1 What Shall I Do With the People Who Matter Most?
We’ve been talking about the mission of Jesus to restore, renew, and repair the world. The Tikkun olam mission (which is the Jewish concept and Hebrew phrase that means “repair of the world”). Christ followers also understand this as bringing God’s kingdom to earth—as it is in heaven.
The message ended up being a fresh call to live with the quiet strength of meekness. If we are meek in our relationships, we will be flexible and adaptable enough to be the people of God’s Tikkun olam mission.
And so, we’ve been learning about how freedom, accountability, and grace-empowered responsibility factor into joining Jesus on this mission to repair the world.
It needs to be said, these are relationships of privilege—having a spouse, a child, a friend—these are all extraordinary privileges. And having a job or career where you have a boss or co-workers/colleagues is, too.
So, for starters, love them. Love your spouse, your child, your parents, your friends, and your co-workers.
This past week, CEO of Warehaus, Mark Gerner, was interviewed by Pastor Brian Newman at the Leadership Seminar we offered. When Mark was asked about his role in the company, he very authentically said, “I am here to love people.” It was so refreshing to be reminded that love belongs in the workplace—as much as anywhere else. As Christ followers, we are commanded to love one another, and to love our neighbor as ourselves. More on this next week!
Also, we should honor them. For a Christ follower, each of these relationships is to be one of incredible honor.
The first sentence of 1 Peter 2:17 (ESV) is a simple two-word command: “Honor everyone.” This certainly applies to these vital relationships of husband and wife, father to sons and daughters, mother to sons and daughters, friends, and fellow workers. We need to step back often in these relationships and assess how much we are honoring each other in these relationships to live obedient to the way of Jesus.
2 What Shall I Do With My Spouse?
Read reflectively and prayerfully through the rest of this resource and take inventory of how you are doing in each of these relationships you are privileged to have. Talk with the Lord and perhaps a few of these people about how God is calling you to take greater responsibility in these relationships.
Ephesians 5 gives us the key, which is for husbands and wives to live in mutual submission in a relationship saturated with love and respect. This is hard to do, but is the best marriage advice we could ever receive.
If you are privileged to have a spouse, let the marriage vows that you said on your wedding day shape your life together as husband and wife.
Marriage is a picture of God’s relationship with his people—a picture of Christ and the church—and our marriages should point people past ourselves to God.
Husbands and wives need to love each other with sacrificial love, work hard to cultivate intimacy, and encourage one another’s hearts.
Paul uses the word duty a lot when talking to husbands and wives (see 1 Corinthians 7). It’s not a very romantic term. Or is it? Paul is helping us understand the beauty of duty, and the vital importance of responsibility in marriage.
3 What Shall I Do With My Children/Parents?
In short, raise your children up! (Ephesians 6:4)
Love them. Never, ever, ever give up on them. Bring them up in a culture of honor. Give them an accurate vision of God. Develop their character. Teach them life skills. Help them get connected to God and his people. Love them in both the day-to-day and the key moments of their lives. Model godly behavior and repentance. Take ownership and authentically apologize when you make mistakes.
One of the things I do (as a personal checklist) with my kids is:
- Listen to them
- Value them
- Observe them
- Encourage them
As our children were growing up, I tried to do this every day for each of them. And, of course, I failed quite often. You will, too. Failure is a part of parenting it seems.
But ultimately, we parents are the ones who are given the immense responsibility (there’s that word again) to raise our kids for the glory of God.
And what shall I do with my parents?
Well, the fifth commandment (Exodus 20:12) is a good place to start: “Honor your father and your mother, so that you may live long in the land the LORD your God is giving you” (NIV).
We should honor them like crazy. They have made their fair share of missteps and mistakes, some small and some egregious. They will make more. Honor them regardless.
Be their legacy to the world. Make their name great. Care for them. Don’t abandon them. Listen to their wisdom and experience. Make every effort to be reconciled to them by the grace of God and live at peace with them if you’ve had struggles in the past.
In short, and you may be sensing a pattern here, God desires us to live with a deep sense of responsibility toward and for our parents.
4 What Shall I Do With My Friends?
Aren’t friendships an extraordinary privilege? We live in such an epidemic of loneliness in our culture today and friendships are vital and life-giving, but they can be elusive and hard to make and maintain.
Poet John O’Donohue wrote a book called Anam Cara (which is Gaelic for “soul friend”). In this book, John talks about the beauty and blessing of having a friend who helps to shape and strengthen your soul. If you have a close friend or two, you recognize how this is a true privilege that needs to be cultivated with great intentionality. (By the way, I paused for a few moments from typing this resource to text a word of encouragement to a close friend of mine just now.)
Celebrate milestones in your friends’ lives. Lament with them in suffering. Sit with them in their grief. Journey with them through the storms of life. Be responsible to God for your friend(s).
“The Grover Principle”
As a child, I remember watching Sesame Street. In a particular episode, Grover was getting jealous because his friends were getting letters in the mail and he wasn’t. So, Grover was upset about this, and finally some people in Grover’s life cared for him enough to give him some training in this area. They told Grover, “If you want to receive letters from people, you have to write letters to people. And if you write letters, they will probably write you back.” And so, Grover gets paper and pen and starts his first letter and (I always thought this was so funny as a kid) he writes: “Dear Mom.”
It’s so true that if we want friends we need to “show ourselves friendly” (Proverbs 18:24).
Finally, I’ve always loved this wonderfully wise quote on friendship from Dinah Maria Craik in A Life for a Life:
“Oh, the comfort, the inexpressible comfort of feeling safe with a person; having neither to weigh thoughts nor measure words, but to pour them all out, just as they are, chaff and grain together, knowing that a faithful hand will take and sift them, keep what is worth keeping, and then, with a breath of kindness, blow the rest away.”
5 What Shall I Do With My Co-Workers/Boss?
First, we must remember that work is not a result of the fall. Work is a gift from God. We need to see that it is actually God who is our employer who richly rewards us.
And so, “whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him” (Colossians 3:17).
I love this quote from William Hendricks:
“People need work. They need its challenge, its product, its achievement, its aesthetic and emotional rewards, its relational dynamics, its drama, its routine, and its remuneration. Reduce the workplace only as a soapbox for evangelism, and you destroy a gift of God. For that is what work is, a gift.”
As you interact with your boss and co-workers you should live out the beautiful words of Philippians 2:14-16, which says:
Do everything without complaining or arguing, so that you may become blameless and pure, children of God without fault in a crooked and depraved generation, in which you shine like stars in the universe as you hold out the word of life—in order that I may boast on the day of Christ that I did not run or labor for nothing.
Here’s a few more things we should do:
- Have a non-anxious presence
- Don’t complain
- Bring encouragement in every conversation
- Be punctual and dependable
- Be a lifelong learner
In short, carry your responsibilities with a true sense of joy as unto the Lord. Your boss and your co-workers will be blessed by your great care and intentionality to do this.
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