Working with a full amount of enthusiasm is often difficult to do no matter the project and sometimes even difficult to do when excitement about the task abounds. Oliver Wendell Holmes said,
It is faith in something and enthusiasm for something that makes a life worth living.
We, as Christians, can certainly insert God in the place of the word “something”, [it is faith in “God” and enthusiasm for “God” that makes a life worth living], but does that increase the fervor for which we complete the task? I would not discount that working for God makes our life worth living for it is the only reason that we live. But do we always complete our work with enthusiasm?
I would like to say yes if I am doing a task specifically that would be God related then I am on full steam with a passion for the project however if I said that I would be not telling the truth. I have volunteered for tasks through church and other organizationsÂ that were not designed for me, didn’t use my spiritual gifts at all, and it was a disaster. Sometimes we over extend ourselves trying to earn the title of Super Christian and are so worn out that we begin to resent the time we are spending working for God. If we are resenting the work we certainly are not working with enthusiasm to complete the task.
I found myself in this situation about 14 years ago. We had just moved and I certainly wanted to fit in with my new community and church. I joined the choir, I offered to play the piano, I offered to help with Sunday school, I offered to help with the children’s choirs, andÂ if a position opened in the church I was filling it. Pretty soon it was well-known that if you needed something done at the church you could just call E.J. because she would do it. I didn’t know how to say no and this extended beyond the church to the local school. I was on every committee that there was and if announced “we need somebody to…” my hand shot up like it was out of control. I was at the church and school so much people thought I was a paid employee. Did you notice the pronoun used consistently as I tell this story? Yes, it is the selfish pronoun of “I”. I couldn’t say no because what would people think? This was not about the glory of God this was about my glory. I wanted people to recognize me for my work. I wanted the pat on the back. I thought I was well on my way to earn the title of Super Christian.
Well needless to say all my over extensions began to wreak havoc on me, my family and all began to resent it even myself. This was especially true for tasks that no one really cared about. It seemed sometimes I was doing a job that didn’t matter as it made no difference to anyone and those jobs were the hardest to complete. However once you get involved like that it is hard to just say no or to back out gracefully. There was no enthusiasm for any of my jobs as they had all become to be drudgery; another task to perform, another place to go, and most often with my children in tow.
So God provided a way out as He often does and suddenly we were moving again. As we settled into our new home, church, and community I firmly absolved not to get involved again so I didn’t. Unfortunately I went to the opposite end of the spectrum and refused to get involved. I was too busy I would plead. I would do my rotation for the children’s Sunday school but not with any enthusiasm. When calls for help came forth I would hang my head, avert my eyes, and hope someone would step up and accept the call because I didn’t want to get involved as I had burnout. That didn’t really solve my issues either as now I had no connection to anything, no sense of belonging, or no enthusiasm past my own selfish desires. I had to find balance because in both cases I had lost God along the way. I was living my life for me and even that had no enthusiasm.
Somewhere during my travels in both scenarios God disappeared from the tasks. I was selfishly working for myself or just for other people and neither held a place for enthusiasm in the job. So if we take Holmes quote and insert “me” we clearly see how it will not make sense and there is no purpose. [It is faith in “me” and enthusiasm for “me” that makes a life worth living.] When we accept a job where God is not the primary focus then we are lessening not only our lives but everyone else’s life too. I would contend that we have to practice placing God at the center of our lives and the center of our jobs no matter their difficulty, worth, or meaning.
All of this leads us to this week’s focus verse about doing work with enthusiasm for God.
So, my dear brothers and sisters, be strong and immovable. Always work enthusiastically for the Lord, for you know that nothing you do for the Lord is ever useless. (NLT)
Building Strong Enthusiasm in All Jobs
Paul tells us that nothing we do for the Lord is ever useless and this is because of the resurrection of Jesus Christ. Because of all that Christ has done for us we now have eternal life and we should want to share that knowledge with the entire world so not only can our world here be bettered but so all can have eternal life. As we think about the word “work” we must come to understand that all work we do is work for the Lord. As we subscribe to the knowledge that God loves us unconditionally and that He made each and every one of us for a reason, a specific purpose and that all we have belongs to him then anything we do is work for the Lord.
