The time clock conundrum

2 Kings 22:7  “But no accounting is to be required from them for the money put into their hands since they work with integrity.”

Some time ago, as I was preparing to move into full-time ministry, I had an ongoing battle with a time clock.  You see, I had been in management for a couple of years and no longer logged my time with the clock.  I was on salary, which meant that I worked more than 8 hours a day.  No need to clock in or out; just come early and stay late.  Then I decided I was done with that whole thing and returned to being an hourly employee.  It was a good season of my life as God was preparing me to be a pastor.  But I didn’t get along with the time clock very well.  Because after two years of showing up to work and heading straight to the office, I now had to stop by the break room and punch in.  And quite honestly, I forgot a lot.  So I would get these time edit slips constantly telling me I forgot to clock in.  And other times I would forget to clock out.  I worked my hours and I worked  hard, but logging them was something I had to relearn.

I like this passage in 2 Kings 22, because it says they didn’t have to use the time clock.  These guys were working hard at the temple and the king knew it.  So he told the payroll clerk to pay them and not worry about asking for their time cards.  He trusted them to do the job and do it well.  They didn’t try to show up to work late or leave early.  They didn’t take extra breaks or sit around visiting when they should have been working.  They weren’t taking excessive personal phone calls or texting all their friends.  (I guess that last one was technically impossible)

What kind of an employee are you? Are you someone who can be trusted to do the job with integrity?  As Christians we are called to set a standard.  It’s a standard like the one mentioned here in today’s scripture.  There should never be a gray area about the work that we do.  We should be honest with our time and our money.  Regardless of what everyone else around us is doing, we should be like those temple workers.  And it’s not because we might get in trouble if we don’t; it’s to honor the Lord.  Colossians 3:23 says “Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for men.”   Approach your life, your responsibilities, and your job with this attitude today.  For this is the kind of integrity that should be present in our lives.

A Working Man

Ruth 3:1-2 1 One day Naomi her mother-in-law said to her [Ruth], “My daughter, should I not try to find a home for you, where you will be well provided for? 2 Is not Boaz, with whose servant girls you have been, a kinsman of ours? Tonight he will be winnowing barley on the threshing floor. 3 Wash and perfume yourself, and put on your best clothes. Then go down to the threshing floor, but don’t let him know you are there until he has finished eating and drinking. 4 When he lies down, note the place where he is lying. Then go and uncover his feet and lie down. He will tell you what to do.”

In today’s passage, we have quite the unique marriage proposal.  When I proposed to my wife, I knelt down on one knee and asked her to marry me.  Ruth uncovered Boaz’ feet.  Does this seem strange to anyone but me?  Apparently it wasn’t strange in those times.  In fact, uncovering a man’s feet while he was sleeping was a customary way to ask him to marry you.  Okay, then. So Ruth proposes to Boaz.  As fascinating as this is, I was struck today not by what she asked him, but by what he was doing and where he was at.

First let me tell you a little story from my past.  I used to work in retail management.  I had lots of people that worked for me.  In fact, I was second in charge at the stores I worked at.  So when a dirty job needed to be done, I had plenty of people to ask.   One evening, it was reported to me that someone had thrown up in the men’s restroom. (Note to self: don’t blog while eating breakfast).  There was a young lady, a high school student, on duty that night and I asked her to clean up the mess in the men’s restroom.  That instruction alone freaked her out so she timidly approached the scene.  When she arrived, it was her worst nightmare – vomit.  She had a very sensitive gag reflex and just about added to the mess on the floor.  She came to me with all due respect and said, “I’m sorry, I can’t do it.”  She said she understood if I had to ask her to quit her job for not following instructions, but she just couldn’t do it.  Now what?  Well, I decided to just clean it up myself.

That story came to mind today as I was reading this passage.  I didn’t do anything special or extraordinary.  I just did what a leader should do, which is be willing to participate in the hard work.  And this is what struck me about Boaz today.  He had lots of people working for him.  He had workers and he had servants.  Yet he was out winnowing the barley with his own hands.  He was there not just to give instructions, but he was there to work.  He was there to serve.

It’s the same thing that Jesus did.  He came not just to give instructions; he came to work.  He came to get a job done.  He came to serve.  And He did all that He came to do.  He ministered to the most unlovable – he healed the sick and served the poor.  He washed His disciples stinky feet.  He labored on the cross and defeated the powers of darkness, all  with His own two hands.  Yes, Jesus was a working man.  He still is a working man.  And I am ever thankful that He is still working on me.