The Right Attitude
The Bible says when you pray about your job you will have the right thoughts and attitude.
Alright, thank you very much, and hello again, radio friends. How in the world are you? Are you doing alright? Well, I trust so, bless your heart. Glad to be back with you; this is your good friend Bob Cook. We’re looking at 1 Thessalonians, Chapter 5, Verse 12, and on into 13. “We request of you, brothers,” he said, “to know” (that means watch, perceive, understand, cherish, honor…all of that wrapped up in that word) “those who labor among you and are over you in the Lord.” That’s where we left off the last time we got together: this matter of people being over us in the Lord.
Number one: accept the fact that you have to be responsible to someone. You know, people say, “I’m creative, and I just can’t work by the same rules other people do.” Well, even creative people, I notice, stay on the right side of the road when they drive, and try to observe the speed limits, and do other things that are mandatory. Once you make up your mind that you’re responsible to someone, and once you understand that in God’s order, everybody has to be accountable to somebody. And in God’s work, there are people who are in leadership, and you and I are responsible to them. That’s what he’s saying here. They are over you in the Lord. Make up your mind that that’s the way God does things, and you and I had better fit in.
Because that is so, he says, you honor them. You give them their special place. Then, it says, they admonish you. To admonish a person means to tell him what he or she ought to do. Also, if you look in your Greek New Testament, that word means “to warn” a person. Here again, my attitude makes all the difference in the world. If I constantly bristle when someone tries to tell me what God’s Word says about a matter, if I constantly get offended when someone points out that I need to change either my attitude or my actions, or both, well then I’m not going to profit at all by the relationship. So he says, “Honor these people.” Part of their job is to lead. Part of their job is to warn you if you’re too near the edge of the cliff. Honor them, and accept them for what they are, because God put them there.
The Bible says pray about your job and your thoughts will be established. If you’re having a hard time getting along with your boss, pray about it and you will find that God does something in your own heart that makes things different. “Commit thy work unto the Lord and thy thoughts shall be established.” That’s the verse on which I base what I just said to you. I guess it’s two years ago now that I said something like this, and someone wrote to me later on and said “I’ve been so upset with my job, and I was just looking for some way to quit and get another job, and then I heard you say, “Pray about your job and things will change.” And then, the writer of this letter said, “I began to pray about it, and now, things are altogether different. My attitude has changed, and I’m in line for a promotion. Praise the Lord!” Well, I’m glad for that.
They are over you and they admonish you. Don’t bristle when the boss tries to point out that things could be done better, or differently. Henry Ford, the originator of the company, tall, thin, gaunt, grey-haired genius that he was, used to make a habit of walking through his factory and seeing first-hand how things were going. On one such trip, he paused beside a young man who was operating some kind of machinery, and doing it awkwardly. Mr. Ford tapped the young man on the shoulder and said, “Son, that’s awkward. Let me show you.” And so, with his practiced engineer’s hands, he took over the operation of that piece of work, deftly and expertly doing it, and showing the young man. And then, as he stepped back, he looked at him and he noticed that there was a flush of embarrassed red and maybe irritation, creeping up the back of the man’s neck. He was upset, irritated and embarrassed, perhaps resentful. And Mr. Ford said gently, “Son, don’t get upset because I stopped to talk with you. If I didn’t think you were worth it, I wouldn’t have bothered with you.”
Look at it that way. Anytime anyone gives you advice, it’s because they think you’re worth it. If you were a clod, if you didn’t matter, they wouldn’t bother, would they? So think of it that way when somebody admonishes you. Don’t get upset and resentful, but think about it, and profit from it. Good idea?
Now, it says there is another thing we ought to do in relationship to those who lead us. It says, “Esteem them very highly in love for their works’ sake.” Now you know what that word “esteem” means. It means your attitude toward people. So he says know those, cherish those, honor those who are over you in the Lord, and hold them in a relationship that is, (and this is an interesting word) hyper, which means “over; above,” ek, which means “outside of,” and perisos, which means “a measure,” (we get our word perimeter out of it.) He says hold these people in such a high attitude that it goes beyond the perimeters of ordinary human relationship: very highly in love. He uses the word agape there, the John 3:16, Calvary kind of love.
