His divine power has given us everything we need for life and godliness through our knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness. – 2 Peter 1:3 (NIV)
When I went through basic training, we did a number of marches and two bivouacs (a fancy term for camp-out), and every time we had soldiers who were unprepared. It was never an issue of whether they had been given the right tools, equipment or clothing; it was their attitude and lack of discipline. The Army had given all of us the same training, technology and time; it really came down to whether you put the effort in to use it.
I remember working for a manufacturing company doing fairly labor intensive work when I finished with college. I actually enjoyed the work itself, but it still tops my list of worst job ever. Management and supervision consistently were at odds, creating an atmosphere of discontent and unhealthy competition between the shift crews. Supervisors would sabotage one another to make sure their production numbers were higher; crew members would badmouth other crews; staff meetings were brief and uninformative; training was inconsistent and infrequent. Even with all of these shortcomings, management and supervision still expected perfection. As you can imagine, there was a lot of turn-over in low-level staff and plenty of shortcuts being taken to meet quotas. Fortunately that job was short-lived.
I am sure that my experiences are not isolated from some that you may have had; a new job with high expectations and no support. It is a frustrating and even damaging environment to be in for very long. It is easy to slowly give in and do what you can to blend into the background. If you choose not to give in, every day can be a study in frustration, anger and the want ads for another job. In this kind of situation there is no hope in ever pleasing your boss or satisfying his standards.
God, however, is a much better boss. He starts with mercy, teaches with love and disciplines with compassion. His desire is for us to be like Him, but He is patient with us in reaching that goal. And He gives us everything we need to do the job. He gives us the right tools, the right information at the right time “to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.” You will never find a job with a better benefit package than doing the work of God.
However, just as a soldier must constantly maintain discipline to be effective on the field, so we must also be disciplined to truly experience all that God has given us. It does no good to say, “I’m a soldier for Christ” if you are not willing to live out what that means. It is arrogance that demands the benefits of being called a workman approved by God, if we are not making every effort to submit ourselves to God.
God is loving, gracious, kind and compassionate. He loves blessing His children, but there are some things that we must strive toward. Not because He is unwilling to give them to us, but because it is only in the striving that we become capable of handling what we strive for. If we are called by God, we must strive toward our calling; if we are anointed for His work, we must strive to walk in the anointing despite the cost; if we are holy and dearly loved, we must strive to abide in the one who is holy – the one who is love.
The world is like that nightmare job – bad management, infighting, competition against each other instead of for each other, muddling through for the off chance we can party for a while to forget how miserable it will be when the weekend is over. The only way we can overcome this world is to refuse to play by its rules. So when you are having one of those “working-in-the-world” moments, remember that you work for the God who wants you to excel in all things, provides all you need to do so and gives you a multitude of brothers and sisters who will encourage and edify you toward that end. Don’t settle for being all you can be, strive for being all He has called you to be, for He is faithful to help you on your way.