God. Family. Work. Church.

Psalm 127:3-5 (ESV)
3 Behold, children are a heritage from the LORD, the fruit of the womb a reward.
4 Like arrows in the hand of a warrior are the children of one’s youth.
5 Blessed is the man who fills his quiver with them! He shall not be put to shame when he speaks with his enemies in the gate.

Deuteronomy 6:6-8 (ESV)
6 And these words that I command you today shall be on your heart. 7 You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise.8 You shall bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes.

 
Before I get to the point of my “short?” blog entry today, I would like to set a frame this writing for you, the reader:

I was sitting at my job in California reading Facebook when I came across a fresh post from a Pastor friend of mine who resided in another state.

“God. Family. Work. Church”

That blew my mind.  The culture in which I was participating was this:

“God. Church. Family. Work.”

The last two could come in any order you please, but you better make stinkin’ sure you had the first two right, or there’d be Hell to pay. And the leaders were the consequence messengers.  I was sold out. I was a highly committed participant, and I reminded my wife of that order every time she begged for a little slice of my time as I headed out to 20 hours of church service after working 60-80 hours (leaning more towards 80) at a brutal job. Needless to say, I reminded her and everyone around me the party line.

At lunch I called that Pastor friend in another state and got some clarity about his post:

  1. God is first
    1. ALWAYS ALWAYS ALWAYS.
  2. Family is next
    1. this is the community you are given to shepherd (your own home)
      so don’t disqualify yourself (per se)
  3. Work
    1. This is the ministry God has given you to provide for your family
      This WILL challenge some paradigms out there
  4. and finally Church
    1. Church is important, but it comes after you’ve solidified the position for your family

My thoughts back then: Church is at the bottom!?  My paradigm was being challenged.  For so many years I heard the contradictory statements of (Para-phrased) … “I need to be the hardest worker at my place of employment”…  and  “I had better show up at church by 5pm for evening mid-week stuff or God won’t be happy with me.”  My life’s philosophy was now under review.  Ouch!

Fast forward to today.  I am not convinced of this.  Don’t get me wrong – I’d much rather be serving Jesus at church rather than at my job certain seasons and days of the week, but I have “re”-learned, my vocation is something God has given to me as a gift.  It’s task, a ministry, he expects me to do, and to do with excellence.  So whenever I catch up on a trade journal, a YouTube or blog posting relating to my profession, I am solidifying my position and foundation in the ministry God has given me.

 

You may say, “okay Rick. That’s great. So why did you write this post?”

 

I am sitting her reflecting on having spent time with my family this evening –  in particular my 2 year old  We spent time in the playhouse reading books, sitting on bean bags, eating hot dogs, and pushing her as fast as I could down the hall on her Mickey Mouse Clubhouse car, with a “3-2-1 blastoff.”  I sat with my wife as we briefly discussed questions from her study tomorrow.  I hung out downstairs as my 17 year old and some friends of hers were over hanging out, playing games, eating cookies, and drinking the best coffee ever roasted – Jose’s vanilla nut imported by my in-laws from Costco in Orange County last week (Maricopa County Costco’s please take note!)

 
I was participating in life. My Life. The life God has given me.  And I was doing true ministry.

  • Putting my two year old to bed after a bath – which a challenge at times – is an immense privilege.
  • To be able to have my 17 year old poke fun at me with her friend around because she thinks I’m old and not as smart as she is – frankly is a HUGE privilege to be there for that.
  • Just to be “around” and available for my wife to ask me questions without having to fit it into my calendar, or hoping I’m not too trashed from a long day ending at 9:00pm that she could get some “quantity time” with me.  (Whoever invented that term “Quality Time” vs. “Quantity Time” was just being selfish of their own time.  Another blog for another day.)

None of this would have occurred if I were still in a place where I was mis-prioritzing  church ahead of my family, ahead of my work.  I still want to serve, and with excellence.  But it doesn’t always happen at church.  A lot of it does, just not all of it.

 
It’s good to be in your neighborhood building relationships with your neighbors, that one day you could minister to them – share Jesus with people because they know you care about them, not because your checking a box as you drop a pamphlet off on their front porch.
 
It’s good to be in your home for those times you can coach and guide.  It’s good to be there for your kids, not as just an instructional figurehead, but also as a functioning member of the household who is guiding when you walk along the path, when you rise, when you lie down, and when you watch TV, swim in the pool or mow the lawn.  Do all things to the glory of God. (1 Cor 10:31)  Pray for me, a failing sinner, who doesn’t always get this right even 1/2 the time. (Covered by amazing grace)
 
It’s good to spend the time needed at work (not out of balance, as we [as “I”] have a tendency to do) to give Christ a good name among the people with whom you work.  When you’re always cutting out at a certain time, leaving some tasks undone, even getting behind overall, because you have to get to church – you may think (or convince yourself) Jesus is pleased.  But we are failing to remember, whatever we find to do, do it with all our might.
 
Please do not consider this minimizing our need to participate in our church. I am not.  I still love serving at my local church.  I desire many others to learn what I have (to re-prioritize) so they too may have awesome nights of just being there – like I had tonight.  That is when the most ministry opportunities occur.

– Peace

A little sleep …

 
I make this, my first blog entry, at 4:11am on April 5, 2013.
 
I have been awake all night so far – attempting to complete a task due for work. It has been larger than expected requiring some elbow grease – and patience – to untangle, understand, and reassemble some code.  After spending time with the family a couple hours  {not including the commute 🙂 }

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I have been spoken to about working late – as at nights like these.
But as I work I bear in mind a few things:

Proverbs 6:10-11 (ESV)
10 A little sleep, a little slumber, a little folding of the hands to rest,
11 and poverty will come upon you like a robber, and want like an armed man.

Ecclesiastes 9:10 (ESV)
10 Whatever your hand finds to do, do it with your might, for there is no work or thought or knowledge or wisdom in Sheol, to which you are going.

1 Corinthians 10:31 (ESV)
31 So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.

Ephesians 6:5-8 (NIV)
5 Slaves, obey your earthly masters with respect and fear, and with sincerity of heart, just as you would obey Christ.
6 Obey them not only to win their favor when their eye is on you, but like slaves of Christ, doing the will of God from your heart.
7 Serve wholeheartedly, as if you were serving the Lord, not men,
8 because you know that the Lord will reward everyone for whatever good he does, whether he is slave or free.

Colossians tags the above verse with this line:

Colossians 3:24 (NIV)
24 since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward. It is the Lord Christ you are serving.

I am reminded working this hard for my boss earthly boss at work is me actually working for the Lord himself.  Being a software engineer is the position God gave me, outside of my family, this is probably the biggest ministry in life, at the workplace – by doing my job.

May I work hard to succeed at the workplace, but not for my name’s sake, but God himself.  This is the vocation he has given me.