The Christian in Service

The Christian in Service

William MacDonald

Ed Beaver went to work for the Driver Corporation when he finished high school. He rapidly advanced from shipping clerk to order clerk to salesman and then to local sales manager.

Each promotion had been particularly welcome. Ed had married when he was twenty-two, and he and his wife now had three children. Increasing expenses in the home seemed to eat up the pay raises as fast as they came. No matter how much Ed made, they always had a hard time balancing the budget.

There were other problems. Each time the company advanced Ed to a higher position, it demanded more and more of his time. He found that he was having to work evenings and even some weekends, leaving less time for his wife and children. This resulted in tensions at home. His wife seemed short-tempered, and the children became rather difficult to manage.

Ed’s success in the business also affected his assembly life. He was a gifted Gospel preacher, and an acceptable Bible teacher. His first love was to be active in the work of the Lord, but his schedule was such that he could never be sure that he would be able to attend a meeting.

His own health hadn’t been too good. Competition in the industry kept him on his toes all the time. Pressure from the Sales Manager gnawed away at him incessantly. The sales quotas were being raised relentlessly. He had almost had a nervous breakdown on two occasions. His ulcers flared up periodically, and his latest medical examination revealed some trouble with the heart. It bothered him to spend so much on doctor’s bills that could have gone to the work of the Lord.

There were times when Ed seriously thought of changing jobs so that he could have more time for home and for the assembly. But there were heavy payments to be made on the home, the car and on insurance policies. Also there was the matter of the children’s education to be considered.

Now he was faced with a big decision. The state sales manager, a veteran of forty years with the company, was being eased out; apparently he was not able to keep up with the younger men. The company wanted Ed to replace him. In fact, they were almost insistent. It would mean a sizable increase in pay, but it would also mean more responsibility, more pressure, and more time away from home. If Ed didn’t accept the promotion there was always the possibility that the company would fire him.

Ed’s dilemma is typical of the problem being faced by Christians in business life today.

Modern corporations expect to have first place in the lives of those who want to get ahead. They want the best of a man’s time, talents and strength. They will extract the final ounce of blood, the last full measure of devotion. They will let him go when he can no longer come up to their expectations.

It is about time that believers did some re-thinking about this whole problem. We need to develop tough-mindedness in dealing with secular employers. We need to maintain a proper sense of values, to hold things in their true perspective.

First of all, a man’s job should never be allowed to assume first place in his life. Our calling in life is to serve the Lord; the job is simply a means of paying expenses. Jesus said, “Seek ye first the Kingdom of God and His righteousness…” Matthew 6:33. The New Testament never suggests that we are called to be tentmakers, carpenters or plumbers. We are called to be worshippers and witnesses; all else is subordinate.

There comes a time in modern business life when a man must say to a corporation, “Thus far shall thy proud waves come and no farther.” We must not assume that promotions and pay raises are always the will of God. Instead, they may be tests of our faithfulness to Him, temptations to lure us from the path of service to Him.

There comes a time when Ed Beaver might have to say to his boss, “Sir, the first thing in my life is to serve God. The second thing of importance is my family. Driver Corporation comes third. If I accept this promotion, I know it will mean giving more time to the company. I do not feel I can do that. I am making enough in my present position to support my family. I will continue to serve you faithfully and give you a full day of work for every day’s pay. But I must have time for my local church and for my family.”

This is what is meant by seeking first the Kingdom of God and His righteousness. Those who do it will never lack the necessities of life. If the company fires Ed Beaver, the Lord has something better for him.

Then too, we should consider the whole problem of mortgaging our lives for fine homes, cars and insurance policies. Many Christians have become slaves to a high standard of living, and their usefulness for God is seriously curtailed. It would be more honouring to the Lord to agree on a modest standard of living, and put everything above that into the work of the Lord.

The idea that every child must have a college education has become a fetish. Equally absurd is the notion that parents should provide full expenses in advance. The day will probably never come when a young person cannot earn most of his education by hard work and by scholarships. The education will mean more to him, and he will be the better man for having to work for it. Handing everything to children on a silver platter is not always a kindness.

If our Christian lives are to be effective for God, we must make decisions for Him. Instead of taking every advancement and salary increase that is offered, we must sometimes choose not to accept them.

Otherwise we will find ourselves in the position of giving our golden prime to the business world, and reserving the ashes of our heart for the Lord.

“I would not give the world my heart,
And then profess Thy love;
I would not feel my strength depart,
And then Thy service prove.

I would not with swift winged zeal
On the world’s errands go:
And labour up the heav’nly hill
With weary feet and slow.

O not for Thee my weak desires,
My poorer baser part!
O not for Thee my fading fires,
The ashes of my heart!

O choose me in my golden time
In my dear joys have part!
For Thee the glory of my prime,
The fulness of my heart.”