Tuesday, June 6, 2023

Excuses, Fig Trees, and Job Descriptions

Suggested Reading: Amos 7:10-17

Several years ago, I had the displeasure of working with a woman who commonly drove me crazy. Mostly, she did one thing that drove me crazy but she did it all the time. Someone would call and ask her to do something that was very much related to her job and she would respond, "I'm sorry, but that's not my job." Technically, most of these requests were her job because she was paid to service a very specific clientele and provide assistance which enabled them to perform their jobs more efficiently. But if her job description did not specifically mention the particular task she was being asked to perform she would respond, "I'm sorry, but that's not my job." As far as she was concerned, she was there to earn a paycheck not to provide a service. Anything that she could avoid doing while still getting paid she avoided.

At the opposite end of the spectrum was Amos, a prophet God sent to speak to the northern kingdom of Israel. Most prophets in Amos's day were professional prophets who made their living by delivering messages from God. When Amos delivered a message that King Amaziah didn't like, Amaziah threatened him, warning him to leave and strongly implying that he wouldn't be able to make a living as a prophet anymore if he didn't stop speaking. But Amos replied, “I’m not a professional prophet, and I was never trained to be one. I’m just a shepherd, and I take care of sycamore- fig trees. But the Lord called me away from my flock and told me, ‘Go and prophesy to my people in Israel. ’ Now then, listen to this message from the Lord... (Amos 7:14-16, NLT). Amos went above and beyond what was required to earn a living, doing what he did because God called him to it and because it was right, not because he was being rewarded for it.

As believers, we have been called to take up our crosses and follow Christ daily, living as he lived, serving, loving, helping, and sharing the gospel with people. But too often we can fall into the trap of only doing "our job." We allow other people to evangelize because "that's not my gift." We leave that person stranded on the side of the road because we are running late and we're not going to get anything out of it. We don't visit that older person who is shut in their home because that's what the pastor is paid to do. We don't speak up when we see someone abusing another person because "it's not our job" to interfere.

Sometimes doing the right thing or carrying out our calling as believers coincides with being rewarded. But whether we foresee any benefit or not, whether we think someone else is better suited or situated for the task or not,  our attitude should reflect Amos's attitude of "you don't pay me so you can't keep me from doing it" rather than having an attitude that only goes to work when there is a direct benefit. Let us never use the excuse, "that's not my job," when it comes to doing what's right.

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