Monday, April 11, 2011

On Finishing Well

Last week I retired from my career of 20 years and 4 days in the Canadian Forces.  There is almost an endless amount of material from my career that might be worthy of comment, helpful in explaining some truth, or an example of what not to do in a particular situation; however it is my last year of service that truly defines my career.

Over the past few months, as I've been considering what to do next there has been ample time to review previous performance reviews and I've found that I can gladly include every review I can find (the last 7 years) with any resume I give out. I can honestly say that I have served my country well and that I was recognized for doing so. That being said for some time now it has been clear that it was time for me to move on to something new. A lot of situations in my life have changed me, changed my desires, dreams, ambitions and what I am dedicated to; not the least of which was getting saved and learning to help others hear about Christ. The last few years in the Canadian Forces were challenging for me on many levels. I didn't want to be there any more, but I had sworn an oath.

Now I want to be clear, I love the Canadian Forces. No matter what you might think of the concept, I am proud of the service I gave and of the Force I served in and with. I have been part of an organization that somehow mixes pride with pure unselfishness to stand between the citizens of Canada and danger.

I do not subscribe to "Lifestyle Evangelism" but can't deny that when you live and work as the Lord has instructed that people DO take notice.  I submitted my intention to release, and turned down all further contracts over a year and a half ago. Nearly everyone expected me to stop working, or do the bare minimum. Again and again it was commented that I should be slowing down. Instead, I caught my second wind and found joy in my work again. Overcoming challenges and accomplishing goals were no longer about getting promoted, now they were about me growing and truly working for my earthly masters as though I was working directly for the Lord. It made no sense to anyone - not even my superiors who seemed to be unsure what to do with me.

By the time my last week came around my superiors were no longer surprised that I was continuing to work harder than all my peers. As I was doing the final administration to retire a superior came to me and asked if I could finish a personnel evaluation report - a dreaded task! He was in a bind, and buttered me up by saying the "one guy I can always count on is leaving." I didn't even consider saying no to him, and not one single person in the organization was surprised to find me working away on it three days before I retired. It had become normal to see me to be going above and beyond.

So what's the pay off? Is it just so great to be admired? Hardly. The pay off is that while many of my other (truly saved) Christian co-workers will probably never get the opportunity to credibly share their faith with these supervisors - I did.

It took a lot of work. 

It is not the type of evangelism that I suggest be your primary style. 

It worked. 

As it played out a couple of times the day I left; as I stood in the office of a superior two ranks above me he asked me with a coy face - "Kevin, are you trying to change me?" 

I was able to answer truthfully and emphatically "I would do anything for that to happen, but it's not up to me." Acts 26:28-29

He knew it was between him and God, and that I wasn't asking him to join a club, or a religion. He knew I was serious, and that I wasn't just some flake. He knew God is serious. My mission was complete, those who believe will be saved and those who don't will be condemned. Mark 16:16

As much as I wanted to leave the Canadian Forces two years ago I'm glad the Lord kept me there - just long enough to finish well. 


Jan said...

Good for you, Kev!

I'm glad you are done and happy with the outcome. :)

You are absolutely right that we need to have a life that gives validity to what we believe. It is the part that James talks about where we show others our faith so it can be seen.

I think the Lord uses both kinds of "evangelism," depending on the situation. I knew nothing at all about the fellow who led me to Christ. I had never seen him before, nor ever again after. I don't even know what his name is. All I know about him is that his feet were shod with the preparation of the gospel of peace and he was faithful to the leading of the Holy Spirit to share with me and my friend. And to this day I am really glad God worked things out that way, for just that reason.

But then there are those who see us day in and day out. They need to see the Lord through us or they will not take the message seriously. I think of Lot, for example. There was a man with no testimony. Every word out of his mouth was true but the people around him did not even feel the least need to take him seriously.

More next post.


Jan said...

I have been reading about a situation where a church is in trouble because of something very bad that happened there. It is giving every enemy every opportunity to revile the faith and the name of Christ.

As believers we bear a solemn responsibility to honor God with our lives in this world. We MUST live in a manner worthy of Him, to please Him in all respects.

In some quarters we are entreated to live righteously for our OWN salvation. But really, our living righteous lives is more for the salvation of others, so they can see who Christ is and realize their need for His salvation. It is very very sobering what can happen when this is not done.


Kevl said...

Recently an Elder of our church preached a message on 2Cor 3:1-3 talking about believers as Christ's Epistles to the world.

He could have done so many things that were wrong in the message that would have sounded godly - but he didn't. He took exactly the approach you just did in your last two comments.

Our testimony isn't determinative of the power of our salvation - it is determinative of the power of our witness.

Understanding this is a game changer for Christians - I truly believe this. It takes the focus off of us and onto reaching the lost.


Jan said...

Our testimony isn't determinative of the power of our salvation - it is determinative of the power of our witness.

I'm stealing that!

Understanding this is a game changer for Christians - I truly believe this. It takes the focus off of us and onto reaching the lost.

Yep. With our own salvation issue dealt with we are free to concern ourselves with the Lord's concerns for the lost. We no longer have to divide our energy that way.

I know with all I have been reading lately about how churches are really messing up out there I have been in serious prayer about my own witness/walk. I don't want to be a stumbling block to the lost.