Now, he says “You hold them in such high regard that it goes beyond the normal perimeters, outside the normal measure of what you owe them.” There’s nothing more distressing than an obedience or a followership that is forced. “Well, I’ll do it, but I don’t want to do it.” Well, that spoils everything, doesn’t it? You know that, and so do I. And so he says, “You hold them in very high regard.” And the extent of that high regard is that it goes beyond what you would have to do; it goes beyond the measure, the benchmark, the milestone. You do it above and beyond because of Calvary love in your heart. Paul said, “The love of Christ constraineth us.” He told the people in Rome, “The love of God is shed abroad in our hearts.” Same word: agape. Calvary love; John 3:16 love, shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Ghost who is given unto us.
Deacons, you try this. Sunday school teachers, committee members, church members all, try this on for size, would you? Let the Spirit of God fill your heart with divine love, and then let that love be expressed in the way you treat those who are in leadership in your group, whether it’s a committee or a Sunday school, or the whole church, or whatever. Let the love of God be expressed in your attitude toward the people who are over you in a supervisory sense. You will be amazed at the results. First of all, the atmosphere will clear up. It won’t be tense. It won’t be filled with static; it will be easy, and it will be better all around. Your work will go better, and you’ll find that your relationships with those who supervise you are improved, because you’re giving thought to understanding and appreciating them, and because you are expressing divine love in the way that you have an attitude toward them. Do you want to work on that?
Yes, it’s a big order. Yes, I know that sometimes the people who are over you seem not only difficult, but also impossible. I know that. But I also know that God begins with me, inside of me to change situations. Do you want things different in your home, mother or dad? Start asking God to work in your own life. You’d be surprised what will happen as a result.
Now, he says hold them in very high esteem. Go beyond the necessities of leadership. Very highly in love, for their works’ sake. We tend to personalize things. If someone criticizes us, we take it personally, don’t we? Inevitably, it works that way. You have to live a while before you learn not to bristle when somebody gives criticism because they’re not picking on you personally. They’re talking about the issue or the work involved. And so, he says esteem them very highly, for their works’ sake.
I remember a good many years ago now a minister who never would look at the congregation. When he preached, he always looked at the side walls. He would preach to one wall, and then he’d preach to the other wall. And once you’d become aware of it, it would become annoying. People would talk about it, and they’d criticize him. But if you’d take time to get to know the man, he was a delightful person and a dear man of God. Now, you have your choice of picking on some little idiosyncracy (my father used to call them idio-sin-crazies) that irritates you on one hand, or else honoring the person because of the work he’s in. He’s in God’s work. He’s giving out God’s Word. He’s leading people to know God. He’s been placed there by the Lord.
Oh, it’s not the person, and the way he combs his hair, if any. It’s not the personality traits that he may have, some of which may irritate you. That isn’t what matters; it’s the work of almighty God that counts. Now Paul lived what he wrote. If you go back to Philippians, he said, “I would like to have you know, brothers, that what has happened to me” (he was arrested, he was subjected to interrogation, he was sent to Rome, and when he wrote Philippians he was a prisoner) “have fallen out rather onto the furtherance of the gospel, so that my bonds in Christ” (that means these chains, these shackles that are on my wrists and ankles) “are manifest in all the palace and in all other places. Many of the brethren are waxing confident, much more bold to speak the word without fear.
Now, some people, he said, do it just to add to my affliction. But many, he said, other people do it because of love. What, then, he said, notwithstanding either way, Christ is preached, and I’m going to rejoice. You see, it’s the work that counts. Paul proved it in his own life. You and I need to learn that lesson. It’s not how I feel that counts, it’s what’s being done for God that counts. Amen?
Dear Father, today, oh may we have the right attitude toward our work, toward our bosses, toward our pastors, toward our supervisors, because of Jesus and his love. Amen.
Till I meet you once again by way of radio, walk with the King today and be a blessing!
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