18 – The Three Priorities of the Christian Worker
What are the priorities of the man who wants to serve God? Where should he “aim” his energy?
We can best answer these questions if we first answer another question, “What do people need?” To truly serve God is to meet the needs of people. If we can determine what people need, then we will know what kind of Christian worker people need and, hence, what our priorities should be.
So, what do people need? We live in a broken generation. Billy Graham has said that people attend his crusades for one or more of four unmet needs: loneliness, emptiness, guilt, and a fear of death. People are hurting, and they need a message from God, a word, a touch from the living Lord. People need healing, encouragement, hope, salvation, and truth. They need someone who has been in contact with God. What do people need? People need God, because apart from God life has no meaning.
If this is what people need, then what kind of Christian worker do people need?
1. People need a Christian worker who has been with God.
2. People need a Christian worker whose life recommends his message.
3. People need a Christian worker who will bring them into contact with the living God.
These propositions suggest three priorities for the man who would serve our great God: 1) Our walk with God, 2) our private lives, and 3) our work for God. Let’s probe each of these at some depth.
1. Our Walk With God
Because people need a Christian worker who has been with God, our first priority must be our walk with God.
We live in a harsh world, a fallen world, a mean world, a world that grinds people up. In the midst of this pain people need to visibly see someone who is authentic. They need to see, feel, touch a man who has found peace and joy in the midst of Solomon’s “meaninglessness” and Paul’s “futility”. Unless we anchor ourselves to the Rock we will be just another piece of driftwood driven by the winds of adversity and the waves of affliction.
What happens to the man who has been “with God”? When I first became a follower of Christ I knew that God was bigger, greater, higher than I was — but I didn’t think by that much! However, as we come into relationship with God and study His character and attributes, we soon realize He is so much more than we first imagined. Then one day we look in the mirror and realize we are not as high as we once thought.
In time, this profound difference between God and us fills us with deep gratitude for all that God has done and is doing in our lives. The command to love God with all of our heart, soul, mind, and strength moves from abstract to personal. We really do love Him!
Then something wonderful happens. We find it illustrated in Acts 4:13 when Peter and John were questioned before the Sanhedrin. “When they saw the courage of Peter and John and realized that they were unschooled, ordinary men they were astonished and they took note that these men had been with Jesus.”
So what is the message for us? Let us live our lives in such a way that people can tell we have been ‘with Jesus’. Is there a melody in your heart for Jesus? A man who will be “with God” in Bible study, prayer, meditation, self-examination, and adoration will become the kind of Christian worker people need.
2. Our Private Lives
Because people need a Christian worker whose life recommends his message, our second priority is to take responsibility for our private lives.
Can you think of any bigger “turn off” than a man with unbridled zeal to build the kingdom, but a marriage rocky from neglect, out-of-control kids, and habitually unpaid bills all around town? In short, a man whose life doesn’t recommend his message? The only thing that’s worse is to listen to him “spiritualize” about his irresponsibility.
Every man who would serve the Lord must take personal responsibility for his own private life in four areas:
1. His relationship with his wife.
2. His relationship with his children.
3. His personal finances.
4. His health.
A caution. Even though we take responsibility for our private lives, that doesn’t mean our lives are untouched by the effects of the fall. The nature of life is tragic. Christians still get cancer, get cheated, have accidents, experience disappointments and suffer setbacks. We must all eat the bread of affliction.
The nature of the kingdom, however, is “righteousness, peace, and joy in the Holy Spirit” (Romans 10:17). Though our lives are associated with tragedy much of the time, our lives are not tragic because we have the kingdom.
Imagine walking into the reception area of a physician’s office. A pale, chalky faced receptionist greets you with a hacking cough. You see a nurse go into the rest room, then hear her wretch. A wheezing physician’s assistant with baggy black eyes comes to usher you into what must be the morgue. What would you do? If you’re like me, you’d run for your life!
Too often, that’s exactly the impression of the kingdom we give to those who have come to see the Great Physician. Tragedy has touched their lives. They have heard about Jesus, that He is a healer, a physician. God has so ordered His kingdom that to see Him they must first see us. We are the reception room. Yet, if our lives do not recommend our message, they will be driven away. We are ambassadors of the kingdom, not pallbearers.
Our “task” is to show people the difference, that God is real, and He is good. The second priority of a man who would serve God is to take responsibility for his private life, because people need a Christian worker whose life recommends his message.
3. Our Work For God
Because people need a Christian worker who will bring them into contact with the living God, our third priority is our work for God. But what is the work God would have us do?
Jesus came to seek and to save the lost. Our mission is to persuade men and to help them know God. When we show men the God who is, and not just the milk of human sympathy for their tragic lives, they will be compelled to fall to the ground before His holiness and love.
He is the Almighty, sovereign, omnipotent, omniscient, omnipresent, omnibenevolent, holy, gracious, self-existent, infinite, invisible, eternal, creator God, the King of Kings and Lord of Lords, the Wonderful Counselor in whom there is no shadow of turning.
He is the one who convicts, converts, saves, justifies, sanctifies, and glorifies. He is the one who gives men rest for their souls. St. Augustine said, “I have read in Plato and Cicero sayings that are very wise and very beautiful, but I have never read in either, ‘Come unto me all you who labor and are heavy laden. . . .'”
Unless our work for God brings people into contact with One who changes men’s lives our work will be in vain. Thank God for soup kitchens, building committees, fellowship dinners, pro-life counseling clinics, anti-pornography campaigns, and every other Christian responses to human need. Yet, the “end game” calling of the Christian worker is to build the kingdom.
All around us lies the brokenness of sin. Solving people’s problems apart from the salvation of God only rearranges their pain. What people need is a Christian worker who will bring them into contact with the living God.
1. Your Walk With God
Have you been living your life in such a way that people can tell you have been ‘with Jesus’? __ yes __ no
What are three specific steps you can take to improve your walk with God?
2. Your Private Life
Can people see a difference between the way tragedy has touched you and the way it has touched them? __ yes __ no
Do your relationships, personal finances, and health recommend Christ? __ yes __ no
3. Your Work For God
Is your ministry bringing people into contact with the living God? __ yes __ no
If not, what changes should you make?
If you don’t presently have a “work for God” do you have the desire to be a worker for God? What have you learned that will help you in your search for His calling?
Business leader, author, and speaker, Patrick Morley has been used throughout the world to help men and leaders think more deeply about their lives, to be reconciled with Christ, and to equip them to have a larger impact on the world.
© 1995. Patrick M. Morley. All rights reserved.