The Family Business
Last month I forgot what my job was.
I didn’t forget my title or my place of business. This was a deeper kind of forgetting. I lost track of what it is I really do.
I realized it one day last week while I was teaching the fourth piano student of the afternoon. A bit weary, I pondered how many times I had shown a child how to find middle C and keep a steady beat.
Then suddenly, as a student and I worked to create a sound picture that would nourish not only listeners’ ears but their hearts, I remembered. My goal is not to teach the Minuet in G with perfectly counted eighth and quarter notes. I am hoping for much bigger things.
Through music, my students have the opportunity to connect with the stories of people across cultures and centuries. When they perform for others, they develop poise. As they sit at the piano bench day after day, they learn the powerful results of self-discipline and perseverance. And in ensemble with others, they taste the joy of being part of something bigger than themselves.
Those are the things music did for me as a student. They are the reasons I became a teacher in the first place.
The notes and rhythms, the marks on a page are not the point of studying music. They are simply the tools I teach my students to handle as they learn to create beauty and to express themselves.
It was a relief to rediscover my job description. As I relished a renewed joy and sense of purpose, it struck me how many ways we can forget what our calling means.
Mamas forget that our job is more than meals, laundry, carpool, and settling sibling squabbles. Our faithful care provides security, love, and safe boundaries. We give our young ones a place to try out new skills and to practice empathy. In our homes, they learn to become capable people ready to take their own place in the world.
When employees go to work we begin to focus on keeping accounts, selling products, tending the sick, or repairing leaky faucets. It has slipped from our mind that there is more. We are using our talents, creating valuing for those around us, and providing for our families.
Christ followers hold Sunday services, potlucks, meetings, and classes. If we’re not careful, we can engage in a lot of activity without engaging our hearts.
We can walk out of the building, no closer to loving God with all our hearts, souls, and minds or loving our neighbors as ourselves.
It’s easy to confuse the methods with the mission.
If we fixate on all we need to do, we forget that the splendor is in what we become or help others become. We are part of something much grander than the tasks and goals we usually focus on.
Because we are part of God’s family, we have a role in the family business. We are working toward the conclusion of a grand narrative - the epic story of the lost being found, the broken being redeemed, the enslaved set free.
It started with Jesus. He was clear about his job, from at least the age of 12. He told his parents when they found him lingering at the temple that he had to be about his Father’s business.
When he began to teach and heal, he told those who questioned him that the Son “can only do what he sees his Father doing” and that he came to seek and save the lost.
As the time for Jesus’ death approached, he entrusted his work to his disciples, reminding them that he had chosen them to go and bear fruit and to love one another as he had loved them. He saw them again for a brief time after his resurrection, and left them with final instructions to share the good news of his redeeming love, passing on all he had taught them.
So while we go about our daily rounds of work, service, tending to family, and leisure activities, let’s remind each other what we are really here for.
We have met the One who came to bring life, and bring it to the full. The One who brought a truth that sets people free. The One who beckons the weary to come to him and find rest.
Now our joyful job is to follow the example of the apostle Philip and the woman at the well, who in turn were following the example of Jesus. When they understood who He was and what he came to do, they ran to tell friends and neighbors to come and see him.
Our lives are meant to point others to the lover of their souls. Everything else is just details. Let’s roll up our sleeves, my friends. We’ve got work to do!