. Timothy. We landed in Chapter 6, verses 1 and 2. The issue is slaves and most pastors, at least as long as I've been going to church, have tied this to modern day employment. My pastor was no exception. Only this time, it hit very close to home and made me face something I had already known.
Why I lost my job.
1 Timothy 6:1-2
Let all who are under a yoke as slaves regard their own masters as worthy of all honor, so that the name of God and the teaching may not be reviled. Those who have believing masters must not be disrespectful on the ground that they are brothers; rather they must serve all the better since those who benefit by their good service are believers and beloved.
The more the pastor got into this the more convicted I became. Basically, we are to work as to the Lord. No problem, I usually am a good employee. I do my job well, get my assignments done on time and with a high level of competence. So far, so good.
Just like it says in Colossians 3:17...
And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.
But then he started asking if we'd ever bad-mouthed our employers? Had a bad attitude against managment? Uh...yeah. I have. Not so much my immediate supervisors but definitely against the corporation or agency I worked for.
Then he got the part in 1 Timothy that talked about "so that the name of God and the teaching may not be reviled."
When the doors closed to any youth ministry opportunities I got mad at God for I thought that's where He wanted me. Instead I got my old job back and was promoted to Chief Pilot. Two years later, I went to work for the Forest Service and everyone was telling me how blessed I was that God smile on me and gave me a good job. I agreed but deep down inside I truly wondered if this was were I was supposed to be. But godly people whose opinion I respected and trusted seemed to think otherwise. I accepted their opinion and jumped into the job whole-heartedly.
And while I was a good employee...I wasn't a good example of a Christian employee. I tweaked Paul's admonition to be "all things to all men" to excuse laughing and and telling crude jokes, using language I knew wasn't appropriate for the situation (ie: cussing), and, when in conversation, not speaking out my views based on my faith. I couched them in "nice" terms but not convicting terms. My rationale? I had to work with these people for the next 20 years and didn't want to be known as the Bible thumper or "don't say that around Eric, we might offend God". I'd been through that crap in school and really didn't want to go there.
(In all honesty, I'm a little more eloquent and not as brusk as I was in the past.)
Regardless of my excuses, bottom line was I wasn't living my faith. I was one thing at church or around Christians and another at work. The very thing I told myself, way back in High School, that I never wanted to be. When I was suspended, the implications of what I had become hit me like a two-by-four across the head.
My heart broke in shame.
In the three months of my suspension God has dealt with me, opening up my eyes to my hypocrisy and sometimes the shame is overwhelming. I could blame it on the ADHD but that wouldn't be totally correct. Yes, the ADHD has it's affect but I knew, consciously knew, what I was doing. And yet, like Paul said, "I do the things I do not want to do and I don't do the things I wish to do." I think Paul was speaking not only of himself but of man throughout history. Our intentions may be good and honorable but who was it that said "the road to hell is paved with good intentions"?
So here I am. One month from being unemployed...again. A job opportunity hanging in the wind. A choice to make whether to fly for a living or talk for a living. Regardless of which direction I go, I still have a decision to make. Follow Paul's directions to Timothy in regards to being a Christian and an employee or try to justify being quiet about my faith and hoping my life will show who I am? But if my life isn't showing who I really am, how will anyone know to ask why I am different? (Just for the record, I'm not one to go about bashing people at work over the head with my Bible. To me, taking work time to witness steals from my employer and makes a bad impression on my employer about who and what a Christian is supposed to be. There are opportunities outside of work to relate the gospel to my fellow co-workers...someday I should try it!)
40-years-old and still a work in progress...when am I supposed to work on life's issues and resolve them? A counselor friend of mine told my mother that "...if life's issues were not worked on by the time one is 40, God will cause it to happen."
I think I write Greg and ask him what he meant...