My "real" first job was in 1979 at Biscuitville in Raleigh, North Carolina. Over the course of my time with them I washed dishes, mowed grass, compacted a full dumpster, cleaned out the fry vats, cooked, made biscuits and ran the cash register. The manager, who is now Biscuitvilles Chief Operations Officer, was a great first boss. I finished my high school days working at as a glorified stock boy at a hospital and selling clothes at County Seat (an earlier version of American Eagle). During summers before and during college and during holiday breaks I did whatever I could to make money. During this period I worked construction, made highway signs with a group of ex-cons, installed office cubicles at a nuclear plant, worked third shift at a 24 hour hamburger restaurant, drove a dump truck, served as a summer youth minister, dripped with sweat in the paint shop in a factory, and acted as a contract public relations consultant for a proposed nuclear waste incinerator . Between college and seminary I worked as an apprentice real estate appraiser with the family firm. I married soon after the start of seminary and I turned my attention to ministry and served two churches as youth minister (where the experience was much more valuable than the salary). The season at Good Hope Baptist opened the door for me to become church planter/pastor at what would become Westwood Baptist Church in Cary, North Carolina. From there Beth and I headed across the globe and served as missionaries Southeast Asia, returning five years later to serve as a part of the CBF Global Missions. I now claim First Baptist Church of Oklahoma City as home and serve as its Senior Pastor.
While the journey has offered a host of twist and turns and some pretty odd jobs, each of them taught me something about the value of work and helped shape the man I am today. I was taught that if someone pays you a days for a days labor then you give them your best, now matter what the job. I hope all that I have worked with believe that I gave them my best. I also learned that there are some remarkable people out there doing the best they can to make their life, and their families lives, better. Perhaps the most powerful thing I learned was that there is dignity in any job where you do your best. Whether the job collar is white or blue, our labor is about more than earning a pay check, it is a building a life with the people you work beside each day and showing your character as you pour yourself into the task at hand. Hats Off to those who give their best every day. May those given charge over the labor of others understand that they have been entrusted with people created in the very image of God.
2We always thank God for all of you, mentioning you in our prayers. 3We continually remember before our God and Father your work produced by faith, your labor prompted by love, and your endurance inspired by hope in our Lord Jesus Christ. I Thessalonians 1:2-3
Grace and Peace, Tom