Who You Work For Shouldn’t Affect How Hard You Work

When I was in college I had a couple of professor’s that I really worked hard for. First, because they expected a lot and graded “hard,” but second, because I respected them. I wanted to earn their respect.

On the other hand, there were a few classes that I took outside my major that I didn’t value at all. One class, in particular, was a complete joke. The professor was a push over. Few assignments were graded and our final exam was open note.

Since I didn’t respect the professor or the set up of the course, I didn’t work hard. In fact, I hardly worked. I didn’t do the weekly reading—I didn’t even buy the book. I took few notes in class, but put together enough of a study sheet to coast through the final exam and still receive an “A.”

Two different kinds of professors, two different work ethics.

Yet, while the grades were the same, the learning was not.

Wait a minute—isn’t that what college is supposed to be about? Learning? Not grades. Not the respect of respected professors—but my learning.

In 1 Peter 2:18, the apostle instructs Christian slaves to submit to their masters and serve them with all respect, essentially, whether they deserve it or not.

18 Slaves, submit yourselves to your masters with all respect, not only to those who are good and considerate, but also to those who are harsh.”

Peter is not condoning or condemning slavery, he’s simply shepherding believers who happen to be slaves. His instruction to slaves is an example of a specific application to the exhortations he has already given in verses 12 and 17, where he instructs believers to live “such good lives among the pagans” and to “show proper respect to everyone.”

Peter says, submit to your masters and serve them whether they deserve your respect or not. Whether they mistreat you or not.

How might we apply this passage to our lives today?

We must look for a universal principle that can be applied to a myriad of contexts:

Who you work for shouldn’t affect how hard you work.

If that’s your boss, your customer, your teacher. Whether or not they are competent, arrogant or abusive.

As Paul said in Colossians 3:23 (when he addressed slaves), “Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for men.”

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Aliens, Strangers & Jesus Freaks

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jesus freakWhen I was growing up, I was a little bit like a chameleon. I took on slightly different personalities depending on who I was around. I appeared different, depending upon where I was. I tried to “blend in” to my surroundings, because I wanted to fit in.

Motivated by my insecurities, I spent a lot of time pretending to be someone I wasn’t. One of the dangers, though, is that if you pretend long enough, you start to morph into that person you are pretending to be.

No doubt the worst environment I was in was on the bus to and from school. The Bus offers a unique educational “opportunity” as kids of all ages, Kindergarten up to 12th grade, are concentrated in close quarters, supervised only by a singular adult who, by the way, has to maneuver this monstrosity through traffic (many times in bad weather) and has to execute the bus route.

As a result, conversations go unmonitored, and kids openly talk about all kinds of things they shouldn’t. Not only is the content of conversation, so is the way that kids talk to one another. Put-downs, threats, cursing, etc. Kids try to act tough, they try to act more grown up than they are, and they certainly don’t want to come off as weak or juvenile.

So, when I was on the bus, that’s the way I acted. I talked about things I didn’t really know anything about. I talked a big talk, I tried my best to present myself as a tough guy, and as a result said a lot of mean things to people to try to fit in. In my mind it was a “dog eat dog” world and I needed to act like a dog to survive.

But the reality was that I didn’t fit in, at least, I shouldn’t have. That’s not who I was. But it was who I was becoming. See, instead of being true to myself, I started to change who I was to fit into the mold of that environment.

In the book of 1 Peter, Peter is addressing a group of believers who are struggling to fit in. They have been marginalized by society, they are beginning to experience persecution. As a result, Peter addresses them as “aliens and strangers.” However, this designation isn’t merely descriptive… its actually prescriptive.

1 Peter 2:11 says, Dear friends, I urge you, as aliens and strangers in the world, to abstain from sinful desires, which war against your soul. Live such good lives among the pagans that, though they accuse you of doing wrong, they may see your good deeds and glorify God on the day he visits.

Peter exhorts them to live as aliens and strangers. He invites them to embrace this identity. He doesn’t want them to “fit in” with the rest of society…he wants them to stand out!

Peter’s address for these Christians as “aliens and strangers” is akin to the DC Talk song from way back in 1995, “Jesus Freak.” The lyrics ask:

What will people think when they hear that I’m a Jesus Freak?

What will people do when they find out its true?

I don’t really care if they label me a Jesus Freak.

There ain’t no disguising the truth.

Just like Peter did with “aliens and strangers,” DC talk took something that was a derogative term, “Jesus Freak,” and embraced it.

Pay Attention

As my wife can attest, I’m not the most observant person in the world. Case in point…While we were dating, we attended a small country church, that probably averaged around 20-25 each week. One Sunday morning I got up in the middle of the service to use the restroom during the singing. When I returned I walked down the aisle, found my wife-to-be, stood next to her, and resumed singing. There was just one problem–I wasn’t standing next to my wife! In fact, I had walked past my wife into the pew in front, and stood next to another young lady of similar size and almost identical hair (and, ironically, had the same first name). It just so happened that this young lady grew up in this church, so her entire family had a good laugh at my expense. Actually, there were probably only a few there that day who didn’t witness my blunder!

The Author of Hebrews warns us of the importance of paying attention, though the stakes are much higher than suffering a little embarrassment.

In Hebrews 2:1, he writes:

“1 We must pay more careful attention, therefore, to what we have heard, so that we do not drift away. 2 For if the message spoken by angels was binding, and every violation and disobedience received its just punishment, 3 how shall we escape if we ignore such a great salvation? This salvation, which was first announced by the Lord, was confirmed to us by those who heard him. 4 God also testified to it by signs, wonders and various miracles, and gifts of the Holy Spirit distributed according to his will.”

These verses serve as an exhorting conclusion for everything he had written in chapter one, where he wrote about how God is now speaking to us through His Son. In the past God spoke to us through the prophets, but now it is through the Son of God himself (1:1)! Just as this mediator between God and man is superior to all other mediators (prophets, angels, priests), his message and his ministry is superior to theirs as well!

Therefore, we must pay more careful attention! As Hebrews 3:12-14 says:

12 See to it, brothers, that none of you has a sinful, unbelieving heart that turns away from the living God. 13 But encourage one another daily, as long as it is called Today, so that none of you may be hardened by sin’s deceitfulness. 14 We have come to share in Christ if we hold firmly till the end the confidence we had at first.