The thought of being a slave shoots my anxiety levels through the roof. As I write this, I'm remembering I haven't done my morning chores and that sense of leaving dirty dishes in the sink has me looking over my shoulder for Chef Nick, the first boss I ever had a teenage dishwasher. Nick ran a tight ship and everyone knew he was the boss. He made sure of it. Nick was a huge man with a furious temper. He was driven and demanded excellence. No. Nick demanded perfection.
My next job was the Marines. During the first few weeks of boot camp, I never missed a boss so much as I missed Nick. If I thought he was a terrorizing, exacting, humiliating, micro-managing boss, I hadn't seen nothing yet. No one's a tougher boss than your drill instructor. Nothing gives you more anxiety than having one of those muscle bound, government empowered, spitting-saliva-into-your-face-while-they-scream-at-you-from-an-inch-away United States Marine Corps drill instructors.
Oh how I longed for Nick's standard of driving results. He was a teddy bear. That's how I remember Nick now.
You've had all kinds of bosses in your life. Some harsh and some are remembered fondly, even affectionately. It's the harsh ones that evoke the anxiety I'm talking about. You get that. You remember them most. That needs no explanation. Your boss humiliates you, undermines your work, and is demonstrably irritated by your presence. Or are you the boss and this is how people describe you? You probably don't know it.
Ultimately, my problem, the source of my anxiety when I read these words of Paul is that I hate – no, HATE! – being a slave. That's the bottom line. I even hate the idea of being the slave of Jesus when the title "slave" is attached to the description of me. But here's what I know about Him as a Master:
•The work he gives you is light.
•His work is only good.
•The provision He provides is nourishing.
•His assignments benefit others
•Slavery under Jesus is a supremely freeing way to work or live—certainly superior to any alternative offered by any other master.
When I'm in the role of a slave, I need to remember this about my Master. When I'm the boss, I need to represent the example of my Master. He only does good things.