One of the ways that we demonstrate the fruit of the Holy Spirit’s goodness is by having excellence in the work we do and how we participate in the things God gives us. Romans 15:14 says I am convinced, my brothers and sisters, that you yourselves are full of goodness, filled with knowledge and competent to instruct one another. He talks about how he knows that the believers are filled with goodness. I would agree with him saying that most Christians are trying to do a good job. I know I am trying to do a good job and I would be willing to bet that you are trying to do a good job too. The truth is believers and honestly, unbelievers, too, are doing the best they know how. I think there are some key things that we forget, and I want to address 3 of them. I hope that these inspire you to cultivate goodness in your life more effectively.
Philippians 3:14 says: I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus. This verse reminds us of the reward that is available when we persevere. I think that some of the perseverance comes through this vision of doing a good job. Matthew 25 talks about the parable of the servants who are left with talents when the master goes away and they are supposed to invest those talents. 2 servants come back and in Matthew 25 in verse 21 and again in verse 23 he says: “His master replied, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant! You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things. Come and share your master’s happiness!’ This is the result that I think all of us are longing for as believers. We want to do a good job of who God calls us to be and how He wants us to act and at the end, we want to hear Him say “well done my good and faithful servant”. But I wonder sometimes am I doing a good job? How can I be doing it differently? There are so many options out there how do I determine what is best? I have 3-mile markers to look at today that you can use and teach to your kids to help them evaluate their actions.
The first-mile marker of doing a good job is integrity.
Are you living with integrity? I did a google search on this word and it brought up several definitions. One of those definitions is: integrity is the act of behaving honorably, even when no one is watching. I would add that it is behaving in such a way that aligns with the Holy Spirit and your conscience. One practical tool that I discuss in my coaching programs is the gift of the word should. Should is a word that helps us evaluate areas where our integrity might be off. It’s kind of a warning sign or caution light and should cause us to slow down. I wonder do you check on the should in your life?
Let me give you an example: You have spent a long day working really hard and it’s late at night and the thought comes to you, I should go to bed, and then at that moment you can choose to take action on the thought you had or you can decide to ignore it and do something different. When should the word comes up is doesn’t necessarily mean that what we are doing is wrong or that we need to change our actions but it can mean there is an opportunity that we have to pause and ask “Is this God clearly leading me and an action I need to take?” or is it just my own flesh or the devil using ideals to attack me for how I have not measured up to my own expectations or the expectations of others? Usually, if we stop and ask a question like that, we can quickly tell the difference. When the Lord prompts us it’s usually specific. We might not understand the reasoning, but it is clear just like the feeling of needing to go to bed. Integrity means when we hear those shoulds and they are the Holy Spirit in our life, we take action. Integrity is a way that we show up. James 4:17 says: If anyone, then, knows the good they ought to do and doesn’t do it, it is sin for them. So the shoulds can convict or they can be a form of condemnation, but with these quick questions we can tell the difference:
Is this something that God is leading me in?
Is it condemnation?
We want to align our thoughts, words, and actions so that they are consistent. This builds a framework of confidence around our choices. When we get familiar with recognizing and making that choice we will see the differences more quickly and become more successful in doing a good job at whatever we are called to do.
The second-mile marker of doing a good job is obedience.
Doing a good job includes obedience to what God calls us to do. My favorite bible story for this particular point is found in 1 Samuel 15. This is a situation where Saul, who is king over Israel, has been given a command by the Lord through Samuel. At the time Samuel was speaking for the Lord to the king and Samuel gave Saul some very specific instructions. 1 Samuel 15:3
“Now go, attack the Amalekites and totally destroy all that belongs to them. Do not spare them; put to death men and women, children and infants, cattle and sheep, camels and donkeys.”
That was really clear instruction. It sounds horrific in today’s day and age that he would slaughter everything, but that’s not what we are here to discuss. We are here to discuss that the instruction was very clear. In verses 7-9 we see what Saul does.
“Then Saul attacked the Amalekites all the way from Havilah to Shur, near the eastern border of Egypt. 8 He took Agag king of the Amalekites alive, and all his people he totally destroyed with the sword. 9 But Saul and the army spared Agag and the best of the sheep and cattle, the fat calves[b] and lambs—everything that was good. These they were unwilling to destroy completely, but everything that was despised and weak they totally destroyed.“
He didn’t follow the directions. He disobeyed because he saw things that he could benefit from. Then in verse 13, it says,
“When Samuel reached him, Saul said, “The Lord bless you! I have carried out the Lord’s instructions.”
