Book Review for “The Art of Work”- Non Fiction Inspirational

The Art of Work: A Proven Path to Discovering What You Were Meant to Do

 

I really liked Jeff Goins latest book, “The Art of Work”. I have read other books written by this author and I follow his blog. He gives great advice on writing, publishing, marketing, and general life advice. This book is all about finding and following your “calling”, and according to Jeff, we all have one. I think this would make a great graduation gift, or a great retirement gift. I give it four stars. Great for teens and up.

Just Do It!

Na-free-Salt[1]

I Samuel 10:6-7 (NIV), “The Spirit of the Lord will come powerfully upon you, and you will prophesy with them; and you will be changed into a different person. Once these signs are fulfilled, do whatever your hand finds to do, for God is with you.”

Samuel tells Saul all of this after anointing him as the first King of Israel. Good advice. The Spirit of the Lord has come powerfully into us, for those of us who have received the Baptism of the Holy Spirit. How much more should we “do whatever our hands find to do?” God is with us. He has given us His power. What can stop us?

Colossians 3:23 (NLT), “Work willingly at whatever you do, as though you were working for the Lord rather than for people.”

Ephesians 6:7-8 (NAS), “With good will render service, as to the Lord, and not to men, knowing that whatever good thing each one does, this he will receive back from the Lord, whether slave or free.”

Sounds pretty simple, doesn’t it. If you are walking through your Church, or work, parking lot and there is garbage on the ground, pick it up. If you see that the garbage needs emptying, take it out. If you are entering the grocery store and there are others behind you, hold the door. Whatever your hand finds to do, not evil, not hurtful, harmful things, but helpful, beneficial things, do them. Notice that we are doing those things for the Lord. So maybe you haven’t been doing those things, especially at work, thinking that it wasn’t part of your job description. Do it anyway. Maybe you stopped doing those things because you never got a “thank you” or any recognition. God noticed.

That paycheck isn’t a gift from your boss, you earned it. However, it is a gift from God, the check, the job, the energy and wisdom to do the work. Those are all gifts. Be thankful, and show your appreciation by working hard. Be a good example. Show the world the work ethic of God. He doesn’t do shoddy work, He doesn’t “kill time” waiting for the whistle. He doesn’t have to be reminded to do His task. He isn’t late, He always shows up, and He keeps a good attitude. We are His kids, shouldn’t we behave like our Father.

Matthew 5:13-16 (Aramaic Bible in Plain English), “You are the salt of the earth, but if salt becomes insipid, with what will it be salted? It is good for nothing except to be thrown outside and to be trodden upon by people. You are the light of the world. You cannot hide a city that has been built upon a mountain. And they do not light a lamp and set it under a basket, but on a lampstand, and it gives light to all those who are in the house. Thus your light will shine before the children of men that they may see your good works, and may glorify your Father who is in Heaven.”

Need An Attitude Adjustment?

839783872cc5f3459412b7e3805f6925[1]

We tend to think of an attitude as a bad thing. We commonly hear parents of teenagers saying things like “he has an attitude”. But we can have a positive attitude or a negative attitude. We can have an attitude of gratitude or a complaining attitude. We can have an attitude that changes the world for the better or one that will change it for the worse.

Many things can affect our attitude… but only if we let them. Because, truthfully, our attitude is our choice. We may not be able to control everything that happens around us, or even to us, but we can control how we react to those things. We might even start out with a good attitude, only to find that it has gone sour somewhere along the way. How can we rightly judge our attitude? It’s always easy to see someone else’s, no always so easy to determine our own.

Matthew 12:34 says, “For the mouth speaks from the overflow of the heart.” A great place to start is to listen to what you are saying and before we can speak it out it goes through our heads first. So our thoughts are even more important, but usually it is easier to listen to our mouths as a starting point. Are you a “negative Nelly”? Are you quick to find fault in others, yourself, with your job, your finances…the weather? When discussions come up about changes, a new project or plans for the future, are you the one saying, “it will never work.”

Our attitude also affects our service to God. Over the years, I have seen many people (including myself) who have committed to serve in some way, greeting, ushering, or maybe working in the nursery, wanting to help out and be a part of the family, only to hear them speak negatively about it down the road. It started with the comments (or thoughts) of “I’d like to stay home today, but I have to usher again,” Next comes the “I greeted three times this month, can’t someone else ever do it”, and before you know it they become dissatisfied with almost everything. Those comments are red flags for an attitude adjustment. When serving becomes your only reason for attending church, instead of a genuine love for God, His word, and fellowship, you’re in trouble. If we don’t get our attitude right, soon we will be dropping out of serving, feeling burnt out and resentful, feeling like we don’t have a reason to go to church anymore. I’ve seen individuals and whole families fall victim to this bad attitude. Serving God, in any capacity is an honor, not a duty, obligation or a drudgery. The motivation has to be love.

