May 2, 2014

It’s All Good / Patti Lamb

God’s opinion is the one that truly matters in life

Patti LambI have a dear friend with an especially giving spirit and a loving heart. Because she’s a perfectionist—and I mean that in the nicest way possible—she gives everything 110 percent. She averages more than 60 hours per week at her job, even though she’s not paid overtime.

Recently, she received her annual performance review, and she was heartily disappointed. Although she gives work her all, her latest review was riddled with suggestions for improvement. Little attention was given to her strengths and all the things she does exceedingly well.

Even more disheartening is the fact that several of her colleagues who don’t put in nearly as much time and effort are receiving glowing marks on their performance appraisals. Incidentally, these folks are quite chummy with the boss.

“I’m not sure what more I can give,” she said. Then she cited multiple examples of ways she goes above and beyond merely meeting expectations. I’ve repeatedly seen her work, and I can attest to her dedication.

When we last spoke, I just scratched my head and became miffed on behalf of my friend and all those who work hard and receive little in return. Since our last meeting, however, I found a Bible verse that provides great comfort. (Better late than never, friend.)

“Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters, since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward. It is the Lord you are serving” (Col 3: 23-24).

How easy this is to forget, especially when our peers are being rewarded with titles, corner offices, company cars, cash bonuses and accolades within their industries.

I don’t want to take away from those who work hard and are deserving of such recognition. But often, so many who give their all are not recognized, although God looks upon their efforts with great affection.

Everyone will be rewarded in heaven for working from their hearts. And when I say “working,” I don’t just mean what we do to earn paychecks. Too often, we define ourselves by our careers, but that’s not how God sees us.

Our jobs are really only a piece of who we are. Whether we serve as cooks, mechanics, doctors, custodians, baby sitters, cashiers, musicians or semitrailer drivers, we are called to work in even greater ways.

We are called to the roles of mothers, fathers, sisters, brothers, aunts, uncles, friends and neighbors. We are called to the work of Christians and to building a community of believers.

First and foremost, we are called to the work of loving each other—starting with our families, friends, and neighbors and working outside of that circle to embrace all God’s people.

Wherever God has placed us at this moment—whether we’re students, professionals, in between jobs or retired, we can work for God in so many ways.

And when we encounter earthly critics, we must remember that God’s opinion is the one that ultimately matters.

If we gave ourselves an annual Christian performance review, how would we score? Even if I’m the best and brightest tax accountant, it really doesn’t matter unless I’m pleasing and serving God and his people.

To my friend, who is frustrated with her performance review: God is our true boss, the one to whom we report. And I’m confident that he smiles on your efforts—both inside and outside of your office. Keep calm and work unto the Lord.

(Patti Lamb, a member of St. Susanna Parish in Plainfield, is a regular columnist for The Criterion.)

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