I learned very early on in life to do the best I could. My parents modelled that, and expected it. As I grew older, I figured out that God wanted my best too. Sometimes when you are working for people—teachers or bosses—you can wonder why you try so hard. Sometimes you feel like no one notices, or cares, or appreciates what you're doing, so you wonder why you bother. Colossians 3:23-24 has the answer to that. It says to work as though God is your boss. People may not always notice or appreciate your efforts, but God does, and it is honouring to Him when you give things your best. That's reason enough for me.
It's true that I don't always think that my best is good enough. I tend to be a bit of an idealist, and frankly I usually want things to be better than I can make them. But, over the years, I've become aware of my strengths and my weaknesses, and also learned how to accept that things will never be perfect on this side of heaven, even if I wish they could be. It helps to know I've done my best; I've made things as good as it is in my power to do.
There are many things that are not within my power, but working on my own character is. And like I said, I always want to be better. So when I come across advice on how to improve myself or anything else, I usually read (or listen to) it. Of course you can't count on all the advice you read to be helpful, but with experience comes discernment. This article by Carey Nieuwhof, written to people in their 20s, 30s and 40s from someone who is just turning 50, lists 25 pieces of advice to help you get to your best self sooner. When I read it, I thought it was excellent advice and worth sharing with you. So, follow this link and check it out.
Over the next several months, I will share a series of verses about building character.
Something I said in my last blog post (John 1:14, January 7) inspired me to look up Colossians 3:23-24. My question from the passage in John was how would it change your life if Jesus moved in next door? Colossians 3:23 tells us that it doesn’t matter what we are doing, or what human person asked us to do it, we are really working for God.
From the previous verse we see that this passage refers to slaves working for their masters, but in today’s context the principle would apply just as well to employees, children and students. How do you react when your boss asks you to do something that isn’t technically in your job description, or you feel is beneath you? What is a child’s usual response when asked to clean his room? What about students who let other members of the group carry the load on a group project? Would it make a difference if Jesus had asked you to do it? It’s true; your boss’ motives may not be as pure, selfless and forward-thinking as Jesus’ are, but her authority still needs to be respected.
Verse 23 also tells us to work with enthusiasm. The King James version uses the term heartily; the original Greek means from the soul. Now think about this for a minute. When you are doing the dishes or the laundry or taking out the trash, are you doing it with enthusiasm? These are not the most glamourous tasks, but they deserve the best of your ability. They may seem like thankless jobs, because there’s a good chance that no one ever says thank you for doing them, but the Lord will reward you. When you are working for Him, what others think won’t matter to you.
You may not get a raise or promotion by working those overtime hours when your boss asks you to at the last minute. You may not get an A on that group assignment, or a bonus in your allowance for cleaning up your room. Earthly rewards are not always fair or reliable. Sometimes you get praise for what others have done, and sometimes you don’t get the praise you deserve. Sometimes it seems like your efforts are quickly forgotten. God doesn’t forget. Your reward from God will not be based on the amount of talent you have, or how popular you are, or how much money you earned. The reward He gives you will be for your attitude and your faithfulness. Did you give God your very best effort? Jesus will be doing your final performance review; are you ready?