The Happiest Workers Ever

So expressed Charles Spurgeon in terms of his hopes and aspirations for his people, his fellow-servants of the Lord, at the Metropolitan Tabernacle.

In a sermon on Psalm 127:1-2 entitled Co-Workers with God,  he exhorted his parishioners:

Now, I want all of us to feel that as workers for God—pastor and people, Sunday school teachers and you who teach the Bible classes, you who distribute tracts, you who preach at the street corners, all of you, my beloved fellow helpers—we are doing grand work! You know that it is God’s House that we are building. Under God and with His help, we are building up His Church with stones that He points out to us, helps us to quarry and enables us to bring into their places. And the work goes on so easily, too, if we will but do it according to the Great Architect’s plan. And if we do not get too fussy and busy, and if we do not think that we should knock a corner off here, and alter the shape of a stone there, but will just do it as God would have it done, in His fear, in simple dependence upon Him, confident that it is all right—the great Master-Builder will complete His work! I think that we ought to be the happiest workers who ever lived! It should be a joy to us to do anything for the Lord Jesus. And, oh, when it gets finished, and the top stone is laid, and the Lord descends and fills the House and none of us will be any longer needed, for the priests will not be able to stand and minister by reason of the Glory of the Christ who has filled His Church—oh, then what joy we shall have that ever we were engaged in the work (emphasis mine)!

Last night our church gathered for its first ever worship service in our under-construction building. What a sweet and special time, never to be forgotten by this pastor! I took unceasing delight in person after person who came to the mic and shared verse after verse of Scripture that got written on those steel girders. Just to hear from the lips of so many such great esteem for God’s word thrilled me to the depths of my pastoral bones.

Many of those selections still swirl in my brain, but one stands out in particular. Unless the Lord builds the house those who build it labor in vain. What more appropriate reminder could we need than that as we near the half way point in the construction process? God must occupy the center of everything we do. When He does, we don’t get too busy and fussy with the work and we do know the joy of the happiest workers who ever lived. It is indeed a delight to do anything for the Lord Jesus.

And we get to labor together with His help in constructing a facility to house our ministry. As I reminded us last night, I remind us once again. We get to do this. This is our stewardship. The privilege is great. The rewards will prove worth it all. With the Lord’s help let us serve more than ever as the happiest workers who ever lived!

American Caesar's Fatal Flaw

Significant Christian leaders have referenced William Manchester’s bestselling biography of General Douglas MacArthur (1880-1964), American Caesar, among the most influential books of that genre a godly man might want to read.

Recently I picked up a copy to tackle for my neighborhood book club choose-your-own-biography night. I was not disappointed.

Prior to reading this nearly 800 page tome, all I knew about MacArthur I learned from watching Mash reruns on TV. Few generals have distinguished themselves in terms of military accomplishments like MacArthur did in the Pacific theater in WWII and the Korean conflict. I took notes as I read on the man’s numerous virtues as a leader, everything from bodacious courage to strategic planning.

But the biggest lesson learned from this read had to do with the man’s fatal flaw, his ultimate undoing. I will let Manchester explain:

Probably no other commander in chief relished the spotlight so much or enjoyed applause more. In a word, he was vain. Like every other creature of vanity, he convinced himself that his drives were in fact selfless. . . . What Douglas MacArthur believed in most was Douglas MacArthur. . . . The yearning for adulation was his great flaw. He had others, notably mendacity and overoptimism, based on his conviction that he was a man of destiny, which repeatedly led him to announce “mopping-up” operations before battles had been won. . . . But it was his manifest self-regard, his complete lack of humility, which lay like a deep fissure at his very core. In the end it split wide open and destroyed him ( p. 9).

Little wonder. The Bible says in Prov. 16:18, Pride goes before destruction, and a haughty spirit before a fall.

Now I am no MacArthur nor son of  a MacArthur, but I fight the temptation to relish the spotlight and enjoy applause. I wasn’t a theater major for nothing in my undergraduate, pre-Christian days. And God help me, I can love adulation way more than I should.

Douglas MacArthur’s legacy of hubris serves as a good reminder to me to embrace the words of the prophet Micah, which a young, budding preacher/church planter recently reminded me of: He has told you, O man, what is good; and what does the Lord require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God (6:8, emphasis added).

Are you guarding your heart from the fatal flaw of the American Caesar?