Made For Mondays - Week Two: "Working For The Weekend?"
Today we are continuing our three-part sermon series entitled Made for Mondays. Our Mondays have more meaning than we may give them credit.
Whether you’re in the marketplace, in the school, or in the home, God takes great joy in work done well. Together we will discover what it looks like to go from simply working a job to glorifying God with all you do.
What would it look like to go from simply working, to glorifying God with all you do?
Today we're going to be focusing on this one big idea: Work done well happens when our minds are changed.
When I was a very, very young man... a very young man... there was this band named Loverboy that had a hit song entitled Working for the Weekend. If you came to church early enough today, you probably got a chance to hear it.
Here's a quick look at the video for all you youngsters who are just dying to make fun of us old people.
I entitled this sermon "Working for the Weekend" in part because of this song and the way it kept going through my head as I was thinking about what to say today.
That whole idea---working for the weekend---it implies that whatever work that is being done is only worthy in the fact that it enables the person working to do something more important during the weekend.
I get that. I guess. I mostly work on weekends, but I get it. Most of us do.
Here's the thing though--you will spend most of your life doing work. Whether it's work that you do in an office, a classroom, in your home, your community, your church... you were made for Mondays.
So how do you get your mind around the idea that the work you are doing is holy and amazing in its own right?
Let me tell you a couple of stories:
First of all, I want to tell you about the worst customer service I ever received:
It all started when I got a water bill that was roughly $400 more than any other month since I'd been living in my house which at that time was about 4 years. I called the water company to find out what the deal was, and was essentially told that their equipment didn't lie.
Long story short, I had a building inspector and a plumber check my pipes for leaks and discovered none. I continued to get bills that were crazy. The customer service reps at the water company accused me of lying. Once one of them hung up on me when I asked to speak to a supervisor.
Then the supervisor hung up on me when I threatened to write the Better Business Bureau to find some relief. And then all of a sudden--my bills returned to normal. No apologies. No refund. Nothing.
No one cared. No one took an interest in the issue. They were all working for the weekend, am I right?
Here's another story:
I was working as a hospital chaplain and was visiting a man in his room when a custodian for the hospital came in to clean it. My patient was in pain and felt terrible. The inconvenience of having someone come in and clean the room, change the sheets and such was more than he wanted to bear.
But then the custodian said this to the man in the sweetest, most loving way:
I know it's not the easiest thing for me to do right now, but I need to clean your room so you can get better. Is that okay?
I'm going to clean your room so you can get better...
This guy had a pretty difficult job---especially compared to the cushy job that my former water company's customer service reps had. And yet, he found value in it. He saw his role as integral in the patient getting well.
He had reframed his work in such a way that it mattered to the patient's well being whether he did his job or not. The water company people couldn't wait to punch out at the end of the night.
How do we have our minds transformed in such a way where all the work we do matters? How do we stop merely working for the weekend, and see all of the work that we do as vital and vibrant aspects of our life, our purpose and our overall fulfillment---no matter what we do?
Our conversation partner today is the Apostle Paul and his letter that he wrote to the church in Rome.
Let's listen to what he had to say about how your mind can be transformed:
1 Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship. 2 Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.Paul uses a loaded term here... living sacrifice.
Why use that kind of term--other than to call attention to the fact that we should be willing to surrender ourselves completely and wholly to God? It's because Paul is connecting this all to worship.
Worship in the ancient world involved sacrifice. And so Paul is basically saying here that when you surrender your life to God--and more specifically to God in Christ---"everything you do is worship." Everything.
But as Paul hints at here, the world around you has other ideas. Your mind needs renewing. You need to begin to see things differently.
What Paul is also hinting at here is that this is something like being re-programmed. He would have had no real language to put to that notion, but he does his best.
And here's what we come away with when we view Paul's words through this lens: When you being to see your work as worship, you will also realize that everything you do matters.
You aren't just working for the weekend. All that you do matters, your work matters.
So how can we begin to see our work as worship? How do we have our mind transformed away from the patterns of this world which sees work as a means to an end... a means to wealth, to relaxation, to success, to the things that really matter?
Well, we need to let the Spirit of God move and work in us, and the Spirit works in mysterious ways... Just like Walt Disney World.
You didn't see that coming, did you?
Here's the thing... I worked for Walt Disney World for ten years. In 1989 I was the youngest person to ever be admitted to Walt Disney World's prestigious management training program.
And I learned some things along the way that came back to me as I was thinking about Paul, and about having our minds renewed and transformed.
So bear with me---this is what working for Mickey taught me about the holiness of work.
First: Know the story
Walt Disney himself was famous for saying, "It all started with a mouse." This was a huge part of the orientation for all Disney employees, and it continued to be part of training in management as well.
We were taught to never lose sight of the story that started it all because if we did we would lose the very center of who we were as a company. And we needed to see our place in that story as one that was vital and needed.
For those of us who follow Jesus, we have the most incredible story in the history of stories as our foundation. And we need to learn to see that everything we do matters because when we embrace a life of following Jesus, we enter into that story more fully, making it ours, sharing it with others. This story is none other than the story of how God is saving the world.
And when we see all that we do as potential acts of worship, it enables us to see our place in God's great big story, too.
Second: Everyone is a Custodian
One of the first things that we learned when we became Disney employees was that even though there was an entire department dedicated to custodial activities, everyone who worked at Disney was also a custodian.
I cannot even begin to describe to you the manner of things that I had to clean up as a Disney employee over three parks, five different departments and even as a manager walking around with a tie and jacket.
Walt believed that there was no task too small for anyone who called themselves a Disney employee---and there was no one too big for "small" tasks. He was notoriously nasty and combative to managers and suits but had nothing but smiles and compliments for the regular workers in the parks.
It's easy sometimes to put the word "just" in front of the words we use to describe our work. I'm just ______________ fill in the blank. The word "just" has no place in the kingdom of God when describing the work that we are called to do.
Imagine if everything you did you did as an act of worship. You would be like the guy in the hospital room. You would see even the smallest task as an integral part of God's big story writ large in your life and the world around you.
No job is too small. No task is too menial. They are all holy in the eyes of God and they can all be acts of worship when our mind is transformed.
Finally: The Show Must Go On
I remember one morning when I was the supervisor in charge of the Peter Pan/Small World complex of attractions and I had four people call in sick on me. I contacted my manager and began whining about the fact that I was now four people short and had no idea where to find people to get the rides running when the park opened.
She told me, "I have faith in you. You'll get it done. Just know that when the park opens, your rides need to be running. The show must go on."
There were no excuses. No keeping a ride shut down because of lack of staffing. I got on the phone and managed to beg borrow and steal enough people to get my rides running. When my manager came through later and saw me staffing one of the rides myself, she nodded at me and smiled.
The show must go on.
As followers of Jesus, we need to be aware that there are people counting on us. And there are people watching us. How we do what we do matters to our families, to our children and grandchildren. And also to the people, we encounter in our work.
What do your customers really think of you? Would it surprise them if you told them you were a Jesus-follower, or would they say, "Now it makes sense?"
Do your children learn how to do their best in all that they do? Do they despise the small tasks, the menial jobs or do they see them as meaningful and important?
What do your co-workers see of you? Your employees? Your friends and neighbors? Do they see your worship in your work? Do they see that you believe what you do matters to God, matters to the world?
Imagine if we figured this out.