There are fifteen of us in this room, all men, and all from my church. Richard, whose day job is in telecoms, is leading the session. He has just asked us this question:
‘What are you good at in the Lord at work?’
Yes, it’s a slightly jargony way of putting it but we all knew what he meant. Still, we’re English (mostly), we’re men, we’re from the South of England, and we’re Christians. Does Richard seriously expect any of us to publicly proclaim that we’re good at something, never mind good at something ‘in the Lord’?
This story is an extract from ‘The one about…’ by Mark Greene. You can purchase the full book here.
And no one does.
So Richard says, ‘Why don’t you write something down on a post-it note?’ There are several stacks of post-it notes in front of us. It seems that he’s anticipated our reticence.
So we all write something down. And then Richard says, ‘Well, now you’ve written it down, you might as well share it.’
Mike is the first. He speaks quietly, tentatively really.
‘As some of you know, I am a policeman. I’m part of the armed protection team. At No. 10.’
He had our attention at ‘armed protection’.
‘It’s a pretty macho group of people and over the years there’s been quite a lot of conflict. I’ve found that I am pretty good at bringing people back together.’
That’s all he says.
And then he looks down at the coffee table in front of him.
Well, on that evening in that room, there’s a pause – not long enough to be awkward, but definitely a pause. And then someone says, ‘You’ve got a ministry of reconciliation.’
And a smile the width of Kansas stretches across Mike’s face. It’s the joy of recognition, not pride. Someone else says, ‘Yes, you’re a peacemaker.’
I wonder if anything strikes you about that story. How might you have responded to Mike? What biblical connections do you see?
‘Blessed are the peacemakers for they will be called sons and daughters of God’ (Matthew 5:9). And we all begin to see that here’s a man teaching people who don’t know Jesus how to forgive one another. Here’s a man teaching people Jesus’ way of forgiveness at No. 10 Downing Street. And that’s certainly worth celebrating.
Yes, Mike had a sense that he had been doing something good but his joy was released when someone helped him see it through the lens of the Bible, helped him see that this was something that God would be pleased about, helped him see that God was working in and through him for the good of others. God was working through him. God was working through him. God!
No wonder he was so joyful.
We grow in confidence and joy when other Christians help us see and celebrate what God is doing in and through us. And that can be as simple as getting used to asking each other questions that get us thinking: What’s God been teaching you? Where have you seen God at work in your life?
That’s what Richard did. You might say that he was making a rather bold assumption. After all, he was assuming that every man in that room was ‘good at something in the Lord at work’. He was assuming that God had been at work in their lives and had been producing good fruit.
What a wonderful assumption. And he turned out to be right. We all had something to share. But in Richard’s case it wasn’t really an assumption at all. Richard could ask the question not because he knew the people in the room but because he knew the God they followed. He was confident in this: God is at work in people’s lives. It’s what he promises, after all. He’s made us new creations in Christ (2 Corinthians 5:17), he’s filled us with his Spirit, and as Paul puts it: ‘for it is God who works in you to will and to act in order to fulfil his good purpose’ (Philippians 2:13).
And one of the great gifts we can give to one another is to help each other see it.
Is there something that you are ‘good at in the Lord’ in your daily life?
Mike’s story is taken from ‘The one about…’, a beautifully illustrated collection of eight stories by Mark Greene about God working through his people in their everyday lives. An inspiring read, a lovely gift for a friend or the whole church.