Who Do You Work For?
Billy Graham is one of the most revered Christians of the last century. He was a world-famous evangelist, a friend of presidents and kings, and a man who preached the Gospel to millions. His list of accomplishments is a mile long. Yet, if you look at his tombstone, his epitaph is simple:
“A preacher of the gospel of Jesus Christ.”
Oswald Chambers, who wrote “My Utmost for His Highest”, the book that has been in print since the early 1900s has a similar inscription on his grave:
“A Believer in Christ”
They each did amazing things in their lives. Yet, they both used their last personal statement to make clear achievements were not what was most important to them. It was their identity in Jesus and Jesus alone that defined them. They were workers for Jesus in everything they did.
This simple truth is the key to unlocking everything good Jesus has for you in life.
Are you looking for one simple way to make your Christian life markedly better? Place your identity squarely in Christ. Make Him truly your Alpha and Omega, Beginning and End…and you will prosper, grow, and live in abundance.
Is Jesus in Charge?
The pulls of the world tug at you every day. The bonds of relationships are strong. Cultural pressure and trends constantly attempt to mold you. It can feel like there are a million people who want a piece of your life for their own, both for good and bad. It is so easy to get confused about who you are and what makes you who you are.
Are you made whole by your spouse’s love and approval?
Do you feel good based on their treatment of you or your response to them?
Are you successful based on your kids and how well they seem to be doing?
Do you decide your agenda based on your job, your bank account, or the million other things that can distract you?
These things are not bad in themselves. But they are fickle and flawed. They tie your self-worth, self-esteem, and peace to imperfect people. They link your behavior and sense of self to a sinful person and to circumstances you cannot control.
Jesus says you cannot serve God and mammon. Mammon can be defined as wealth alone but is meant by Jesus to be more than just money there. Jesus refers to any false object of worship or devotion. It is anything you follow or invest in to derive our identity and positive feelings. This is first a recognition of Jesus’ status as King of Kings. He deserves all worship. Yet, Jesus is also trying to protect you. Seeking affirmation from anyone or thing other than Jesus is always frustrating, painful, and harmful for you.
You can do everything right and your boss can still not appreciate you. You can be a great wife and your husband will still fail you in some ways. You can work your fingers to the bone and not be financially successful. You can plant a great crop and a flood can destroy it in a moment.
Hitching your self-worth and dignity to anything in this sin tainted world will always result in pain. This is the shifting sands Jesus warns you against building your life upon. The sands don’t always shift but you can never find true stability in them.
A Believer in Christ
This is where establishing your identity clearly as a believer in Christ is so important. Jesus loves you perfectly. He will never fail you. He does not withhold affection or fail in His duties. He always has your best interest in mind. He will always be at work with the problem people and situations in life. He is way better at fixing impossible to fix things than you are.
You can enjoy life more and live with peace and joy in it – no matter what – if you are identified by Him. This is the firm foundation Jesus encourages you to build on. Nothing will ever disturb the footings Jesus sets for you in life. You never have to fear storms or floods. There is no need to spend countless hours finding yourself in Jesus. You are established for eternity because of Jesus.
Peter wrestled with himself and his plans for three years of Jesus’ earthly ministry only to fail miserably at the Cross. It is only when he realizes he is defined by his relationship to Jesus that Peter takes off:
“Do you love me?” is Jesus’ question.
The answer is everything. Peter gets his job to serve the one who loves him and never fails him again.
Who Do You Really Work For?
John Galbraith, in his autobiography, A Life in Our Times, illustrates the simplicity of this clear devotion through a story about Emily Wilson, his family’s housekeeper. It had been a wearying day, and I asked Emily to hold all calls while I had a nap. Shortly thereafter the phone rang. Lyndon Johnson was calling from the White House.
“Get me, Ken Galbraith. This is Lyndon Johnson.”-
“He is sleeping, Mr. President. He said not to disturb him.”-
“Well, wake him up. I want to talk to him.”
“No, Mr. President. I work for him, not you.”
Did you squirm a bit when reading this story?
Put yourself in the housekeeper’s shoes. The most powerful man in the world is telling her to do something. Do you feel the pressure to divide loyalty?
Do you ever feel this way while trying to serve Jesus? Have you felt the same discomfort while navigating your Christian life? You want to serve Christ but there is a worldly pressure that makes staying true to your actual boss hard. Have you wanted to preach the Gospel but worried about the worldly consequences? Ever feel the conflict between what you know Jesus would do and getting along easily with someone?
The housekeeper faced the challenge of saying “No” to the President of the United States with ease. Why? Because she was clear who she worked for. She knew where her identity came from. She did not answer to Lyndon Johnson. She wanted to please her boss.
This clarity made the wishes of the most powerful man in the world irrelevant.
Have you made this decision in your life? Who do you work for? Who are you trying to please?
If you haven’t, now is the time. Determine in your heart who defines you. This is the way to a peaceful life as a disciple of Jesus.
Ruth Graham – Billy’s wife has another great epitaph. Not as explicit as the other two, but perhaps more accessible to most of us:
“End of Construction – Thanks for Your Patience”
She was looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of her faith.
You cannot change or control anyone else in life. You cannot make anyone happy. You cannot guarantee life will go as you plan. The Coronavirus is very clear evidence of this truth.
You can, however, be daily transformed by Jesus. You can live a joyful life in Jesus no matter what anyone around you is doing. You can have true peace that surpasses understanding.
It just takes a decision on who defines you.
So who defines you?
I’d like to say I am like Oswald Chambers or Billy G. but I struggle with my fears, insecurities, and loving man’s approval. I am much more the Under Construction end of things but have come so far from where I started.
How about you?
Jesus invites you to take Him up on His offer of an amazing life. You just have to trust Him.