For 5 years I was the pastor of Trinity International Church in Strasbourg, France. I created this blog with those people in mind. In mid-November 2018 I will become the Senior Pastor of Word of Life Church in Coon Rapids, Minnesota. The focus of this blog will therefore shift, but I pray that people from the blogosphere will continue to find it helpful wherever they might be found.
The churches' websites includes recorded sermons for those who are interested. Click the links below to access them.

Friday, January 13, 2017

"Just the Receptionist"

The president of the company I worked for and I were deep in conversation about at project I was working on as we walked past the company's receptionist. One of her main duties was answering the phone and transferring the call to the appropriate department. At that moment she was on the phone with someone who appeared to have a problem and wasn't satisfied. As we walked past, she told the person on the phone, "Sir, I am sorry, but I am just the receptionist. I cannot help you." We walked a few more steps and the president stopped and waited. When she was off the phone, he walked up to her and gently said, "Trudy, can I tell you something?" Trudy was startled. The president was talking to her!

"I couldn't help overhearing what you told that last caller. I want you to know something. You are not 'just the receptionist'. There is no such thing. As far as I am concerned, you are one of the most important people in the entire company. We only have one chance to make a first impression when someone calls, and first impressions matter. We interviewed dozens of people for your position and we picked you because you are incredibly gifted. You are exactly the right person for the job. You make a wonderful first impression. Not only that, you are a fantastic people-connector. After talking to a person for a few moments you can figure out just who that person needs to talk to in the company. That isn't easy. Your supervisor tells me that you are doing a great job. It doesn't surprise me because you have some tremendous abilities. Thank you for doing such excellent work. Thanks for being the type of person I would want to talk to when I called a company with a question."

Tears were welling up her eyes as he continued, "Trudy, you have a unique perspective. Do you realise that you are the only one who interacts not only with all of our customers but also with every department in the company? If you come up with a way we can make things work better, come find me. I want to hear from you. I mean it."

I realised a couple of things that day: First, we all need to know how we fit in the overall plan. It gives our lives perspective and value. Second, many times the positions that seem of small value are judged by the boss to be of the greatest value.

Ephesians 2:8-10 tells us that we were saved by grace. Our salvation is a gift from God. It also tells us that we are his workmanship, "hand-crafted" by Him with a specific things in mind. He not only fashioned us, he also has things for us to do. He has an important place for us in his kingdom. He has a role for us.

Just like the receptionist struggled when she did not understand her role in the company, we will struggle until we understand our role in the kingdom of God. We need to understand what the kingdom is about and what our place is in it if we are to thrive as followers of Christ. If we have a grasp on those things, we will be able to serve the Lord with a deep satisfaction, knowing that we are walking in the "good works" that he prepared for us. It won't matter to us if our job appears important to others, because we know that it is the boss's opinion that really matters.

I will be writing about our purpose and finding our role in the kingdom over the coming weeks. I hope that it will lend purpose, perspective and passion to our lives.

But first, something must be settled in our hearts. It must be firmly decided that we will follow Jesus wherever he leads us. Career, family, country must all be set aside in order to follow Christ. We have to trust him. Too many listen to what the Bible says as if it were just another self-help book. It is much more than a book with some ideas we might try. It is the Word of God and it calls for our whole hearted obedience. Everything else must fade into the background.

Jesus told Simon, Andrew, James, and John to walk away from the their fishing businesses, "Come, follow me, and I will make you fishers of men," he told them (Mark 1:16-20).

He told the wealthy tax collector to leave his business when he said, "Follow me" (Luke 5:27-28).

The apostle Paul wrote that he considered everything he had to be rubbish compared to knowing Christ. He laid aside his reputation, education, culture, everything in the pursuit of Jesus (Philippians 3:7-10). He wrote to the Romans that in light of everything that God has done for us in Christ, the only logical and spiritual response was to lay our lives down as living sacrifices to God. He said that we were not to conform to the pattern of success as defined by this world  (Romans 12:1-2).

But it wasn't just those apostles that Jesus called to make this commitment. He told the great crowds that followed him that if they wanted to become his disciples they needed to renounce everything they had. That included family and even life itself (Luke 14:25-33).

Finding the purpose of God for our life and understanding what it is he wants us to do, starts with this deep level of commitment. Are we willing to follow him? He may lead you to become a great preacher or he may lead you to be a plumber. Both preaching and plumbing need to be done in the kingdom. Neither is more important than the other because what gives them value is whether we are doing what God has called us to do.

Paul warns us that at the judgment seat, the fire will be put to our work. The issue won't be whether we were a plumber or preacher, but whether we were doing what God called us to do. Those "good works which God prepared beforehand" will stand the fire like like gold silver or precious stones. Everything else will burn away as if it were wood, hay, or stubble (1 Corinthians 3:5-15).

Lord, I have dreams, hopes, and plans. But right now I lay them all aside. Jesus, I give you my life and I declare that my greatest goal is knowing you. I want to know you more. I want to understand your ways. I want to walk in the path you have laid out for me. Help me understand what it is you want me to do each day. Bring purpose to my days. Give me faith to follow you even when I don't understand why certain things are happening. Jesus, teach me. I want to be your disciple. For your glory, in Jesus name, Amen.

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