Looking For That Needle Of Superiority

Do you remember the point I repeated my last post? Our faith-filled obedience to God pleases Him and sanctifies our work. The good news is that while the type of work we do differs, God’s pleasure is the same whatever our work is! I mentioned that my son, Jesse, made this point in a Sunday message he preached a couple of years ago as a pastor in our former church. A while after this message, it became clear that the financial downturn in our country was having affects on our church. To provide some financial relief, Jesse offered to start using his Computer Science degree and is now working for his older brother who owns an IT company. While he misses pastoral ministry greatly, he recently said that he experiences the same sense of God’s pleasure helping clients with computer problems as when he preaches.

Did you believe him? I didn't.

If that seems like a stretch to you, too, you might want to join me in investigating your heart for vestiges of sinful pride. Why? Because pride elevates people (including the work they do) over other people (and the work they do). Sinful pride:

  • can tempt the home schooling mother to feel her work makes her a more devoted mom than those who send their children to school.
  • minimizes the nobility of one person's work as an air conditioning repair tech compared to a successful attorney.
  • can lead to resentment in the stay-at-home mom, the working wife and mother, or the guy working to pay his way through grad school -- all of whom feel what they do day after day isn’t nearly as important as the work the others do.

Consider this quote by author and pastor, Dave Harvey:

needle“Throughout our history, we humans have proven quite adept at finding any presumed needle of superiority—whether race, class, income, education, position, or something else—in our haystack of similarities.”

Work is one of the ways we are tempted to feel superior or inferior to others. Either reaction is rooted in pride. My pride can either tempt me to arrogantly elevate myself over others because of my (or my husband or children’s) work, or tempt me to arrogant self-pity because I think I’m more important than the work that I (or my husband or children) do. Dave’s provocative point is excellent: Our similarities far outweigh our differences. As Christians, we have been bought with a price — the blood of His son. Why, then do we focus on our differences rather than on our similarities? Could it be because we are looking for a superior place to land compared to others?

What thoughts does this produce in your heart and mind? Do you find yourself comparing yourself (or your spouse, children, siblings, parents) to others based on the duties and work that you and they do? Does this produce superiority or inferiority? What does this say about your heart?

I'm asking myself if I experience God's pleasure as much when I'm cleaning a dirty toilet as when I'm closing an IT sale. (Yes, I am also blessed to be working for my son to help grow his IT business and help out financially during these challenging times.) It's not that cleaning the toilet has the same benefits as selling IT. What's critical to me thinking biblically is that both are done in faith that I'm doing what God has called me to do at that moment: whether I'm cleaning the toilet or bringing in some added income for our family, I'm serving those I love and pleasing God with faith-filled obedience. What peace.

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