PAYDAY & A RAISE
I remember back many years ago, when as a young, and still fairly new physical therapist, I started a new job. It just so happened that because of when I started this job, and how that date fell into my employers pay cycle, that I had to work for almost a full month before my first paycheck came.
As a young father with 2 children and my wife expecting our third, going that long between paychecks put more than a bit of a strain on us financially. That combined with all the stress of trying to learn the new systems, facilities, procedures and responsibilities at my new job, gradually took its toll. Although I was doing my best to be a good employee and an inspiring therapist to the clients I was working with each day, I have to admit that as the end of that not-yet-paid 4 week cycle came around, I began to wonder if I had made a mistake. Was I ever going to get paid at all?
When that first payday finally rolled around, my employer called me into his office for an interview. As he handed me that first check, he thanked me for the good job I had been doing. He stated that some of the other staff in the facility had mentioned good things about me and were happy I was there. He also took a few minutes to offer some kind and encouraging suggestions of how I could continue to improve as I became gradually more familiar with everything in the charting and billing systems, and in meeting the insurance requirements but also expressed his confidence in my ability to continue to excel in my performance.
He closed by thanking me for being a part of the therapy team there, and as he stood to shake my hand, he smiled and looked me in the eye and said, “And because you have started out so well and I can tell you are doing your best, even though you’ve just started with us, I also want to pretend like it’s a new job offer and give you a small raise as a token of my appreciation for your efforts, which are so needed in our organization.”
Wow!!! In just an instant I had gone from a somewhat worn out, frustrated employee, to feeling full of life and rejuvenation! I went on to work many years at that establishment, and felt a loyalty and commitment to them far beyond any previous place I had ever worked to that point in time.
I happened to reflect on that memory this Sunday afternoon, and I realized that initial employment situation is similar in many ways to my life each week.
Each Monday morning I set out with the intention of being a good person, the best employee I can at work, wanting to be a better husband to my wife and a better father to my children. I want to be full of kind thoughts, and not be judgmental or frustrated with others around me. I seek to be kind and helpful to those I come in contact with, and perhaps be a bit quicker to pick up on things without having to learn the hard way.
But alas, each day and week seems to take its toll, and are soon littered with faults, mistakes and frustrations along the way. No matter how hard I try, I can never quite measure up to the perfection in achieving the goals I have set for myself, and by the time Sunday morning rolls around, I still carry many of the wounds I have inflicted upon myself and others, and sometimes wonder if it was all worth it.
But then a remarkable thing happens when I go to Church. In our weekly congregational meeting, the simple yet sacred ordinance of the Sacrament is blessed and offered by designated priesthood authorities.
It is a time of personal reflection with my Savior about how the week has gone as I partake of those emblems of His atoning sacrifice. I ponder on the many faults I still carry in my soul, mixed with the desires I have to be more a Christ like and good person.
And I find it is much like sitting with my old boss at that first meeting. The Lord, through the tender mercies of His Spirit, offers praise for my feeble efforts, along with suggestions of how I can continue to improve. His love is present to let me know that He is pleased with my being there as a part of His team, and then, despite my many shortcomings and failures, He offers blessings for my imperfect efforts and He even offers me a spiritual raise by wiping my slate completely clean and letting me start anew once again. He lets me know that it is worth the effort, to keep trying again in the coming week, and that if I will continue to do my best for Him and those around me that He will always be willing to stay committed to me and always wants to have me as part of His organization.
It may seem like such a small and simple thing, which can be so easily overlooked and forgotten about, much like I had forgotten getting that first paycheck and raise at work all those many years ago. But if I constantly look forward to that weekly “job performance” review and interview, then the pay is always much more than I deserve, and the spiritual raise always comes, every time, without fail. And it is available to every single one of us each and every week if we are willing, eager and longingly seek for that spiritual interview and renewal.
In reality, these moments of spiritual cleansing, renewal and raising have so very little to do with the adequacy of our efforts, and literally EVERYTHING to do with His vast love for us and His desire for us to succeed.
But if those are the remarkably generous terms of our employment contract with Him… well, I am willing to keep that job for the rest of my life and the eternities beyond.
Happy Sabbath Everyone! And I hope we never tire or make commonplace the sacred ordinance of the Sacrament and what that really means to each and every one of us!