My husband and I were having brunch with our high school son after early-church one Sunday morning. Our son ordered a coffee in a to-go cup, the paper kind with a plastic lid. When the coffee arrived he noticed someone had artfully decorate the outside of the cup with the specifics of his coffee order. It wasn't much, but our son was impressed, stating this establishment was a quality place if they would go to such efforts to identify his order. When the owner of the restaurant came by, our son repeated his comment. The owner was impressed. He did not know that one of his employees was giving the extra touch to the coffee cups. The owner was thrilled a team member was taking the initiative and glad we appreciated it. The lesson for our son was employers, teachers, parents, and others in authority appreciate when a student or staff member use their talents and gifts to do more than is expected.
In the first century many of the slaves referred to in the New Testament were indentured servants, much like employees today. They had debts and worked for land owners or business men to pay off debts. Like today, some employers were harsh and difficult to work for, but others were fair and treated their servants like members of the family. Paul in his book to the Ephesians discussed various relationships in chapter 6. First he discussed the relationship between children and parents, then servants and masters. For purposes of this discussion, substitute the word employee for slave and employer for master to make it a bit easier to apply the principals.
"Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right. "Honor your father and mother"—this is the first commandment with a promise: "so that it may be well with you and you may live long on the earth." And, fathers, do not provoke your children to anger, but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord.
"Slaves, obey your earthly masters with fear and trembling, in singleness of heart, as you obey Christ; not only while being watched, and in order to please them, but as slaves of Christ, doing the will of God from the heart. Render service with enthusiasm, as to the Lord and not to men and women, knowing that whatever good we do, we will receive the same again from the Lord, whether we are slaves or free." Ephesians 7:1-8 NRS
Elohim is creator, author, architect and builder of our faith. He spoke the world into existence and uniquely created each one of us. We are art, living, breathing, dancing, writing, playing. Each of us has been created to contribute and share God's beauty with the world. We may never paint like Pacasso, but then Pacasso was not called to paint like you, and if God has called you to paint, PAINT! In the September 16th post, we discussed avoiding the pressure for our children to be super star athletes and nuclear scientist all before they exist grammar school. Today, I am encouraging you to teach them to stand out, be different, unique...to be themselves as only they can. If they don't the world will be missing something wonderful. Pour an abundance of encouragement into your child, so they will know they have your permission to be different. Also teach them to do more than is asked of them by applying their unique talents at every opportunity, homework, chores, jobs, or sports. In doing so they will glorify the Creator by showing what the LORD has made.
The employee that added a bit of art to my son's cup was expressing their unique gift to a plain ordinary cup. It wasn't a big deal, and probably just took a minute or two. They were trying to make their job assignment and the world a bit less plain, and in doing so brought praise to their employer and honored the Lord. A generation of children are growing up without the desire or knowledge of how to apply themselves and be diligent in their efforts. Mediocrity and "getting by" is all too common. As parents, I encourage you to raise children who will serve others with enthusiasm, and to apply a bit more to any job or assignment and thus bring honor to themselves, their family and the Father in Heaven. One of my favorite quotes is "Be the change you wish to see in the world." As parents we must demonstrate commitment, eagerness, zest with a servant's heart in our daily walk, and in so doing, our children will see and hopefully follow.
Another point from our barista, let others praise you. My husband and I emphasized to our son the need to compliment the restaurant owner. Why? our son protested. Because the person who placed the art on the cup did so without bringing attention to themselves. By complimenting the owner, he was encouraged for hiring a good employee and the barista would be praised by the owner for making the restaraunt look good. The barista may not have thought their efforts were much, but here I am going on and on about it.
“You are the salt of the earth. But if the salt loses its saltiness, how can it be made salty again? It is no longer good for anything, except to be thrown out and trampled underfoot.“You are the light of the world. A town built on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven." Matthew 5:14-16 NIV
The little effort on that coffee cup has great lessons from our Lord:
Serve others through your art, whatever that is.
Be courageously different.
Be an employee that makes your boss look good and your Heavenly Father proud.
Be enthusiastic in everything you do.
Brighten someone else's day, every day.
Father, you have called us to be salt and light. You have created us as unique master pieces. May you richly bless us with encouragement to use our art in service to others, to brighten your world as a lamp on a hill. As parents please help us to be encouragers of our children and their uniqueness, so your art will be evident to all and your world made a bit more beautiful through the expression of Your handiwork. We adore you, LORD, we desire for You to receive all honor and praise from the expression of our gifts and talents in our daily lives. Amen.
Thank you Raymond Lunsford at the Dienger for blessing our community. May the Lord continue to smile upon your efforts.