Two weeks before Ruth Ellen and I were married, I was told by Pizza Hut that I could no longer work there due to the fact that I had received two traffic violations in the past year. Of course, both of them were from rolling through a stop sign while working overtime. But there was nothing that my manager could do.
I then found a job working for Subway that lasted a day and a half. But after my manager publicly humiliated me for putting four black olives on a six-inch sub as opposed to two (and threatening to cut my salary in half to pay for my doubling the olives), for twisting the mop head once instead of three times before ringing it out, charged me fifty cents every time I wanted a drink, and would not let me bring my book bag to work after school for fear that I would steal food, I just could not take it anymore. Plus, after the second day, I still had not finished paying off my work hat and uniform. So I was then jobless once again.
My next job was cleaning carpets for $5.50 an hour. And this was our only income for the first nine months of marriage.
Finally, we moved out to Denver to help start NorthField Church. Of course, being a Bible major, I was not exactly qualified for many well paying jobs. So after a month of unemployment, I finally landed a job selling Kirby vacuums. But then a month after that, I realized that my paychecks were being returned due to insufficient funds in my boss’s account. He tried to offer me another check. And I, of course, objected due to the fact that the new check would bounce as well. So he offered the brilliant solution of giving me twenty dollars in cash until he could borrow enough money to pay me my month’s worth of work.
So once again, I found myself searching for a job. And after another month of unemployment, I decided to start my own carpet cleaning business. This went well for two days until my newly purchased 1988 GMC Jimmy broke down, needing over $2000 worth of repairs. So after borrowing a few vehicles, I finally decided to buy a 1998 Dodge Grand Caravan. This was our fifth vehicle in the past year.
Business began to pick up. And all was going well until one day, while we were on vacation to see my sister-in-law graduate, the van was stolen. A month later, the police found the van torched, smashed, with no ignition, and with bullet holes in the windshield. Then the police-appointed tow truck driver parked the van the wrong direction, which resulted in three parking violations. And if all that wasn’t enough, a week later the tires were stolen, and a few days after that it was shot by a paintball gun. Then, to my dismay, I was told by my insurance company that the van was covered for accidents, but not for theft. And to this day, I still owe $3500 on the van that I no longer have. This, of course, all resulted in another month of unemployment.
So I again began searching for a job. And finally, I landed the job of a lifetime…cleaning toilets for a church and school an hour and a half away from where I live. This job lasted until a few weeks ago, when I was told that they could no longer afford to pay me $10.50 an hour due to the costs of their building project.
And thus, I sit here tonight, once again, unemployed, looking for a job. Ironic isn’t it, that I would begin my blog with the intention of doing a series on “Living Worship In the Workplace,” only to find myself looking for a job again just in time for the series?
People often ask me, “What have you learned through it all?” And quite honestly, it is sometimes hard to answer from the heart. It is easy to say that I have learned to trust God. But it is difficult to actually worship Him by trusting Him.
I would like to begin this series of Living Worship In the Work Place with an article on having a Christ-centered job search. Usually, work begins by looking for a job. And so often, we either shift into panic mode or self-exalting mode while looking for work. So I pray that this article will encourage you with three main lessons that I have learned over these past few years on having a Christ-centered job search.
1. Worship Christ by Thanking Him.
“…In everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving
let your requests be made known to God.” –Philippians 4:6
God does not suffer from multiple-personality disorder. He does not bless us during certain times of our lives, and curse us during other seasons. But in light of the gospel, every moment of every day is a gift of God’s grace.
Acts 17: 25 says, “He himself gives to all mankind life and breath and everything.”
Therefore, for me to complain about my recent job history would be to undermine the very sovereign grace of Christ. For me to do anything other than falling down in worship of Him would be to worship myself.
Rather than whining to God about all of my problems, I should let Him know my requests with thanksgiving. I should thank Him because He has provided for all of our needs over these past few years. We have never gone without food or shelter. And He has given us many blessings to enjoy.
But even more important than physical nourishment, God has given us what we really do need—a greater vision of His glory. He has revealed to us in an experiential way that He is our Father, our Help, our Comfort, our Shelter, and our Fountain of living water.
How idolatrous we are when we respond to such grace with self-centered complaining. Rather, we should respond in worship by thanking Christ for His provision of both the blessings and the trials, and for His revelation of Himself.
2. Worship Christ by Treasuring Him.
“Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, Rejoice.” –Philippians 4:4
One common misperception that many believers have is that for some reason we think that Christians should be excited in some “spiritually joyful” way about going through trials. And when that excitement is not naturally there, we tend feel guilty about it, as if we are not joyful.
However, the object of our joy is not our circumstances. But rather, the object of our joy is Christ. Jesus was not excited about going to the cross. But the object of His joy was in something greater than the experience of the cross.
In the same way, when we are searching for a job, we do not have to have a superficial excitement about the trial that God is orchestrating in our lives. But we should respond to that trial by treasuring Christ above our financial security.
Matthew 6:21 says, “For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” Your heart and your treasure are always centered on the same thing. If your heart is centered on Christ, then your treasure will be as well. But if your heart is centered on financial security, then your treasure will pursue that as well.
Please do not misunderstand me. Financial security is a very good thing in many cases. But we are not to treasure a security that is based on monetary comfort over the security that is found in Christ. We are to “Seek first the kingdom of God. And then all these things will be added to (us).”
3. Worship Christ by Trusting Him.
“Do not be anxious about anything.” –Philippians 4:6
Job searches can become the most self-exalting or self-debasing times of life. For me, I have a degree in Bible. So I do not feel qualified to pursue many “secular” jobs. It is easy for me to lack the confidence that I need in pursuing the job market when I do not have much experience or qualifications to get a well paying job. Many times I revert to the “Woe is me, for I am a Bible-major” mode.
So instead, I hide that fear by dressing up who I really am or even manipulating the truth in order to make myself look better than I really am. In reality, most of us spend the entire time looking for a job by doing nothing but bragging about how great we are.
In essence, we are trusting our own credentials, rather than the credentials of Christ. Listen to these words from Matthew 6:25-32—
“Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing? 26 Look at the birds of the air: they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? 27 And which of you by being anxious can add a single hour to his span of life? 28 And why are you anxious about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin, 29 yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. 30 But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is alive and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will he not much more clothe you, O you of little faith? 31 Therefore do not be anxious, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ 32 For the Gentiles seek after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them all. 33 But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.”
Nowhere in this passage does it say that God will provide for us because we have great skills. Napoleon Dynamite may think that “Girls only like guys who have great skills.” But God is not like that. He provides for us because of His gracious love.
So where is your trust? Do you find yourself resting in your job, or in your God?
I have been out of a job once again since May 31. And yet, God is continually providing for us. Even though I do not have a job, He has provided carpet cleaning jobs for us each week. And even though I do not have a vehicle to carry my equipment around in, He has provided a vehicle the day before each job. And we are confident that He will continue to provide for us.
Therefore, we would ask everyone who reads this article to join us in prayer and seeking the kingdom of God and His righteousness. And we know that every day, God will provide the food, shelter, and clothing that He know we need. So let us worship Him, and not ourselves, as we pursue looking for our places of employment.