"23 Work willingly at whatever you do, as though you were working for the Lord rather than for people. 24 Remember that the Lord will give you an inheritance as your reward, and that the Master you are serving is Christ." Colossians 3:23-24
This verse has been in my head lately.
You know what verses precede these concluding verses of the chapter? It goes like this:
"18 Wives, submit to your husbands, as is fitting for those who belong to the Lord. 19 Husbands, love your wives and never treat them harshly. 20 Children, always obey your parents, for this pleases the Lord. 21 Fathers, do not aggravate your children, or they will become discouraged. 22 Slaves, obey your earthly masters in everything you do. Try to please them all the time, not just when they are watching you. Serve them sincerely because of your reverent fear of the Lord."
Yep, they deal with authority. Verses 23 and 24 seem as if they can generally be isolated in a lesson on stewardship, esp. in ministry, but in context, they’re connected to authority. Verses 23-24 are so empowering, but 18-22 are quite sobering.
You know, one thing I love about our God is that yes, He is a God of freedom, despite opposing thoughts saying He is about rules and to do lists. He wants freedom in our worship, in our lives, away from being bonded in our sin and addictive lifestyles that really prevent us from living a life of joy. But along with that freedom, our God is also a God of order. He allows position, authority, organization, and structure.
You see these characteristics in both the beauty and physics of this world- in the abstract and in the laws. Sometimes when we think about verses 23 and 24, we have that assurance that what we’re working for is essentially for our heavenly Master, but verses 18-22 remind us that we are responsible for serving others, and that God also places authority surrounding that service.
What would our army be without generals? Companies without CEOs or presidential positions? Surely, we rely on a check and balance system, but imagine organizations without a leadership position to lead the vision? Imagine a praise and worship team without a praise leader? And a pulpit without a pastor? A classroom without a teacher? Or a child without a parent?
God places people in authority in our lives, and for a specific reason. I’m not talking about slaves to masters who are denied rights; I’m talking about serving under leadership for the good of the community, the church, the family, and for us. Verses 23-24 promise us that our service to Him is ultimately for Him, but we cannot bypass the authority He has placed in our lives. Whether we like it or not, we have to swallow our pride sometimes and submit to that authority, knowing that God has a bigger plan. Maybe it’ll teach us to learn the beauty in discipline, values in leadership that will help us appreciate order AND humility, etc.
Many times in ministry, I want to break out and do everything differently. I want the worship time prolonged until it’s enough. I want to cut certain things out of the program and let spontaneity be more flexible. I want to buy a lot of multimedia software that will enhance worship…so on and so forth. I would want to do all that for God…but doing everything I want to do really shows how much, or how less, I’m thinking about other people around me, esp. the leadership of the church.
Sometimes, trusting the authority in my life shows that I trust God in placing those people in my life. Someday, maybe those ministry goals will be fulfilled, but meanwhile I have to trust God and just be responsible in my ministries that He’s personally called me for.
I know it’s tough to swallow, but this reminds me all the time that I’m not always going to like what’s given to me in ministry. I know people are going to complain, critique, disagree with me, or say I have bad hair. But I’ve learned through the years that leadership is not a feeling; it’s a commitment, and it’s a walk through refining fires. Leadership also acknowledges that there are leaders above you, and they answer to someone bigger as well, but we have to work together, despite hurts, despite issues. Ultimately, we’re serving and blessing God.