For a brief time, some years ago, I worked third shift restocking shelves at the local Walmart. No, no, don’t be jealous, it sounds far more glamorous than it really is. There were no champagne wishes and caviar dreams, but there was ample body odor and plenty of missing teeth on the third shift.
It was quiet work for the most part, save for the few times customers came in at three or four in the morning looking for Nicorette, duct tape, baked beans, or stain remover, you know, the things you can’t wait for until morning.
I was about halfway through my first eight-hour stint, having assured the junior manager that difficult as it may seem I had grasped the intricate art of shelf restocking when I got approached by a co-worker. He introduced himself as Tim, explained that he’d been working the job for six years, then in a hushed, conspiratorial tone told me to take it easy on the speed with which I did my job.
“I’ve been watching you, and you’re making the same mistake everyone else does when they first get here; you’re too quick. We get paid by the hour, not by the shelf, so just take it easy.”
I tried to be polite, and in so many words told Tim that it was just my pace, and if I’m here, I might as well do my best. He didn’t seem very happy with my answer, but he didn’t say anything more. He turned and walked off, and I went back to work.
I found myself thinking about Tim’s mindset that night, wondering if he’d ever considered maybe it was because of his attitude that he was still doing the same job six years in. Could he have made shift manager, or junior manager, or even store manager if he’d applied himself and done his best those past six years?
In the parable of the talents, all three men were servants. They each received according to their ability from their master, but only the two who proved themselves good and faithful received a reward upon His return. There are qualifiers to servanthood. We are either good and faithful or wicked and lazy. The value of the talents the servants received was the same, some receiving more, some less, but it’s what they chose to do with the talents they received that determined whether they were good or wicked, faithful or lazy.
For every one e-mail I get asking how to do more for God, grow in God, or mature spiritually, I get at least ten asking if some pet vice or other is a sin, or how far the envelope can be pushed while still making it to heaven.
If the constant in your life is how to retain more of the flesh rather than to mortify it, if rather than defend holiness and righteousness, you find yourself on the side of defending aberrant practices, and sinful conduct, your desire is not to please your Master, but to please yourself.
You will never grow in God or be entrusted with more if you are not faithful with what you have already been given. If we desire to be good and faithful servants, we must strive to excel rather than do the bare minimum. We must strive to enter His gates with thanksgiving, and the expectation of being found good and faithful rather than constantly wondering if we’ll make it in by the skin of our teeth.
With love in Christ,
Michael Boldea Jr.