Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace. And be thankful. Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom, and as you sing psalms, hymns and spiritual songs with gratitude in your hearts to God. And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him. Colossians 3:15-17
They laugh at me at work, because my favorite day of the week is Monday.
I am what is known as a bi-vocational minister, that is to say that although I love my job as pastor of First Christian Church on weekends, during the week I put on another hat and become an English language instructor at Bilingual Education Institute in Houston. At BEI I teach English to young people and adults of all ages. I do this for four hours every day, 49 weeks a year, teaching in the Intensive English Program that is designed to prepare a student for college or university work within a year’s time. The program has a total of eight levels, and I usually teach in levels 2 and 3, which is to say that I am teaching high beginners and low intermediates. Currently, I have students from Turkey, Qatar, Venezuela, Angola, China, Taiwan, Thailand, Saudi Arabia, Equatorial Guinea, and Pakistan. And I love my job—almost as much as I love being pastor of First Christian.
I am aware, moreover, what a gift it is to carry the peace of Christ, indeed the rule of the peace of Christ, into my work. At work, people around me suffer a significant level of stress. The uncertainty over refugees, immigration, and visas has created uncertainty about the viability of some of BEI’s programs. Believe it or not, in Houston there is a great deal of competition between language institutes that offer programs similar to ours. The students are often very stressed also. Some have left family behind in dangerous or uncertain circumstances. Some have a student visa by way of being able to remain in the US while a spouse receives medical care. Some are very homesick and suffering from culture shock (Houston is VERY different from other places in the world in terms of transportation, temperature, and food).
I cannot preach the gospel at my work, although I can and do offer to pray for people. I also, however, hope to be a witness to the gospel in the way that I conduct myself. If I am cheerful, enthusiastic, humble, and empathetic, then perhaps the Love of Christ will indeed shine through me. But I don’t simply want to display these qualities because it is my duty—I enjoy life and the people around me much more this way. If Christ shines through me, then the light that reflects from me to others bounces upon them and reflects back to me!
On Fridays I often take my guitar to school and teach simple songs to my students. One of the songs that I love to teach is the Shaker Hymn, Simple Gifts.
‘Tis a gift to be simple,
‘Tis a gift to be free,
‘Tis a gift to come down where we ought to be,
And when we find ourselves in the place just right
‘Twill be in the valley of Love and Delight
When true simplicity is gained
To bow and to bend we shan’t be ashamed;
To turn, turn will be our delight,
‘Til by turning, turning we come round right.
May God grant you to begin to know the rule of the peace of Christ in your life and vocation, and may you find great joy when Sunday turns to Monday!