How are you managing the grind?
We are in the middle of a series I’m calling Managing it… We have thought about how everything we have belongs to God and we wondered how are we managing it all? Are we putting God first? Or does God get our left overs? And I had us do a little thought experiment…to put God first. We wondered, ideally, what would I want to give to God, to those in need, and to God?
Last week we thought about how we manage fear. Fear is really a part of the human condition. It can help us, but it can also over function and laser focus us on all that we can’t and shouldn’t and don’t have. Fear can put blinders on us a like a horse, but Paul told us though that that spirit of fear is not from God. God did not give us a spirit of fear. God gave us a spirit of power, love, and self-discipline. Through prayer and meditation, Jesus helps us release fear, take the blinders off, and regain God’s power and love. So that we are no longer operating out of fear, we are operating out of God’s power and love.
Today the question for this message is “How are you Managing the Grind?” We all have a grind…
I don’t know if you have had this experience but have you ever gotten excited about the idea of something, but then when it comes time to make it happen, it’s less appealing.
It’s the grind of commitment. It’s the grind of getting out of bed on a cold dark morning to go running with your friend like you promised. It’s the grind of showing up to be the greeter when you haven’t had a minute to sit down all week, but you said you would help out. It’s the grind of commitment.
And then there’s the grind of responsibility.
The other day when I was out shopping I came across a t-shirt that said in fancy script letters “not adulting today.”
This word adulting is a relatively new word. It means “the practice of behaving in a way characteristic of a responsible adult, especially the accomplishment of mundane but necessary tasks.”
Mundane but necessary tasks.
I hear a lot of young parents say… the struggle is real.
It’s the grind of responsibility after a long day at work and pressure … the kids are whining about watching TV and the dishes from breakfast still need to be done and there comes a point some time after thanksgiving when it really seems that the leaves never will stop falling. It’s the grind of responsibility.
There’s a grind that is a part of every generation I would imagine. When money gets tight and bosses try to squeeze more out of their employees. Do more with less time. We see it at the hospital. Physicians are asked to double book patients and answer patient emails and phone calls. So patients routinely wait over an hour to see their physician for a 15 minute appointment, during which the physician is distracted by text messages and phone calls several times.
It’s the grind of productivity.
And at times we can start to wonder what the point of it all is. What is the meaning and purpose in the grind? It feels like we are just enduring, going through the motions for no reason. Does it really amount to anything at all … mundane but necessary tasks.
Today we hear Paul again encouraging Timothy. We know that Paul likely wrote this letter from prison in Rome and was facing execution. The Roman empire was hunting down Christians at that time to get rid of Christianity through imprisonment, torture, and even execution.
Paul says to Timothy they may chain me to the wall in this prison, but it is okay because I know that the word of God can never be chained down and it will survive even when I don’t. So he tells Timothy to endure because when we endure we will also reign with God.
Paul says if we endure we will also reign with God.
So I would venture to guess that we would all choose our grind over what Paul went through. I would guess that none of us can comprehend what it would be like to endure being chained to a wall in an ancient Roman prison awaiting execution.
Paul and Timothy endured torture that most of us cannot even imagine.
However, in our modern American country with all its modern conveniences, depression is on the rise. A recent study that came out this summer showed that marital and life satisfaction decreases when couples have young children in the home, and this week I attended a grand rounds on physician burnout and was shocked to learn that one physician commits suicide every day in the United States. We are not chained to stone walls, but the struggle is indeed real for so many of us and so many of our friends and neighbors.
Daily life … family … work … those mundane necessary tasks … the pressure from work can stack up so much that we can begin to wonder about the meaning and purpose of it all.
But Paul tells us today that there is purpose in our endurance, your efforts are seen. Jesus sees what you are doing, all the little things, and Paul says “When you endure the grind you will also reign with God.”
So what does Paul mean that when we endure we will also reign with God? When we endure the grind, when we are faithful to those mundane but necessary tasks, when life feels like it is a series of one thing after another without a lot of reason or meaning – do not lose hope because our God infuses meaning and purpose in it all. Because we serve a personal God in Christ Jesus who takes note. A God who is not far from us but sees us and watches us. He looks at how we are managing all that we have. He gives us power and love to manage our fear and he sees our efforts. He takes note of every little thing and when he sees us enduring, he infuses all that mundane effort with purpose and meaning.
In Matthew 25:23 Jesus tells us that when we are faithful with a few things God will put us in charge of many things.
And here Paul is telling us that we will reign with God, be put in charge of many things in God’s Kingdom. We will be leaders. We will be leaders in Kingdom reality. We will be leaders of unconditional love and peace that surpasses all understanding, joy unspeakable, compassion, strength, mercy.
Jesus takes note of your faithfulness in the grind and puts you in charge of his kingdom reality.
So the dishes again, the board room again, the tie again. The grind may have lost its meaning and purpose for you. But it is not lost on God. We have a God who takes note. A God who sees your faithfulness in the mundane, your effort and because of your faithfulness in the few things, because of your endurance, he will put in places to lead with him in joy and love and peace.
So you might be wondering how this applies to you really. You are not even hoping to be in a place of leadership at your job or perhaps you are long retired, or not working right now. So how is God going to put you in places to lead with joy and love and peace?
I hate to tell you but you do not have to have a job to lead with God in his kingdom reality. When you are faithful with the few things, when you endure the grind, Jesus will make you to reign with him wherever you are.
Paul was chained against a Roman prison wall. He told Timothy to endure. Anyone around them would have told them they were mentally insane to think that they would ever lead anything. And yet here we are thousands of years later meditating on his words in this place and nearly every church across the world has or will similarly meditate on these words today.
You do not have to have a job or be physically well or even be a free citizen to lead with God. When you endure as paul tells us, you will reign with God.
So in the week ahead, when you are in the grind of traffic, dishes, pressure, raking the leaves … Remember that Jesus sees you working, enduring the grind, and he has infused your daily grind with meaning and purpose. Because when you faithfully endure those few things Jesus will make you to lead with his joy, his love, his peace, and compassion.