It can be the same at your job. If you are working just for a paycheck, your attitude can quickly go south. You’ll think the hours are too long, the pay isn’t enough, your boss is selfish and the other workers are lazy. God hasn’t put you in that job just to provide for you financially, but so that you can be a light and show the love of Christ. Be a blessing to your employer. Set an example, work hard,(Christians should be the best workers in any job). Otherwise you will start to join in the complaints, maybe even become disrespectful to your supervisors or boss. This attitude doesn’t glorify God and eventually you will quit or get fired, or worse yet, just live a grouchy unthankful life.

“Work willingly at whatever you do, as though you were working for the Lord rather than for people.” (Colossians 3:23). Sounds pretty simple. We should help others, at church and in our personal lives. Make hats and mittens for the homeless and don’t complain about the cost of yarn or shipping (that one is for me). Serve in the church , joyfully, gratefully, knowing that you are blessing others and pleasing god. Be that city on a hill at your job, light the way to Jesus.

What Qualifies Us?

wekosh-quote-im-not-telling-you-its-going-to-be-easy-im-telling-you-its-going-to-be-worth-it[1]

What can we do in ourselves to become worthy? What work can we do to justify His love and favor? What is it that makes us deserving of our call, gifts and talents?

There is only one thing that can ever give us worth, favor, love and make us sure of our callings-surrendering to Jesus. we have to throw up our hands and say, “Lord, It’s not in me alone, I can’t do it. All my righteousness is just dirty rags. All my attempts, in my own strength, is just wood, hay and stubble. I need you.”

He alone makes us right with God. He alone gives us worth. Because He first loved up. Because He created us with a plan for our future, our calling is sure. It’s His plan, His finished work, His redemption, that makes us successful in our calling. He doesn’t make mistakes-ever. If He called you-He’ll equip you and you are the right person for the job.

It seems, more and more, as we draw closer to the final curtain, that there are two mindsets. One is that as long as we look like a Christian and talk like a Christian, we can “play church” without any kind of real commitment to Christ. Without investing in our relationship with Him, fellow believers or those who need our help. The other mind set seems to be a lack of security in our calling. A belief that we aren’t good enough, smart enough, strong enough, etc. to do what God asks or to fulfill our call. Time is too short for either of these ungodly thoughts.

We have to stop playing games. We need to do what God has called His church to do. Use those gifts and talents to further His kingdom. We need to admit our need for Him and the authority He has given us. It’s time to recognize that it isn’t anything we can do that qualifies us. It is Him. Period. It is His love, strength, forgiveness, and redemption. He made us worthy. Our worth is in Him.

God sees us as worthy because of the work of Jesus. God looks at us with love and pride. Then He looks at those who don’t know Him with love and compassion. He longs for them-those lost sheep. Our jobs are to stop looking at ourselves, negatively or too highly, and look at them. See their need for a savior. If we are so caught up in our own inadequacies and failings, we won’t ever step out and help those that are lost and dying. If we look on them with contempt, we won’t reach out, we will leave them in the dark and never bring them into the light.

No, my flesh is not worthy. But my spirit is His and my souls is being redeemed. If God can use murderers, adulterers, harlots, stubborn-uneducated fisherman, tax-collectors, liars and even a donkey, He can (and will) use me. If I let Him. No more excuses! This isn’t a “dress rehearsal”, this is the real deal. Get your focus off yourself and fix your eyes on Jesus. He’ll bypass your faults and our greatest so-called-strengths, and He’ll use us to save a lost and dying world. Pretty awesome isn’t it?

What Does God Want?