He was actually boasting that he won the battle and did what he was told. Moving on to verses 14-21,
“But Samuel said, “What then is this bleating of sheep in my ears? What is this lowing of cattle that I hear?” 15 Saul answered, “The soldiers brought them from the Amalekites; they spared the best of the sheep and cattle to sacrifice to the Lord your God, but we totally destroyed the rest.” 16 “Enough!” Samuel said to Saul. “Let me tell you what the Lord said to me last night.” “Tell me,” Saul replied. 17 Samuel said, “Although you were once small in your own eyes, did you not become the head of the tribes of Israel? The Lord anointed you king over Israel. 18 And he sent you on a mission, saying, ‘Go and completely destroy those wicked people, the Amalekites; wage war against them until you have wiped them out.’ 19 Why did you not obey the Lord? Why did you pounce on the plunder and do evil in the eyes of the Lord?” 20 “But I did obey the Lord,” Saul said. “I went on the mission the Lord assigned me. I destroyed the Amalekites and brought back Agag their king. 21 The soldiers took sheep and cattle from the plunder, the best of what was devoted to God, in order to sacrifice them to the Lord your God at Gilgal.” But Samuel replied:
“Does the Lord delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices
as much as in obeying the Lord?
To obey is better than sacrifice,
and to heed is better than the fat of rams.
Saul got distracted with what a great thing it would be to sacrifice to God and God might have appreciated it if He hadn’t already told Saul to do something else. There are plenty of other times that God did appreciate sacrifice, but in this case, He specifically asked Saul to do a job and he did not do it. Notice that in Saul’s efforts to do a good job he wasn’t taken down by evil ideas, he let good ideas get in the way of the best idea.
Chances are your ability to do a good job is not going to be off-roaded by obvious evil. You aren’t going to see something horrible and decide you’ll give it a try. Instead, it is more likely we will be taken down by “second best,” by cool ideas and interesting distractions and we will jump at them because they don’t look wrong. This is the moment to realign and ask yourself,
What God has called you to do?
As an example of obedience, I have lost count of the number of times that I have seen God do a miracle through our finances and it always starts with tithing. You can tell me all day long that we are not under the law, but grace instead, and I will show you time and time again where consistent tithing has changed our finances. I find His blessing in obedience. What do you have in your life right now that is an interesting distraction?
Doing a good job includes failure.
I think this one more than any of them is important for our kids to learn from a young age. They are all good, but this one is frequently overlooked. We don’t expect someone to learn how to ride a bike without falling over or someone to cook without burning something. We don’t expect baseball players to hit all of the balls thrown at them. In our personal lives and in the lives of our children we act like doing a good job doesn’t include mistakes, practice, or unmet expectations. A difficult conversation that you have with your child that ends with them screaming at the top of their lungs can mean that you are doing a good job discussing an important issue with them. Just because they got mad doesn’t mean you are doing a bad job. So often we equate doing a good job with no conflict or arguments.
When was the last time that you succeeded in something where you made no mistakes? If you go back and listen to my first podcasts, it is obvious that they aren’t as good as the ones I am doing now because I am more comfortable now.
I know that in the kitchen I have messed up a recipe or cooked something incorrectly and I don’t regret any of those lessons because they helped me learn how to do it well, today. It means giving it everything we’ve got and then letting God be responsible for the results. We play “all in” and surrender. My business coach encourages people to be all in, but not attached to the specific outcome. We do the best we can and leave the rest to God.
To recap, doing a good job and living as an example of the goodness of God includes being in integrity, being obedient, and allowing failure. I am excited to share this idea with you of doing a good job and I encourage you that what might feel like a crisis now is going to be a testimony to God’s faithfulness right around the corner. If you are doing the best you can and giving the rest to Him you are doing a good job! We can be full of goodness just like Paul expressed to the Christians in Rome. I know today you are full of goodness. Even in the midst of difficult circumstances, you are doing a good job. Line up the integrity, obedience, and remember that includes failure.
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