Thursday, March 27, 2014

Being Master

Our gardener/yard worker, Nirmala, had to stop working for us about a month ago because her husband did not want her working for us. He is not a Christian, and I think he does not want our influence on her. She was learning so much. We hated to lose her, but encouraged her in her submission to her husband. We are thankful she can still visit with us.

But once again, we are left with the decision. Do we hire someone else to replace her? Is it a need? Will it benefit the ministry here? Several months ago I did a blog post on To Hire or Not to Hire. It seems we are back at the same spot-- deciding what is best for our family, and seeking God's leadership.

I am thankful we still have Dipikha, our house worker, sister in Christ, and our dear friend.

This is actually a great time for me to examine my role as boss... or "master."

Master: authority, controller

Ephesians 6:9 "And, ye masters, do the same things unto them,
forbearing threatening: knowing that your Master also is in heaven;
neither is there respect of persons with him."

Do the same things unto them? What same things?

In the previous verses, the servants were given instructions, too.

Ephesians 6:5-8 "Servants, be obedient to them that are your masters according to the flesh, with fear and trembling, in singleness of your heart, as unto Christ; Not with eyeservice, as menpleasers; but as the servants of Christ, doing the will of God from the heart; With good will doing service, as to the Lord, and not to men:
Knowing that whatsoever good thing any man doeth,
the same shall he receive of the Lord, whether he be bond or free."

The Same Things Unto Them
1. Be an example of obedience with those in authority over us, with fear, trembling, and singleness of heart.

     I expect obedience, submission, and respect from those who work for me, but do I give it to those who are in authority over me? Do I do it with singleness of heart, or do I murmur and complain? Do I have a problem with rejecting their counsel because of pride simply because I am the authority, or do I really listen to what they have to say? Do I show respect to those who work for me?

2. Do our labor as unto Christ, not eye service as man pleasers.

     I must admit, it is a temptation to "look busy" because Dipikha is busy. I don't want her thinking I am lazy. But isn't that manpleasing? Shouldn't I be more concerned about how God views my time usage? What about how I raise and teach the children? Am I concerned about what she may think since she overhears such a large portion of what goes on in our home? Or am I focused on pleasing the Lord in my child rearing?

3. Do the will of God from the heart.

     Dipikha is a Christian. I expect her to serve the Lord from the heart by doing her work diligently, cheerfully, and heartily. Do I lead her in the same manner? Do I do my own work in the same manner?

4. Serve with good will, just as you expect them to serve you with good will, as unto the Lord.

    Do I have a heart to serve her? Do I look for ways to share the love of Christ with her? When God blesses me, do I think of sharing the blessings with her? Do I share how God is working in my life with her?

(Introducing Dipikha's family to roasting marshmallows)

Forbear Threatenings

The fruit of the Spirit should shine through us toward those under our authority. Remember, they are made of the same dust you are.

Galatians 5:22-23 "But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, Meekness, temperance: against such there is no law."

James 1:19 "Wherefore, my beloved brethren, let every man be swift to hear, slow to speak, slow to wrath:" 

One of the most humbling and unexpected complements came from Dipikha after her family opened a new cafe'. She began telling me about how everyone working there was so happy and enjoyed the job. She asked them one day why they liked working there. They said it was because when they made mistakes, she never yelled at them. She was kind and patient. I told her that was very good and that it honored God.

"I learned it from you, Auntie. When I make a mistake, you never get angry. You always treat me kind. I thought, that is kind of boss I want to be because I like working here very much. I am very happy here. I want them to be happy working for me, too. When people are happy, they will work harder."

Talk about bringing tears to the eyes! And, yes, her joy in working here shows in how well she works. She takes her labor very seriously. We have become family.

(Dipikha taking Gabriel's stuffed animal for a Ferris wheel ride)

Do Not Have Respect of Persons

When people come under our authority, they do not become less of a person. We shouldn't treat them with any less love or respect simply because we are in authority. We should never abuse our authority.

When Dipikha first came to work for us, we made it very clear that she wasn't just a worker. She was our friend. We live in a culture that has the caste system. A person's birth determines their worth, their standing in society, the jobs they can have, and how they are treated. God hates that. And so should we. With that in mind, when we introduce Dipikha to someone, we intentionally introduce her by saying, "This is our friend, Dipikha. She comes and helps us in the house." We are making a declaration that she is our friend and had better be treated that way. 

She eats at our table when we eat. She plays with us. She goes places with us. When she goes shopping with me, I make a point of trying to carry as many bags as she carries. Though we are seen as the "rich, important people" in this culture, we make it obvious we do not see ourselves as any different than any other person in this place.

When she makes a mistake, we correct her, but we do it in a manner that shows compassion and love.

I also try not to ask her to do anything that I would not be willing to come along side her and help her do if needed. (With the exception of getting centipedes out of the house. Oh. And killing big spiders. She knows that is her labor of love for me... and she laughs every time.)


Colossians 4:1 "Masters, give unto your servants that which is just and equal; knowing that ye also have a Master in heaven." 

Give them fair pay and proper means to accomplish their labor. I know we like to save money and pinch pennies, rupees, or whatever the currency is, but saving money so much that our workers are not treated well is wrong. We expect to be paid fair wages for our labor, faithfully and on time. Our workers should expect no less. They deserve no less.

They also need the proper tools to do their job. Don't make them "get by" just to save some money. Another thing I learned... some cultures expect you to feed them while they are working for you. In America, if I hired someone (builder, plumber, painter, etc.) I expected them to bring their lunch if they needed it. If we had people volunteering at our house, you can bet they had a great lunch prepared by me! But here, it is customary (and kind) to provide hired labor with lunch. Many times, they are working that day for the food they will eat THAT DAY. They will not ask for it most of the time, but it sure hurts your testimony if you don't provide it! Find out what is typically expected of you. Maybe your culture requires the same?

Find out about the hardships that are created by them working for you. (Long travel? Consider paying them a little for travel time or paying for the public transportation.) Show compassion.


We have our Heavenly Master who has made these things our duty. Just as we expect our workers to complete their duties, and reward and correct accordingly, our Master in Heaven does the same for us.

May it never be said of us that Christians or missionaries are terrible employers.

by Charity, Southern Asia

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