Woodrow Wilson once said, "We grow by dreams. All big [individuals] are dreamers. They see things in the soft haze of a spring day, or in the red fire on a long winter's evening. Some of us let those great dreams die, but others nourish and protect them; nourish them through bad days until they bring them to the sunshine and light which comes always to those who sincerely hope that their dreams will come true."
We all have our dreams. A man named Abram had his dream. Go to a new land, father a new people, and his name would be a blessing forever. His dream came from God. Was God faithful to His promise to Abram, or as we know him, Abraham? Today the great religions of the world--Judaism, Christianity--trace their roots to this dreamer who stepped out and put his dreams into reality. Why was he so successful? Because his dream was God's dream. What is God's dream for your life? Find that dream and act on it and you will find life!
After watching the man bow his head and speak in a soft voice, the girl asked her parents, "What did Mr. Bryan say to his plate?" Jesus asked a similar question concerning the leaders of his day. They spoke not prayers to God, but empty words trying to impress others and trying to appear successful.
Jesus said in our scripture reading today, "They love to have the place of honor at banquets and the best seats in the synagogues, and be greeted with respect in the marketplaces, and have people call them rabbi." The religious leaders seemed to be more concerned about appearing to be successful than serving God's people.
I read once about James Moore, a minister, who was invited to participate in a "Career Day on Campus." He was to be part of a panel discussion. Panelists were to discuss, "How Faith Influences Your Choice of a Career." First, panelists were asked to introduce themselves and mention their particular vocations. It was all rather routine. One woman gave her name and said, "I'm an attorney." A man gave his name and said, "I'm in business and I own a computer company." A woman gave her name and said, "I'm in real estate." When it was Moore's turn he said, "I'm a minister." The person seated next to him was a doctor. The doctor's statement changed that mundane situation into a special and sacred moment.
He said, "We are here today to talk about vocation." He told them that the word vocation meant "calling." "Well," the doctor told them, "my calling is to be a Christian and one way to do that is through the practice of medicine."
James Moore reflected afterwards, the doctor's life was a success, but his priority was service. Jesus said, "All who exalt themselves will be humbled, and all who humble themselves will be exalted."
What kind of attitude do we have about our work and the things we do in life? We may not like our boss or our working situation. We may not have much control over what we do. But, we do have control over our attitude. A positive attitude can make a big difference. And if we view our work and activities as a calling, then maybe someone for the first time may experience God's love and freedom in Jesus Christ through us.
Our jobs can be a vocation if we can see them as an extension of God's ultimate purpose. But, if our jobs are only a means of securing wealth, or passing time, or achieving status, they will eventually be a great burden to us. If, however, we can see them as an extension of God's plan for humanity--each of us doing our part to clothe people, feed people, teach people, and do thousands of other things to help one another, then we make God's world a better place. And we can get up each morning with enthusiasm believing that we are living God's call.
In our scripture reading today, Samuel was being called to be a priest of God. There may be some of us today who are hearing God's call to full-time Christian service. However, for most of us, we are being called to make our work an extension of our faith and love.