Really, what does He want? You could ask dozens of people and get dozens of different answers. Those answers would range from- obedience, praise and worship, money (tithes and offerings), time, energy, loyalty, attention, commitment, and the list could go on. All of those things are true, but doesn’t that make God sound like some ego-maniacal, dictator who lounges on a throne demanding attention and glory? Who wants that for a Father?
Simply put, God wants you. I know cliché. But He wants your heart. He asks all of those other things from you because those things benefit us. Let’s break this down a little. God doesn’t need your money, but He asks us to give 10% (tithe for the running of the Church and the support of the staff) and offerings (to help others), because He knows that “if we give, it will be given back to us”. (Luke 6:38). Also when we give to God, He promises to “Open the windows of heaven and pour out a blessing” (Mal 3:10). God wants us to praise Him because praise “stills the enemy and the avenger” (Ps 8:2), it makes Satan shut up and stops his actions against us. He asks us to work because He works with us (I Cor. 3:9). He doesn’t sit while we work, in fact “He works while we wait.” We work because the Church toilets need cleaning, those little noses in nursery need wiped. Those things bring us together as a family.
God is love! He doesn’t just possess, show, or talk about love, He is love. It is the very nature of God (I John 4:7). That’s why He loves everyone. He loves the drug addict, the prostitute, the serial killer, the child molester, everyone! But don’t be deceived they are not His children, or part of His family. His children are the ones who have surrendered their lives to Him. Those are the ones he promises to take care of. Because He is love and He wants all to be His children, He asks us to work together with Him to build His family. He doesn’t want this love to remain one sided. What does it benefit them if He loves them, but they never experience love for Him? Those others who have Satan as their father (and they don’t even know it), they need to be reached. They need to know God’s love. How can they be reached if we aren’t co-laboring with Christ.
Our ‘work’ for God, those things all mentioned in the first paragraph, and any other thing God may have asked of us, should come out of our love for God. If they are coming out a sense of obligation, duty or fear, the motivation is wrong. Even worse if they are coming out of self-righteousness and pride, it’s going to be harmful to you instead of helpful. What motivates your work? It’s easy to “grow weary in well doing” (Gal. 6:9) if we have the wrong attitude. I know I’ve been there. I’ve screamed in my head, “What do you want from me!” on more than one occasion. I had allowed the thoughts to take root in my heart that I was doing so much for him already, but that somehow that wasn’t enough, that He was demanding more. That I was lacking. Those are just a bunch of ugly lies, God doesn’t demand, we have a choice. At my worst moments of fear, illness, weakness and depression, God patiently reminded me that He loved me, that He wasn’t asking for a slave (being forced), but that He wanted a daughter who served from a heart of thankfulness and love. I had gone back to Egypt (slavery) when He wanted me in the Promised Land (a place of rest, provision and peace).
God showed His love for us through the ugliness and the shame on the cross. Jesus not only poured out His life’s blood on that tree, but also His great love and longing for us. When we know Him, (not know about Him with our reasoning mind, but know Him intimately in our hearts), we understand what He wants. He wants a relationship with Him, two way conversations, and fellowship. He wants us to spend time with Him, not in work or service but in relationship. Get these pictures in your head. First think about how you feel when your child obediently cleans their room, to the best of their ability. Now think of your little one sitting on your lap, with each of their little hands on either side of your face, looking into your eyes, and saying “I love you”. Which one touches you more?
Sure their room needs cleaned and we have to teach them responsibility, it’s for their own good after all (sounding familiar?), but first we want their love. The Church needs cleaned, bills need paid, and the lost need reached. But first and most importantly we need to accept God’s love for us, and love Him back, build a better relationship with Him. We don’t do that by work, but by sitting in His lap. All of those other things will get done and with the right motivation. Sounds easier, freer, and way more fun!
“Yes I have loved you with an everlasting love: therefore with lovingkindness I have drawn you.” Jeremiah 31:3

Sitters and Chasers

I went to a graduation at a small Christian school last night. I used to teach there and the single high school graduate had been one of my students for five years. I see her every Sunday and Wednesday at Church and the couple of days a week I volunteer, at the school in the office and the kitchen. But all of a sudden, last night, in her cap and gown, up on stage, giving her speech, she looked different. She was grown up. She wasn’t sitting in the class room waiting to graduate. She was done-she’s gone from a sitter to a chaser. Off to college in a big city in the fall, chasing her dreams. My prayer for her is that she doesn’t randomly run after whatever sparkles and looks enticing, but that she sits and listens to that still small voice as well. Time spent chasing rainbows is wasted time. Time spent chasing out destiny, is time well used.

 

After the ceremony, the little ones sang and did hand bells, super cute, 3, 4, and 5 year olds. After wards, mothers and fathers were chasing little ones down, trying to get pictures. Grandmas and Grandpas were sitting, and watching, proud of their families. Two mothers sat their three year olds next to each other on chairs for a picture. A little blonde princess in an orange dress the dark little gentleman in his vest and tie, everyone stared and smiled. She leaned in and put her head on his shoulder, he put his tongue in his cheek and got that ‘deer in the headlights’ look. The princess’s father laughed! The mothers, grandmothers, well pretty much any woman who stood there smiled at the cuteness of it all. Latter, I was thinking of the difference in boys and girls. Boys are chasers, because they love to be chased. Girls are sitters, because they love to be caught. Unfortunately, it doesn’t work well that way. The boys run by and practically beg to be chased (they really don’t want to be caught, just chased) and the girls sit and look at them, longing to be captured (and they hate running in their princess dresses and glass slippers).

Sitters and Chasers. Some of us sit and watch the world pass us by. Some of us chase it down and demand all we can get out of it, only to find that it wasn’t what we really wanted, the fun was in the chase, not the capture. We look at what we caught, what we hold in our hand with a death grip, refusing to give up what we worked so hard for, only to see that it is fool’s gold. Can’t we be both? Do we only have to choose to either sit, or chase? I say yes! Sit first; hear what God has planned for you. Then when he shows you the path, run! Don’t look back to see who’s running with you, don’t look to the left or the right to see what other paths are being taken, just go for it. Sometimes, we get to sit for a spell, rest up, recalculate (like Lola-the voice of my garmen), but we always have to get back up. I guess we even slow down at times, when the road gets scary, and the path gets hairy, but still…move ahead.

Beauty’s Curse Coming Soon!

Just sent Beauty’s Curse to be reviewed at Createspace. There is always such an excitement when I know it is almost in print! I loved this story and hated for it to come to an end. It ended up being a rather short book, but at least that means I can retail it for less. I am blessed to be able to do something I love. I put in years of working for others, some jobs I loved and some that weren’t so wonderful, I only had one I hated. (That was doing something I loved for a very greedy person who just wasn’t cut out to own their own business). Very Thankful for the opportunity to write and to share my stories with others. Thanks to everyone who is taking the time to read my work!