I haven’t always understood this but as I have grown in my relationship with God I have grown to understand that everything I have is a gift to me from God. Now the naysayers are going to argue that I was the one who worked for what I have and yes I may have completed the physical labor but under what authority was I able to do that task? Whether granted physically or mentally God has gifted each of us with different abilities.What we chose to do with those abilities is where the granted gift of freewill is seen and the puppet master concept disappears. For the other group of naysayers that contend that God isn’t fair because some people do not have essential things such as food and clothing then we must remind them that God has granted us with many different abilities and we are to share that gift with others so all will have what they need. Unfortunately we have become selfish and want to keep what we are given in storehouses for our own use and therefore there has been a deficient created that caused others to have little or none.
As we contemplate the idea, that everything belongs to God and therefore all work we do is a task for the Lord allow me to share one of my favorite books that I have read that really helped me understand this better, The Practice of the Presence of God by Brother Lawrence. If you have not read this book I highly urge you to do so. It is a little book written over 300 years ago by a Carmelite lay-brother. Brother Lawrence learned and then shared the greatest secret of living which is that “practicing the presence of God” is a lifelong continued act that never ends. He contends that all work is for the Lord whether it is doing the dishes or serving a need in the church it all needs to be completed as if you were serving God himself for when we serve others or take care of what God has given us we are glorifying God and we can serve that job with enthusiasm.
When we put this idea to practice we will find that our work takes on a greater enthusiasm and we will want the work to be completed well. We can see this idea in the scripture of Nehemiah 4:6 as the people worked with enthusiasm to finish the town wall. They did not lose faith or give up hope they maintained themselves with the courage God gave them to complete the task. If we keep our faith strong keeping our eye on God we will be able to finish our tasks easier and keep our enthusiasm particularly when the job is something in the outside world like building walls, tackling loads of laundry, or a mountain of dishes.
If our faith provides our courage then we can keep moving forward even in the face of adversity. Winston Churchill said,
Courage is going from failure to failure without losing enthusiasm.
We must remember that God’s ways are not always our ways and sometimes even the tasks in which we feel God has directed us to complete may meet with failure or may seem unimportant or useless. We do not see the big picture and we must maintain our faith that all jobs for God are important whether we receive a pat on the back or recognition of any kind. God sees our heart and the job we are to do is to glorify Him not us. Our enthusiasm must be maintained as if God himself was the direct recipient of the task at hand. (Ephesians 6:7) If we keep this in mind then we will always serve the Lord with enthusiasm. (Romans 12:11)
I have learned my lesson over the years and I know that the Lord has not tasked me to single-handedly run the church or any organization because I know that not only must I use the spiritual gifts and talents God has granted me with but that everything I do is to glorify the Lord. It is not about me. As I balance my workload agreements I keep this in mind and pray to stay strong and moving forward. We must remember water turns into steam with only one degree of difference in temperature and steam (enthusiasm) can move some pretty big machines and make things happen no matter how large or small the task is. So we should never allow one degree to keep great things from happening.
May you keep God in your presence this week completing your tasks by honoring and glorifying God with enthusiasm for you never know you may just experience an Everyday Opportunity.
Love in Christ,
I will be looking for ways to glorify God this summer while I clean with enthusiasm out the mess in our garage and basement that I feel for sure Satan helped create.
What are your thoughts?
Have you attempted to be a super Christian volunteering for every position at your church? Have you found yourself in a job that is difficult and it seems that no one really cares about? Do you get easily frustrated when a task seems overwhelming? Have you seen a difference when God is the recipient or focus of a task instead of others? Please join us in discussion
Lawrence, B. (1982). The Practice of the Presence of God. New Kensington, PA: Whitaker House.