Observe people who are good at their work––Pro 22:29
skilled workers are always in demand and admired;
they don’t take a back seat to anyone.
I have been a computer programmer for almost 30 years. In computers, that is multiple ages of programming. I started on hosts, big computers that together with their hard drives filled rooms. I programmed on punch cards, and soon on monochrome screens with 24 lines of 80 characters, either green or amber. They were connected to – wait for it – the punch card reader to submit the programs. Business had a common language, the COmmon Business Oriented Language.
A few years later, the first PCs came to Switzerland, and I joined one of the first companies that did outsourced personal computer programming for the big banks and insurances. An interesting age of multiple languages like C, Clipper, DBase, Turbo Pascal, and new ways of dress code like t-shirt and jeans.
I survived old economy, new economy, and what ever came in-between and after. I learned new programming languages, operating systems, programming paradigms, software architecture, worked in small companies, from at home, and in international startups. And I saw the truth of the verses above. Skilled workers, such as me, are always in demand.
This might sound arrogant to the unemployed. That is not my intention. Believe me, I have been there several times. One time I have been unemployed for more than 2 years. Bad things happen, as we are in a world that does not ask for God’s will. And I am sorry if they happen to you right now. Just know: Jesus always provides a way through those times. He promised to never leave you nor forsake you.
If they happened to you in the past: buck up. Be a man – or a woman. It’s the past, you don’t live there any more.
If you are afraid that it might happen to you in the future: let go of your worries. Trust and obey – this is how faith is spelled.
But today, let me talk to the people that have a job and want to get out. People that feel called for more, especially for a job in the church. A real ministry. Let’s read the verse again:
Do you see a man skilled at his work?Pro 22:29
He will serve kings, not obscure people.
Be present. Do a good job. It will be honored. You will serve kings. Serve – the blunt and forward translation of the word minister. But ministry sounds more grand, yet Jesus said that who wants to be first has to serve others. Do not live in the future.
During the three decades in my profession, I had about 15 years in two distinct time periods I wanted to get out so badly I could hardly wait. Years I at times did not give my best because I was halfway gone, gone to the future, dreaming and hoping, waiting.
At first, I loved my job. It was great. I was good at it, and people recognized. Soon I was serving, excuse me, working for a great boss that truly esteemed what I did. My salary doubled within 3 years. Proverbs 22:29 in the workings.
But then, I started to dream of the fulfillment of God’s personal promise to me: full time ministry. Now, don’t pull political correctness on me and tell me that we all are in full time ministry. We sure are, but you know exactly what we mean with that phrase: being paid by a church or ministry to work with people. My dream did not manifest for years, and living in my future hope became a burden. Life had no joy for me, until. Until all would become real that I dreamt of. Thus, founding a family and having a great job did not bring the reward it could have brought. I missed so much living in my future. Wanting it too much.
The time came that I was so embittered that I turned my back on my dreams and the promises of God. If nobody wanted me in full time ministry, I did not want any more either. I concentrated on my job. I started with a second turn at university and studied math and computer sciences. After that I had some good jobs and landed a great one with another great boss as chief technical officer of an international startup. Again, Proverbs 22:29 at work. But.
None of this was God’s will. Thus God intervened. He shook me to get me out of rebellion – great work motivated by anger, distrust, impatience, and frustration. It took a while until I was ready to listen. And after two years he finally brought me into – no, not full time ministry – a new job as computer programmer. The next years I learned to become a diligent worker again, living in the present. Doing what had to be done, fulfilling my duties and more. And just so I did not go back to trust my job and my skills again, I went through 3 more bankruptcies and some more lay-offs. I have to confess that it took me a few years until I learned to live in the now, as there were other things we dealt with during those years.
Looking back through those years, I realize that I was able to serve into so many lives, and could have into so many more if I had lived in the now and enjoyed life doing his will. I realize how much I learned for what I am doing now. And even though I did not do my best during those years, it turned out good. For God turns everything to the good. Most of the things that happen to us are not God-sent so we learn something. Most of the time we are to blame for them ourselves, sometimes it’s the devil. But all the time God provides a way through and uses it so we can take with us a lesson, if we are willing.
So let me give you a life lesson from somebody that has been there, done that, got the t-shirt:
Be a diligent worker. Be present. Do not live in the future nor in the past. And stay close to God. Enjoy life now.
Addition in 2019
But you know what? Life has many turns, and I had to learn how much I was fooling me in the time I wrote this. I was trying to be who I am not, both living in unfulfilled dreams as much as living in the now. I was trying to fit in with traditional Christianity and meet the expectations of people that are not at all like me. Obedient diligent workers in the system.
To be a diligent worker does not mean to find your place in the machinery of human expectation built on age old interpretations of verses like the above, but to fulfil your calling that God has for your life.
And as I said, life has many turns. Some are journeys around the same old mountains, some are preparatory for later. Som become useful just by the grace of God that turns everything for the good.