One of the participants in our recent workshop in Ghana shared this story that her mother had told her when growing up:
Once upon a time, there was an important Bishop of a Church who oversaw a great number of churches. Working for him was a young man, who started to serve the Bishop as a young child. This young man was tasked with bringing the Bishop his food, washing and ironing his clothes, shining his shoes, and running general errands. The young man was not quick in his work, but he was very thorough and careful. It frustrated the Bishop at times that tasks would take so long but he couldn’t complain about the outcome.
One day, as the Bishop and this young man were traveling to a nearby parish, their car was hit and they were both killed. Upon arriving in heaven, both were received with great joy and ushered in to receive their crowns. The Bishop was presented his crown first – beautiful and elegant – and he humbly accepted this on his head. But then the crown was brought out for the young man, and to the Bishop’s great surprise, it was even grander than his own. Unable to contain his surprise, he asked for clarification. “As the Bishop who has spent his life serving and building the Church, equipping leaders and saving souls, I’m surprised that my crown is smaller and less grand than the young man who was simply polishing my shoes and ironing my clothes.
Can someone explain this to me?”
Jesus, looking tenderly at the young man, decided to let the young man share thoughts that he hadn’t been invited to share while on earth. He asked him, “When you were serving the Bishop by ironing his clothes and polishing his shoes, can you tell us why it often took you a great amount of time?”
The young man looked up uncomfortably, glancing over at the Bishop, and then looking Jesus fully in the face, replied. “I knew the importance of my job. I was ironing the clothes of the man who would be introducing people to you, the King of Kings and the Lord of Lords. I was polishing the shoes of the man who would be carrying the message that could bring salvation for eternity to those who listened. I wanted those shoes and those clothes to be a reflection of the perfection of who you are so that when they saw them, they could see a glimpse of you.”
Colossians 3:23:24, “Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart as working for the Lord, not for human masters, since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward. It is the Lord Christ you are serving.”
What a powerful story to give your children. A reminder that our work has a much higher purpose than earthly masters, money, or self-achievement. It is the Lord that we are serving while working, reflecting a portion of who He is, as image-bearers and co-creators with him.