One of the important things to find out whenever we start a new position is to get clarity on what the job description is. If we don’t have that, we might think we are doing a good job and still miss the mark when it comes time for an evaluation.
I have worked in six different paid positions throughout my life. Each was unique and varied in the needed skill sets. Most of them did not come with a written job description − one was a teaching position − and sometimes not even an oral one was given. When I did receive a job description, I sometimes discovered there were expectations not included in what I was handed in writing.
It was more than a bit frustrating not to have clarification on these things when it came time for an evaluation. I recall one evaluation by a principal when I was teaching where he marked that I needed to improve by pursuing additional education. I think it is appropriate to want to see that happen, but I was more than a bit frustrated since I had just completed a Master’s degree and that was not acknowledged. When I asked him about this, he only said, “more education is always good and I couldn’t give you good marks on everything.” What was he saying and not saying?
I also didn’t initially know the importance of asking for a job description in writing and having an opportunity to clarify any questions I might have (including what was unspoken and written between the lines).
Even in volunteer positions or non-paid ministry positions, not having a clear understanding of expectations and desires in a “job description” can set us on the path to misunderstandings, confusion, and frustration. Many of you know the results can vary from burnout to resentment to bitterness and broken relational trust and respect.
Maybe what we are missing is the view by some that we should simply “know” what is expected if we are offered a particular job or position. That can be even truer if it carries a title that someone believes should be self-explanatory.
Things can get stickier still if one of our desires is the title and what that brings with it for us. Our perception of the meaning or significance of the title can suggest to us that we are “more than” or “less than” those with whom we work. As a consequence we determine what responsibilities are “above” or “beneath” us.
Have you considered how differently Jesus, Son of God, King of kings, demonstrated in his life on the earth that He did not consider it beneath Him to wash the feet of others, dine with those who were sinners, or heal those who were not among the chosen people of the day?
Some among us sadly do not think they are worthy or capable enough to hold a job or position of almost any kind. They sometimes languish by choice or history or circumstance in the “no man’s land” of doing nothing.
Today as I was studying in a commentary for a workshop I will be participating in later this fall, I read a significant statement that grabbed my attention. It pointed to the main thing and too many times we stumble over making the main thing, the main thing.
Douglas K. Stuart sums it up perfectly I think when he writes this:
“To be in the image of God is to have a job assignment. God’s “image” is supposed to represent him on earth and accomplish his purposes here.”
His statement serves notice to one and all. If we are human, made in God’s image, then we ALL have a job assignment to represent him on the earth and accomplish his purposes.
But before we think that means we need to go to seminary or a distant mission field, consider what the life of Jesus looked like on the earth. He ministered in powerful ways, but common ways as well. He healed and spoke sermons that turned the cold hearts of many to Him, but he also broke and served bread, washed feet, fished, and hung out with friends as his Father’s representative.
I once heard a pastor say that Jesus was fully tuned in to looking up to heaven and seeing what his Father was doing and then that is what He did.
Yes, humanity fell in Genesis 3 and our ability to function perfectly in the image of God was twisted, but that did not thwart God’s plan for mankind. From that point in the story onward, God slowly and patiently teaches us our way back to Him and it doesn’t wait till the New Testament to be demonstrated. We see it again and again in the lives of Abraham, Jacob, David, and others.
What is our job description?
We may have more than one, but the main one is to represent God’s image on earth and accomplish his purposes here. It isn’t about title or position, but is everything to do with character and whether or not we look like Him.
To be clear on our job description as an “image bearer,” we start by reading his story from Genesis to Revelation and then (like Jesus) looking up to see what God is doing.
Nothing is common that He has ever done.