The year 2020 introduced new words into our vocabulary that have now become commonplace. COVID, Coronavirus, social distancing, pandemic, virtual meetings, virtual learning, contact-free, face-coverings, quarantine and essential worker are some that easily come to mind.
COVID-19 introduced protocols and procedures that have changed how we interact with each other in the world.
One term that became popular during the government mandated “shutdowns” was the term essential worker. It was during this time, local governments requested businesses close and people stay home to prevent the spread of the virus. That was unless you were deemed—essential. Just as the restrictions varied from state to state and municipality to municipality – so did the classifications as to what employees were considered essential.
2020: THE YEAR OF THE ESSENTIAL WORKER
Some have called 2020 “The Year of the Essential Worker”. Professions like nurses, doctors, law enforcement, and first responders were lauded as heroes. People wore the title of essential worker as a badge of honor. Occupations such as plumbing, electricians, utility workers, lawn care and grocery store workers were thrust in the forefront as we were reminded just how essential they are.
As a 9-1-1 professional, I am among the essential. I was still able to and expected to be at work every day. There were some benefits to being deemed essential. Some benefits include continuing to work without interruption in income, receiving free/discounted meals from restaurants, and receiving hazard pay. My favorite benefit came from the State of Tennessee. Essentials workers received free child care for the year beginning in March. My husband and I paid 9k in daycare costs last year. Since April of this year, we’ve paid nothing.
While my family and I have been fortunate to remain employed and not experience any health challenges, there was still something tugging at my spirit.
There were inconsistencies that would not allow me to take full pride in my status of being an essential worker. That’s when I realized that I had always been an essential worker; even before the pandemic. I became focused on my status as an essential worker, not for the City of Memphis or the Memphis Police Department; but for God’s Kingdom.
I am essential worker in THE Kingdom.
In America, churches were closed. People were not allowed to gather for worship. However, people were allowed to assemble to protest. Beauty salons and barber shops were not allowed to operate. But liquors stores remained open for business and were designated as essential. We were ordered to wear masks when COVID has a 99 percent survival rate. But we can still purchase cigarettes that cause lung cancer; which has a 23 percent survival rate.
Pondering these inconsistencies, I began to take less pride in being an essential worker in America. I decided to focus on making sure I am fulfilling my responsibilities as an essential worker in the Kingdom.
The book of Matthew is where we see the life of Jesus. He could be found teaching, preaching and healing the sick. He told his disciples, The harvest is plentiful but the workers are few. 38 Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into his harvest field.”
Then Jesus gave his disciples the authority to “drive out impure spirits and to heal every disease and sickness.” Then in Mark, Jesus stated if we follow him, he will make us “fishers of men”. Those of us that identify as followers of Christ are modern day disciples. Today we might even rebrand ourselves as essentials workers.
In the Kingdom, winning souls for Christ is our assignment. God is the CEO. Jesus is the manager. The Holy Spirit is our direct supervisor. The Bible is our employee manual and our fellow believers are our co-workers. Job Location: THE WORLD
As an essential worker in God’s Kingdom, we have been directed to:
Keep God’s commandments
There are multiple verses in the Bible that reference the importance of keeping God’s commandments, observing his statues and ordinances. These are the guiding principles, basic laws.
Not love the, World (1 John 2:15)
We have been directed to not love the world or anything in it. The Bible goes on to state that if we love the world we cannot love the Father. We cannot love both. God makes clear that as Christians we are called to live a separated life. This does not mean we are not to value our worldly possessions or worldly associations, etc. It means we cannot love them. We cannot value them more than we value being in the will of God. Our Father’s will should be paramount. When our earthly desires conflict, we can lay them down and make the choice to serve him.
Make disciples of all nations and teach God’s commandments. (Matthew 28: 19-20)
God wants us to make disciples and add followers to HIS kingdom. Today society is concerned with how many followers we have. People study how to build followers on social media platforms. As an essential worker in the Kingdom, we should be adding to the Kingdom. When is the last time you told someone about the goodness of Jesus? When is the last time you tried to lead someone to Jesus – not to yourself?
Have faith Hebrews 11:6
Hebrews tells us that it is impossible to please God without faith. We must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who seek him. I believe it. All this year while the world was going crazy due to COVID, I was not shaken. I had faith that God would keep me. I remembered that he would never let the righteous be forsaken. If I fell ill, I had faith that he would heal me. If he called me from labor to reward- I have my earthly affairs in order. Most importantly, I’m in right relationship with the Father and I have faith that he would greet me.
Seek God first and pursue righteousness (Mathew 6:33)
Once again, we are warned to limit our worries regarding things of the world. We are reminded that God knows we need food and clothing and will provide them. Here God is teaching us about priorities. Prioritize Kingdom business first and then “all these things will be added unto you.” People seek after jobs, houses, education, cars, awards, and clothing. How much time do we spend in prayer and Bible study, seeking the word and will of God? Do you have God first in your life? As an essential worker, put God in his rightful place.
The benefits of being an essential worker are found in the promises of God. God promises us that we will never be forsaken. He promises that ALL things will work together for OUR GOOD. He promises us peace, grace, prosperity and to always be with us.
Working for the kingdom is much more fruitful and rewarding than our earthly jobs. In fact, our earthly jobs should be yet another medium for kingdom building. No matter what our occupations or titles are on earth, we can rest assured as believers that we are essential to God’s kingdom. Therefore, we must get our news and take our cues from the WORD and not the WORLD. What is popular and acceptable in the world will continue to change. There will always be new norms and “new normal”, but God remains the same.
Kingdom building is not for the weak. That’s why God commands us to be strong and courageous and remember he will be with us wherever we go. (Joshua 1:9) When times get hard, when doubt creeps in and you are wondering if it’s worth it – remember that “NO good thing will he withhold from those who walk uprightly.” (Psalm 84:11)