I work as a clerk in an elementary school library. When I give this as my occupation, the ready assumption is that I check books in and out, which I certainly do! That is, however, only one part of my job description. I serve as a library clerk, a bookkeeper, a secretary, a technician, a public representative, and a teacher, sometimes all at once and sometimes by turn. I love my job–and it has also made me think a lot about my vocation as a Christian.
Since my librarian is only at my school a third of the time (she has two other schools to oversee), she has to be confident that I will carry out library, instructional, and administrative functions in her absence. She also has to be able to know that I will do these things as she would. There are several elements that go into this:
I have to be familiar with the library’s policies. I have to know the rules that apply in the library–both to my conduct and to the children’s–and I also have to know why those rules are in place. In addition, I must have an idea of how those policies and procedures fit into the overarching structure of school policy and procedure.
Now, if I only know the rules and not the principles behind them, I am hamstrung: I can’t tell how to handle situations where there is no rule. Likewise, God has not dictated to us a network of rules for every conceivable circumstance–such a list would be too huge to keep in one library! Instead, He gives us His principles, He shows us examples of those who have gone before, He gives us His Spirit…and then we have to figure out how to apply what we know in our own circumstances.
I have to know my librarian. There are some things that aren’t rules or written procedures, but are rather my librarian’s preferences. In addition, since I have to deliver instruction when she is not there, I need to know what she wants taught and how she wants it taught. How does she engage the students? What things does she emphasize?
Any good secretary, as well, will study her boss’s habits and tendencies. Part of my job is to know how to do my job and how to help my librarian do her job better, more effectively. Now, God does not need my help to do His job. But it is still vital that I know how He works and how His mind works, as well as I possibly can. How do I do that? How do I put into practice the admonishment to “Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus..” (Philippians 2:5 Philippians 2:5Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus:
American King James Version×)? The only way I can know that is by studying His written word–the Bible–and learning from the examples of those around me who are also following Him.
I have to keep my conduct to the highest standard, whether my librarian is present or not. I am alone in the library most of the time, with no one checking my work on a regular basis. However, I know that I need to be at my best constantly. I cannot have one rule for when my librarian is there to watch, and one rule for when she is absent. Likewise, Paul admonished the Philippians, “Only let your conduct be worthy of the gospel of Christ, so that whether I come and see you or am absent, I may hear of your affairs, that you stand fast in one spirit, with one mind striving together for the faith of the gospel…” (Philippians 1:27 Philippians 1:27Only let your conversation be as it becomes the gospel of Christ: that whether I come and see you, or else be absent, I may hear of your affairs, that you stand fast in one spirit, with one mind striving together for the faith of the gospel;
American King James Version×) My conduct as a Christian should not change, no matter where I am or who is watching–for surely Christ is always present!
There are a lot of other lessons that one can learn from one’s job. What have you learned from yours? How does it apply to your Christian walk?
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