But he gives us more grace. That is why Scripture says: “God opposes the proud but shows favor to the humble.”

James 4:6

 

Old window with peeling paint.My husband is painting the windows and trim on our home. We have an old house, and the windows have needed attention for quite a while. This year, the project finally made it to the top of our to-do list.

Every morning, my husband gets up early and paints at least one window before he heads in to the office. We have twenty-nine windows on our home. It’s quite a job!

Many of the windows need to be re-glazed. They all need to be scraped. Then primed. Then, they need at least two coats of paint. After that, the windows get cleaned. Many mornings, when I leave for work, my husband is high on a ladder, gingerly removing one of the hundred-year-old storm windows from its hinges and then carefully lowering it to the ground so he can work on it in the garage. When I return in the evening, the result of his hard work is evident: yet another freshly painted window, gleaming at me in welcome.

I am proud of him. It goes without saying. Neighbors walking by pause to compliment him on a job well done and to praise our choice of colors. Cars slow down as they pass. He’s doing a really great job.

But, as hardworking as my husband is, he is also quite humble. Recently, I asked him, “Aren’t you proud of that paint job you’re doing? It looks so good!”

He thought for a minute and then said, “I can’t be proud of it right now. If I get proud, I won’t get done.” I knew exactly what he meant. When I’m working on something, I spend just about as much time admiring my work as I do actually working on it. If I took my husband’s approach, I’d probably cut my project time in half!

Plus, pride cometh before the fall, and we don’t need that happening while my husband is up on that ladder.

Pride slows me down. It turns all my attention on me and what I’ve accomplished and, if I’m not careful, it makes me believe I’m actually better than you. The truth, of course, is that you and I are equal, and especially so in the eyes of God. Instead, recognizing that hard work is accomplished only because we live, move, and have our being in God puts our work in its proper perspective: as a gift from God which we can use in our callings as stewards of God’s good creation and neighbors who love each other well.

QUESTIONS TO CONSIDER:

Are you working on a project right now? Tell us about it. What makes you happy about the project? What challenges does the project present?

PRAYER:

Thank you for creative ideas, hard working hands, and safety in our endeavors. Help us to remember and be grateful for the grace you give us to climb ladders, dig ditches, write code, bake cakes, and more. Amen.

 

Explore more at the Theology of Work Project online commentaryInvesting in Others (James 4:1–12)

5 Comments

  • I can only imagine how beautiful your home is, Deidra. I can picture it in my mind’s eye. How fortunate you are to have that home and that husband! This story reminds me of God’s own construction project: the earth and all that is in it. At the end of every day, while the project was yet complete, He looked over all He had done and said, “It is good.” Sometimes pausing to take satisfaction in the process is motivation for the next step. The Western mindset values efficiency, charging ahead, getting it done. I think Kingdom allows us to pause and appreciate the process.

    • Great point, Jodi! I guess I sometimes smudge the line between satisfaction and pride. I do like to imagine God, stepping back, taking in creation, and finding deep satisfaction there.

      • It always comforts me when I feel overwhelmed with a task. I say, “Self, even God was pleased with Himself before he was finished.” Breathe. Enjoy the moment.” 🙂

  • I live in Gulu, Uganda, and I’m still working on getting my house set up here. I moved in last October, but there was so much to be done and I was in the midst of my doctoral dissertation, so only the absolutely necessities were finished: an inverter (electrical back up, as the electricity here is often out), water storage tanks, one mounted 18 feet high, so that there can be adequate water pressure, and a solar hot water heater. I’m still arranging rooms.

    The projects I’m currently working on are: a toolshed, a small guardroom by the gate, a brick doghouse, a vegetable garden, planting flowers around the yard to bring a bit more color and beauty. I’m also trying to get some papyrus mats to cover the decorative grill work on the low wall that allows passersby to look in and see all that is taking place. And I still have my work responsibilities. Whew! Writing it all out has been helpful! I see how much I’m trying to do, and it’s giving me grace to be content with the very slow pace at which everything happens here in rural Africa.

    Thanks for writing about work in this perspective, Deidra. I too often limit work to only my professional duties. It’s so much more than that.

    • Wow! You’ve got a lot going on, Catharine! It sounds exciting, and I hope you’re finding joy in the work. Thanks so much for reading, and for sharing this glimpse into your world. Peace.

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