For years now I have been trying to make a living through contract work and I fear I am not up to the task. It is not because I don’t have the skills, but rather because I don’t have the thick skin necessary to survive.
I have been blessed to work with many good people. I have met many servants of God who labor to put on great conferences. I treasure the words of encouragement from audience members, my students, and from those who have read my work. I try to focus on this evidence that God has a plan for the work He sets before me and that He brings that plan to fulfillment.
Yet, the sinner in me, the part of me that doubts, has not seemed to develop that necessary thick skin. I cannot count the number of institutions that have treated me poorly. I have had contracts cancelled without warning, contracted work changed in mid-stream, expectations of free work, contracts that are all law and no grace, and a horrible lack of any kind of communication that seems to come with the expectation that I can read minds. These actions often come after I am told that my work is valued.
A contract worker is easy to blame, easy to gossip about, and easy to dismiss because there will be no awkward moments in the break room. Besides we cannot be very good at what we do if we are willing to do it for so little pay. We are granted little worth.
Yet, what is my worth in this world? Why do I tie it to compensation, accomplishments, or the way I am treated?
A few weeks ago we sang a beautiful song in church called “My Worth is Not in What I Own.” I have the video bookmarked and I listen to the song nearly every day. Like a child asking for the same book to be read over and over, again, I have more to learn.
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My worth is not in what I own; my place in this world does not matter.
My worth is not in what I accomplish; anything I accomplish is God’s work, not mine.
My worth is not in who I vote for; my identity is found in my God-given faith.
My worth is not in my social media posts; my actions speak louder than my words and only God can cause a heart to change.
My worth is not in how I am treated; my sins tell me what treatment I deserve.
Ash Wednesday is a good day for me to set aside my pouting and my doubt. Here, God teaches me an important lesson about my worth. He reminds me that I am not worthy of the love He showers on me. I am not worthy of what Christ has done for me. I do not need a thick skin; I need a tender heart that seeks God’s mercy.
Two wonders here that I confess
My worth and my unworthiness
My value fixed - my ransom paid
At the cross
And He does indeed shower me with mercy. Christ has taken on my unworthiness and replaced it with healing and peace.
He was despised and rejected by men, a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief; and as one from whom men hide their faces he was despised, and we esteemed Him not. Surely He has borne our griefs and carried our sorrows; yet we esteemed Him stricken, smitten by God, and afflicted. But He was pierced for our transgressions; He was crushed for our iniquities; upon Him was the chastisement that brought us peace, and with His wounds we are healed, Isaiah 53:3-5