Temp for ChristBlog / Produced by The High Calling
Back when we were first married, we lived in Hollywood and my wife worked for a major entertainment company. That sounds more glamorous than it was, I'm afraid. Beth will be the first to tell you. She was "just a temp," a temporary worker, sent to the company from the temp agency. She ended up staying for eight months.
At the time, I was a minister to young adults at a church in Hollywood, and many of them were "temping" as well. Like Beth, they answered phones, sorted the mail, brewed coffee, and did everything that nobody else wanted to do.
Temping, for some like Beth, was just a way to pay the bills until the next phase of life. (We were trying to get me through seminary.) Others were trying to make it in another industry and were temping until they got a "real job." Indeed, most "temps" complained about how they were treated with low pay, long hours, and the like, but secretly they hoped to follow the road of the famous TV temp, Ryan of "The Office." Ryan went on to become a corporate executive for the Dunder Mifflin paper company (before he got arrested and fired, but that's another story . . .)
There's just something transient about temping. It is so temporary. No matter how bad a real job may be, at least it isn't a temp job. No matter how much you really want a dream job, it's hard to turn down the security, benefits, title, and potential future of working full time for a big company.
In many ways, we Christians are always temps no matter where we work or what we do. It is natural to want the security, position, and perks of belonging to the world, (or even a little part of the world like a corporation). We may work for a company, but Christians are called to see ourselves as temps who actually are owned by someone else. We have been bought with a price. Sure, we make it a priority to serve the company where we are temping, but we serve in the name of the one who bought us. Paul gave instructions to "slaves" regarding their earthly "masters." His language sometimes sounds odd in our ears today, but it is quite helpful: Serve them sincerely because of your reverent fear of the Lord. Work willingly at whatever you do, as though you were working for the Lord rather than for people. Remember that the Lord will give you an inheritance as your reward, and that the Master you are serving is Christ. (Col. 3:22b-24, NLT). Once we realize that our true Owner is the one who owns everything, then our work in any setting demonstrates where our true priorities lie. But of course, that raises a bigger issue: Does our work reflect our priorities? Do we intentionally seek to demonstrate the difference that Christ makes in our lives through our work?
Many of us, instead, live out a split-existence: We work for "the man," "the company," or the "corporation" Monday through Friday during business hours. And we serve our "Master" on Sundays and during "free time." (Of course we mostly serve ourselves, through both, but that's another issue, isn't it?) And that split-existence diminishes the effectiveness of our witness.
Instead, we are called to be those who serve in every sector of society, including our careers and in our workplaces as vastly different "workers":
- We are to be more in "awe" of God (which is what "reverent fear" in the passage above means) than we are fearful of those who have the power of the payroll.
- We know that whomever we serve, we are actually serving the Lord himself (consider that next time you abruptly put a person on "hold" when they call!)
- We know that our ultimate "payment" is our Lord's pleasure ("Well done, good and faithful slave!" Matt. 25:21).
Ultimately, no matter how long we work someplace, or for that matter how long we live, we are all "temps" who belong to Christ and are working for the Kingdom of God. May God's Kingdom come and his will be done, in us . . . at work.