01 Sep Work & Faith in the Daily Grind
When we think about our work we typically think of our vocation (job) and the required activity it takes to complete its mission-a lawyer doing litigation work, a server serving tables, a homemaker managing the household, a project leader coordinating a project team…you get the idea.
However as soon as we start using the word “mission,” I find things can get a little complicated. Mission of my job?…of my company?…mission trip?…missionary?…on mission? Beyond the word, it often represents the complexity & perceived dilemma of focusing on doing our day jobs well, while somehow combining it with living out our faith.
In meditating on this issue, the story of the Good Samaritan comes to mind. (If you’re not familiar with it, take a moment to read Luke 10:25-37). It’s especially pertinent as Jesus tells this parable in response to a religious expert challenging Him on how to live a life that pleases God. While there are a host of lessons, there are three I’d like to point out that shed light on the idea of mission in everyday life:
1. Mission is a heart and a mindset.
In looking at the three men in the story (the priest, the Levite, and the Samaritan), they’re very different, but also share some common characteristics. They’re all on the same path, they all see the man who had been robbed, and they’re all on their way to somewhere. However, what distinguishes the Samaritan from the others is that he saw AND “took pity on him” (v. 33) AND “went to him” (v. 34). It was not the Samaritan’s “weekly outreach,” or mission trip, or ministry program, or “his turn to serve.” It was his heart, mind, and actions that were ready to love his neighbor as soon as he saw the need.
2. Mission is discovering and living God’s plan, not yours.
As mentioned earlier, even though the text doesn’t share the planned destination of the three men, each of them was on a “mission” to somewhere. Interestingly, “religion” passes by on the other side of the road- staying safe, comfortable and on-schedule. In contrast, “true religion” sees the need, moves towards the wreckage, sacrifices and changes course entirely to live out the gospel.
The Samaritan bandages, cleans wounds, cares for the man at the inn for at least 24 hrs, and pays for lodging. Whatever agenda the Samaritan originally had in mind was completely blown up – at least for the next two days! I’ll be the first to admit this is a huge challenge. How often do I perceive these unexpected and seemingly random circumstances & needs as an annoyance, or even a threat, to my plans and my agenda, instead of seeing God’s divine hand at work and discovering His true plan (mission!) for my life?
3. Mission is having faith that you’re where you are for a reason and divinely equipped to live out your specific calling.
Was the Samaritan a good craftsman, wealthy merchant, great orator or skilled negotiator? Had he done a “strengths test” to see where he was uniquely gifted? We don’t know, and in this case it didn’t matter. He was faced with the opportunity and choice to selflessly love his neighbor and use whatever he had to meet the need – donkey, bandages, oil & wine, care at the inn, payment for the hotel room…time.
Often we feel intimidated by the need, ill-equipped for the mission, or overthink our involvement in it. Being on mission is trusting God that you’re where you are for a reason (even if it’s in undesirable circumstances), actively engaging the need right in front of you (even if it’s not the need you would have chosen), and trusting God for His equipping and enablement (even if it’s outside of your preferred “skill set”).
Remember, it’s not our mission…it’s God’s mission. We don’t get to choose. However we do get to choose if we’re going to orient our hearts toward it (to see AND have pity), direct our lives & actions by it (stop, re-direct our focus & energy to meet the need), and trust God to enable & equip us to accomplish it.