My Personal Professional Perspective
Living in our time, unique in its globalization and digital connectivity is filled with tension and anxiety. It is characterized by identity confusion and purposefulness. However, for the biblical counselor, this means the proliferation of opportunities. Little wonder Paul exhorts his readers and us to not “grow weary in well doing.” There is much to do, but there is also much reward. This is our world, our time, our responsibility.
The rewards, that are yet to come when we meet Jesus, we but taste in time. One of those is the joy that the healing of the gospel brings as the Spirit of God uses us as instruments in His hands to deliver. The marriage that is restored, the addict that is freed, the teenager who repents and comes to Jesus and then grows. If you are a biblical counselor, you have repeated these rewards.
Another reward comes to those of us who are teachers and trainers of another generation of counselors. This past weekend was an opportunity to enjoy the rewards of teaching and training. My wife and I spent Saturday taking an antique railroad ride with another couple The wife has been an academic student earning a doctorate during my Trinity seminary days. Subsequently, I’ve been privileged to be a continuing mentor as she established two different successful counseling ministries over the last thirty years. Watching her orchestrate training and recruiting men to teach the theological classes while she taught the methodologies classes and then observing the many next generations of counselors is a great reward this side of eternity.
Being privileged to teach in three different seminaries and dozens of training programs in a variety of evangelical contexts has given me this great reward multiple times. As I have said on more than one occasion, I’ve had the privilege of studying and or working under seven of God’s generals over my career. They have repeated these rewards observing God’s utilization of me even as I those He has given to me to counsel and train and observe them reproduce.
If there were not the anticipation of those heavenly rewards of which one would be sufficient, “Well done good and faithful servant,” these earthly rewards would make a life invested in being a disciple-maker more than worthwhile.
Come join the revolution! It started with the Great Commission. May each of us be able to quote Paul at the end of our tenure— II Timothy 4:7 I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. 8 Now there is in store for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me on that day—and not only to me but also to all who have longed for his appearing.
The Perspective of Pew Dwellers
What about the pew dwellers? You know, the folks who push through the mundane grind and tithe from their sweat and their tension. What are the rewards of the banker, the factory worker, the landscaper sweltering in the 98-degree Alabama in late July? What about the telemarketer, you know the one with the accent that drives you crazy with the incessant calls to buy AT&T service? Is there a taste of rewards for these folks? Or is there hope of the reward of meaningfulness and purpose wrapped up in earthly experiences? Is all their hope of reward pie in the sky by and by?
To the rescue, Martin Luther, and the theological truth he rebirthed in the Reformation. A major feature of the Reformation which Luther launched was a complete reversal of existing ideas about ordinary work. Luther insisted that, to be holy, is to live a life which is fully pleasing to God yielding reward in this life. It is not necessary to become a monk or a nun [in today’s language, a full time Christian worker], or to be continually doing ‘religious’ activities. Rather, in one’s ordinary job and in normal family life one can live a life which is fully pleasing to God [for Luther, this meant meaningfulness and purpose]. He wrote contemptuously of the lifestyle recommended by the Roman church.
Ian Hart observed, “The most obvious and most important element in Luther’s overall teaching about work is the high valuation he placed upon it: the life God wants most people to lead is the life of daily work, and therefore such a life is holy and sacred and fully pleasing to God-in no way of less value in God’s eyes than a life spent in prayer or church work. His other important thrusts were that each person should regard their job as a calling and stay in it; that menial work is of equal value to work more highly regarded by men; that one’s work must serve one’s fellow men (‘give myself as a Christ to my neighbour’ in Luther’s moving phrase);” and his concern for honesty and fair dealing in one’s work.
In honesty, fair dealing, and hard work, comes to God-ordained time and space rewards of satisfaction with a well-invested life and the product of it evidenced in the lives of others. My son is a landscape architect. When I listen to him, I hear a may who has collected and enjoyed great rewards both in the hardscape he produces and the people to whom he has brought enjoyment and satisfaction. I also have heard and watched a man sending on ahead much material, as it were, for eternal enjoyment, rewards.
Whether ministry personnel or the pew dweller clan, God intends for us to experience rewards in the here and now and in living in a manner that produces them, ensure the very best possible reward in the by and by. That is to hear the Lord Jesus declare, “Well done good and faithful servant.” The application and is easy to tell you, the implementation is pictured again and again in Scripture. Energetic, tenacious obedience. I leave you with these verses observing the bold print.
Hebrews 12:1-2 Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, 2 fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.
Romans 12:1-2 Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship. 2 Do not conform to the pattern of this world but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing, and perfect will.