A Workman Approved

“His master replied, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant! You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things.  Come and share your master’s happiness!’

  • Matthew 25:21

I could have quoted 2 Timothy 2 where it says that we should not act like a workman who is approved, not needing to be humble.  I am not speaking of our sinfulness or our need for humility.  But have you ever loved a job so much that you voluntarily worked for free, just a moment here or there?

The extreme of working for free was something that I witnessed in Thailand.  I worked with two other people to develop computer-based training.  Our contract was woefully behind schedule when I joined the department.  I was not the boss of this trio, but I gathered the information for the weekly progress reports and relayed the occasional admonishment from the boss when someone’s work was slipping.  We were to stay in Thailand until the project was completed, at least our phase of the project – researching the technical information, writing all the lessons, and taking enough adequate photographs to illustrate the lessons, including a few videos if possible.  We had been there over a month and had a visa for a couple more weeks.  We were planning to fly to Singapore for the weekend and then return, to be allowed to stay another month.  Hint: when given 30 days without a visa, leave the country, then return to reset the 30 days.

Then, one fateful day, I got a call from our boss back in the US.  “Get the other two guys to pack their bags and meet you in the lobby at 1:00am.  I have arranged a car to take you to the airport.  You are coming home.  Now!!”  I argued that we were not finished, and the boss told me that the customer was bankrupt, and we were not going to be paid for the work already done.  In fact, the customer had not paid their employees for several weeks, but the employees kept coming to work – to be with their work family.  I was also instructed to not give a reason to anyone, just kick the other guys in the backside and get them moving.

Why did these Thai people work without being paid?  It is part of their culture to be loyal to family and they consider a work group as family.

I do not think that I would go that far, but maybe.

But if you are salaried, I am sure you have worked unpaid overtime to get a job finished on schedule.  That is not what I am saying either.

Twice in my life I have had a job that was so enjoyable, I went to the “office” for the fun of working.  When I first started out as an engineer, I was assigned the job of mathematical modelling of chemical processes to improve efficiency of the petrochemical plant.  I ended up saving the company millions of dollars each year – never getting a bonus, but the pay was increased nicely.

On occasion, I would work for eight hours, then go to graduate school in the evening for four hours, then back to the office.  I would check the printer for the results of my latest calculations and then type some corrective punch cards and run the program again.  Some of my calculations were so huge that the program only ran at night when no one else was using the computer.  It was a small mainframe computer, but today there is probably more computing power in our phones, and a lot faster.  I would feed the cards into the computer and then come back an hour early, about six hours later, and get the results – letting the operators know what adjustments to make before the day crew arrived.  Of course, this was before I got married, but I did some midnight oil work after we were married, but not as much.

The second “job” is right now, writing these blog posts.  In the first case, I thought I was helping the company and simply doing a service.  But now, it is doing service that God has called me to do.  Yes, I would not mind getting paid to do this, but I have the website set up to not make money nor to help others make money through advertisements.  Our needs, for the time being, are being met.  And whenever I am not so tired that I drag myself around the house, I am either researching or writing.

I love my job, because the God of the universe called me to this job.  And the Joy that He provides keeps me going.  I am like the servants who worked hard to double what their master had provided them.  And I never heard these words from my mother, but I know Jesus is true to His promises.  I look forward to hearing, “Well done, good and faithful servant!”  May I be ever humble so that I might always continue to strive for that goal.  It is when you think you have done enough that you might falter.  Never a workman approved, always a workman striving to one day be approved, confident in the salvation already obtained.

Soli Deo Gloria.  Only to God be the Glory.


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  1. When I retired from teaching, that is when I started my little blog. Even though it is more or less a hobby, I have always approached it as a job— in part because it was my transition from ‘real’ world work to retirement—- I know advertisers pay bloggers but I’ve always paid to have an ad free blog because I find the ads distracting from the content and at times, inappropriate, especially given some of what my current subject matter might be.
    But yes, i always wished I could get paid doing what I do with the blog because of the amount of time, research and work that goes into most posts— but alas—- it is a dedicated hobby 😎

    Liked by 1 person

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