I was having lunch with two senior civil servants a few days ago. At the end of lunch one of them had to rush off for a meeting. I had a few quiet moments with the other, a friend in Christ, who shared with me some good news. He had just been promoted. But he went on to share that the promotion did not make him as happy as he thought he would be. I told him this was probably a good thing. His identity was no longer defined primarily by his job. I suggested that his identity was now defined primarily by his relationship with the Lord.
I am not suggesting that we shouldn’t have some legitimate joy in the affirmation that comes with a promotion. But if my primary identity is as a child of God, a promotion will be less likely to make me arrogant, and not getting a promotion we think we deserve will be less likely to lead to despair.
If we view our work as being done unto the Lord and as an expression of our service to neighbour, we will want to do our best. Indeed, whether we receive the rewards we feel we deserve or not this side of heaven, the Lord promises us that He will remember the good work we do and reward us accordingly in the life to come.
Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters, since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward. It is the Lord Christ you are serving. (Colossians 3:23-24 NIV)
Our self-worth, however, should be rooted in the Lord, in the fact that God loved us enough to create us, to die for us, to adopt us as His children, and to enlist us in His mission. I don’t need a promotion to make me feel good about myself.
My friend further revealed his spiritual maturity when he went on to say it was very easy to lose this perspective on life. He is right. We live in a world where we are motivated to perform by a system that encourages us to invest our self-worth in a sophisticated system of carrots and sticks. Living in such an environment most of the time, it is easy to lose sight of who we really are and what is really important. I suggested that the basic spiritual disciplines of regular communion with the Lord and spiritual friendship were critical for our spiritual survival and our continuing ability to be salt and light.
It was an important lunch.
*stock image by bplanet / freedigitalphotos.net