Anyone who’s spent any time at all in the business and professional world is familiar with a document called the “job description.” It’s for both employer and employee, recording in written form the duties, responsibilities and expectations involved with a particular job. It enables them both to be on the same page – in a literal way – for understanding what the employee’s expected to do and how it’s to be done.
I remember years ago, upon being hired by CBMC, reading with delight that my job description included editing the ministry’s magazine and co-authoring a book with the president at the time. Until then I’d never written a magazine article; writing a book had long been one of my personal goals. So, I couldn’t have asked for a better opportunity or a more wonderful challenge. The subsequent 20 years with CBMC and its sister ministry, CBMC International, exceeded my greatest hopes.
However, job descriptions aren’t fail-safe. When supervisor and worker misconnect on what the job’s about, problems can arise – even serious ones. I remember the head of a different organization once describing the time he got sideways with an employee, simply because he and she weren’t in accord on what was expected.
One day, the supervisor decided he’d had enough. Very dissatisfied with the work the employee was doing, he called her in and prepared to gently convey the bad news that her services would no longer be required.
To soften the blow, he asked, “How do you like your job?” “Oh, I love it!” she replied enthusiastically. “Really?” he reacted, barely concealing his puzzlement. “Well, tell me how you think you’re doing.” With gusto the employee responded not only by stating how well she was doing but also proceeding to describe in detail the tasks she was performing.
For a few moments the supervisor sat in stunned silence. Then he realized this employee was doing a very good job – except not with the work he’d been expecting her to do. The problem wasn’t the job description, but his failure at the onset to ensure they were both in agreement about what was expected.
The meeting didn’t end with him firing her. Instead, he felt a need to commend her – and give her a pay increase – along with a thorough review of the job he was expecting her to perform. This was what they call a failure to communicate.
Did you know that, if you’re a follower of Jesus Christ, you have a job description?
This “job description” has many facets. We find them throughout the Scriptures, although Jesus encapsulated them neatly in Matthew 22:34-39. Responding to a group of religious leaders who cagily asked Him to identify “which is the greatest commandment in the Law?” Jesus’ reply was simple: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’”
These two indeed sum up God’s expectations for us, His “job description” for everyone who follows Him. But the question might arise, “How do I do that?” The “how-to” unfolds as we read the Bible. For instance, as the apostle Paul declared in Acts 17:28, “For in him we live and move and have our being.” From the moment we awaken in the morning to the moment we return to bed at night, our heart’s desire should be to experience His life and presence – and to reflect it to everyone we meet during the course of the day.
On many occasions, Jesus instructed His disciples to “preach the gospel,” but He wasn’t referring to words alone. We see this emphasized in His final “commission,” recounted in Matthew 28:19-20, “Therefore go and make disciples of all nations…teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you.” Jesus wanted His disciples to reproduce spiritually, to make other disciples who also would make disciples, folks who would live and breathe – and yes, communicate – the reality of who He is and what He can do in the lives of those who trust in Him by faith.
We could point to many other passages for help in understanding our “job,” what the Lord expects of us. But one Old Testament verse in particular conveys God’s central requirement for His chosen people.
In Micah 6:8 we’re told, “He has showed you, O man, what is good. And what does the Lord require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.”
That’s it. If someone were to ask, “What does God require of you?” we could rightly answer, “To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with my God.” Direct and profound, and yet an assignment that takes a lifetime to fulfill.
Micah the prophet was responding to a challenge when the people of Israel were pointing proudly to their elaborate and extensive religious practices and traditions, things like burnt offerings and animal sacrifices. Surely those were sufficient to make them acceptable in God’s sight, they reasoned. But Micah reacted with, “Not so fast, folks!”
As one commentator, Dr. John MacArthur, has explained, “Spiritual blindness had led them to offer everything except the one thing [God] wanted – a spiritual commitment of the heart from which right behavior would ensue.” We find the same sentiment in Proverbs 21:3, which states, “To do righteousness and justice is more acceptable to the Lord than sacrifice.”
Justice. Mercy. Humility. Volumes and volumes have been written about each of those words. They’re simple, yet life-changing for those willing to understand and pursue them seriously. If God were to ask you, how would you write your “job description”?
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Robert J. Tamasy is a veteran journalist, former newspaper editor and magazine editor. Bob has written, co-authored and edited more than 15 books. These include the newly published, ”Marketplace Ambassadors”; “Business At Its Best: Timeless Wisdom from Proverbs for Today’s Workplace”; “Tufting Legacies,” “The Heart of Mentoring,” and “Pursuing Life With a Shepherd’s Heart.” A weekly business meditation he edits, “Monday Manna,” is translated into more than 20 languages and sent via email around the world by CBMC International. The address for his blog is www.bobtamasy.blogspot.com. His email address is firstname.lastname@example.org.