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“Let me be employed by thee or laid aside for thee; exalted for thee or brought low for thee.”

January 4, 2023
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Daily Scripture

1 Peter 1:13-19, 22-25

13 Therefore, once you have your minds ready for action and you are thinking clearly, place your hope completely on the grace that will be brought to you when Jesus Christ is revealed. 14 Don’t be conformed to your former desires, those that shaped you when you were ignorant. But, as obedient children, 15 you must be holy in every aspect of your lives, just as the one who called you is holy. 16 It is written, You will be holy, because I am holy [Leviticus 19:2]. 17 Since you call upon a Father who judges all people according to their actions without favoritism, you should conduct yourselves with reverence during the time of your dwelling in a strange land. 18 Live in this way, knowing that you were not liberated by perishable things like silver or gold from the empty lifestyle you inherited from your ancestors. 19 Instead, you were liberated by the precious blood of Christ, like that of a flawless, spotless lamb.

22 As you set yourselves apart by your obedience to the truth so that you might have genuine affection for your fellow believers, love each other deeply and earnestly. 23 Do this because you have been given new birth—not from the type of seed that decays but from seed that doesn’t. This seed is God’s life-giving and enduring word. 24 Thus,
All human life on the earth is like grass,
and all human glory is like a flower in a field.
The grass dries up and its flower falls off,
25 but the Lord’s word endures forever [Isaiah 40:6-8].
This is the word that was proclaimed to you as good news.

Daily Reflection & Prayer

Many people have said that half of this part of the Covenant Prayer is easy and energizing to pray, while they’d rather skip the other half. Why not just pray “let me be employed…and exalted for thee”? We can’t control that. Pastor Chris Folmsbee noted, “I know of many who, for various reasons, are unable to be as productive as they wish they could be. Chronic pain, depression, disability, and aging all…play into the reality that all of us become, at some point in our lives, less productive.” *

  • The most pleasant part of this prayer is, “Let me be employed by thee…exalted for thee.” The creation stories (cf. Genesis 1:28-29, 2:15) said God created humans to do useful, helpful work. Yet this too often morphs into gratifying our own ego. The apostle Paul left us a model when some church members were pitting him against Apollos in a kind of “who’s the best preacher?” debate (cf. 1 Corinthians 4:1-13). When have you been satisfyingly employed in doing God’s work?
  • On the other hand, when (if ever) have you had an experience that felt like being laid aside, even brought low, for God? Nichole Nordeman wrote and sang, “In the end I’d like to hang my hat on more besides the temporary trappings of this world…. Not well-traveled, not well-read, not well-to-do or well-bred. Just want to hear instead, ‘Well done, good and faithful one.’” ** Can you pray authentically that you will accept any position, high or low, while serving God?
Prayer

Lord Jesus, I want to serve you and your kingdom. But, although this is hard to pray, I want to serve you selflessly, for your sake rather than mine. Use me in ways that bring glory to you, not to me. Amen.

GPS Insights

Gwyn Thomas

Gwyn Thomas

Gwyn Thomas joined the Resurrection staff in 2021 and serves in Donor Relations. She’s a Boston native and moved to Kansas City in 2020 when her husband Blake accepted a call at Resurrection West to lead their student ministries! Her favorite pastimes include pottery, hiking, frisbee, trying new restaurants, and spending time with Blake and their large orange cat, Tuna.

I try my best to pay special attention to how God is at work in my life and through my life every day, especially when it pertains to my job. That’s a little easier to do when you work at a church. We start our meetings in prayer and ask for God’s guidance as we make decisions. My relationships with colleagues are both personal and professional because we recognize that we are doing life together. It’s been really fulfilling to work at Resurrection because I never thought I would be working in full-time ministry!

The plan (my plan) was to be a high school math teacher. My calculus teacher in high school had a profound impact on the way I saw myself performing in the classroom. That all changed when I went to college and a lot of the conversations with friends and professors were about the idea of success. I felt this unknown anxiety rise in me. I thought I got to choose a degree that made me happy–now I have to consider my growth track for the next 40 or so years of my career? The fear got to me, and I changed course. I pursued a Business and Economics degree for a few reasons, many of which were great-intentioned like wanting to hone in on some of my natural skills like analytics and statistics. But there was a major driving factor in my decision; success. At the time, I was calling it “opportunity.” I wanted to make certain I was opening all the right doors for myself.

Right out of college, I was working on the 47th floor of one of the largest skyscrapers in the Chicago downtown loop. I started in entry level accounting and was promoted within my first year to work on the project management team. Finally, the success I’ve been waiting for! 6 months out of college, and had I peaked already? This could not be the peak, because I was not happy. I was shocked by the culture and the work environment. I remember praying for a sign I was listening to God’s plan for my life, and after praying that realizing–I didn’t pray that often enough. Once I started listening to God, I found doors opening that I wasn’t expecting. I accepted a role at a nonprofit that was deeply close to my heart and success began to look different in my life. My career wasn’t about the money anymore, it was about changing the world and being a vessel for God.

Now, working at Resurrection, I clearly see God’s work through me. I think it’s more than the fact that I work for a church, however. I think we are all called to do ministry in our jobs and be laid aside for God’s work in the world. When we ask God to set our intentions on more than worldly success and opportunity, we can find success and opportunity in making the world more like the kingdom.

© 2022 Resurrection: A United Methodist Church. All Rights Reserved.
Scripture quotations are taken from The Common English Bible ©2011. Used by permission. All rights reserved.
References

* Folmsbee, Chris. The Wesley Prayer Challenge Participant Book (p. 65). Abingdon Press. Kindle Edition.

** Nichole Nordeman, “Legacy.” Lyrics found at https://www.azlyrics.com/lyrics/nicholenordeman/legacy.html.