“Who Do You Work For?”

Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men, knowing that from the Lord you will receive the inheritance as your reward. You are serving the Lord Christ. – Colossians 3:23-24

I’m sharing my struggle with those of you who know what it is to struggle with craving acceptance. The desire, or even compulsion, to want to make everyone in your life happy motivates you, and depletes you, at the same time.

The past few months I have had some professional help identifying, and then asking God to bring healing to the broken places of my life. It is a journey I am still on, and one that while it has exhausted me at times, is allowing my mind and heart to see some things for what they are (the good, the bad, and the ugly) in my life.

My lesson to date can be summed up as this – when I make pleasing my family, my friends, my church, my community (both near and far) the top priority in my life I am NOT helping anyone, nor am I living the life that God has given me to live for His glory. You see, as soon as I please one person, maybe even five or ten at the same time, I’m inevitably disappointing someone else. Then I get on the crazy cycle of trying to please those whom I’ve disappointed, only to let down others. And it goes on, and on, and on.

When I get on this people pleasing frenzy, I am saying to God, and saying to others, that they have a more important role in my life than He does. I’ve run into this truth up front and personally this week. It has not been fun. It has made me think all the time I’ve invested into being a wife, mom, pastor’s wife, friend, and more have been a waste. What a lie that is. It is a lie I don’t want to live. I know that my life does matter. Not because of me, but because of Who made me.

So my fellow people pleasers, would you join me in putting First things first in our lives? Loving others in the process, but realizing that our value does not come from them, it comes from the One who made us.

It’s Not Because of the Work

by Sarah Langness

I’m not a big birthday person. I’m okay with your birthday and his birthday or her birthday. Just not mine. And it has nothing to do with the fact that a birthday means I’m older. It’s all the attention. What are you supposed to do when a group of people sings “Happy Birthday” to you? Opening up presents in front of other people? That’s one of my least favorite things to do. And really, it’s just my birthday. Frankly, I didn’t do anything. My mom did all the work; I was just . . . born.

Mother’s Day, on the other hand, I like. Yesterday I celebrated my second Mother’s Day (and my little man’s first birthday- hooray!). I suppose if you applied my same “anti-birthday” logic to Mother’s Day, you’d think I didn’t care for this May holiday much either. But it’s much different in my mind. Sure, there’s attention – but it’s not all on me. There are LOTS of people being celebrated on Mother’s Day. There’s no song in which you sit awkwardly in front of a cake and stack of presents. And Mother’s Day – I feel like I earned it. Like it’s a day of recognition and appreciation for all I do as a mom. And I think it’s a pretty great idea!

I guess, what it all boils down to is this: I didn’t work for my birthday, so the love and greetings I receive seem undeserved. But for Mother’s Day – yeah, I do a lot of work. So I guess I feel like I deserve to be appreciated and loved. Make sense?

As I was sorting this through in my head last night, I couldn’t help but compare my “anti-birthday” and “pro-Mother’s Day” stance to God’s love and His abundant grace and freely given salvation.

God loves us. But not because of anything we’ve done. His grace extended towards us is not a payment for deeds completed. Salvation is given not because of the hard work I’ve put in at the church or the long hours at the food packing facility. I do not work for His love, His grace, His mercy. I am given His love. I am given His grace. I am given His mercy.

He loves us because we are His (Isaiah 43:3-4).
In fact, He loved us when we hated Him (Romans 5:6, 8)
He saved me as a gift. Because of His grace. He gave that which I do not deserve (Ephesians 2:8-9)
Because of His love – not because of anything I have done – I am a child of God(1 John 3:1)

I think that’s pretty awesome.

“But when the kindness of God our Savior and His love for mankind appeared, He saved usnot on the basis of deeds which we have done in righteousness, but according to His mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewing of the Holy Spirit, whom He poured out upon us richly through Jesus Christ our Savior, so that being justified by His grace we would be made heirs according to the hope of eternal life.” – Titus 3:4-7 (NASB, emphasis mine)

Every Inconvenient Opportunity

by Sarah Langness

Editor’s note:  This post was written on April 8.

I really don’t like driving on snowy, icy, wind-blown roads. Therefore, I am still here in Sioux Falls rather than in Fargo on my way home to Beulah. I probably could have made it to Fargo today, but I decided that if things got ugly in North Dakota, I’d rather be stuck in Sioux Falls at my parent’s house than in Fargo. So here I am. To be honest, I really want to be home. I would love to cook at my stove and wash my dishes. To put my baby boy to bed in his own, real bed instead of a Pack ‘N Play. To see my husband and give him a hug. But home is 500-some miles away. And there’s a snowstorm looking like it’s going to keep me here until potentially Thursday.

So, I decided to make the most of this opportunity. To go visit my grandparents now instead of planning on doing it this summer because I don’t know how much time we’ve got left. To maybe look up some friends in the area simply because I’ve got time and relationships are important. To let my little man have these extra bonding days with his grandparents. Even though I am looking forward to home, I’ve got to do something and be faithful with this time I have here in Sioux Falls. I need to do the same spiritually as well.

Sometimes, instead of making the most of the time I have here and now, I am simply looking ahead, to our eternal home. Like when I consider world events. I hope and pray that Jesus will come back soon. I would love for my little man to be protected from so much of the evil happening in the world; to witness the coming of Christ. And I think that as believers, we are to look forward to His coming and prepare for it. But sometimes, it’s easy for us to forget to work while we’re here. To be fruitful for His kingdom. To make His name known to people and in places where His name hasn’t been heard. To make disciples.

“But if I am to live on in the flesh, this will mean fruitful labor for me . . . But I am hard-pressed from both directions, having the desire to depart and be with Christ, for that is very much better; yet to remain on in the flesh is much more necessary for your sake.”  Philippians 1:22-23   (NASB)

While we wait for His coming, while we live on in the flesh – we’ve got work to do. It won’t be finished until He calls us home. May we be a body who is busy about His work, doing what He has called us to do, making the most of every opportunity — even those that seem to inconvenience us.

“So then, while we have opportunity, let us do good to all people, and especially to those who are of the household of faith.”  Galatians 6:10   (NASB)