For the last five months I worked as an apprentice at a local Tulsa tattoo shop. I have spent a lot of time in church environments but it was at this shop that I learned some of the greatest lessons about being a follower of Christ that I have yet to learn. I wanted to take a few minutes and share some of these things with you.
!. We are made to work hard.
My primary job in life is that of a pastor. It is what fuels my soul, pays my bills and keeps food on the table. My church was gracious enough to allow me to try my hand at something I have been passionate about for years. However, in order to do so I was going to have to work really hard. I worked 80 hours a week. 40 hours for the church and 40 hours for the tattoo shop. I must admit that laziness is something that I can come by fairly easy. I have never worked 7 days a week for any extended amount of time, but now I know that I can do it. The only way to get over being lazy is to work so hard that you forget what it feels like to be lazy. God created us to work. He gave Adam large goals to accomplish and told Noah to build a giant boat by hand with very few workers. Hard work refines our character in a unique way, it squeezes us until our weaknesses either overtake us or we overtake them. Jesus worked hard, and I would argue that he still is. He worked hard as a carpenter, worked hard to disciple people, he worked hard to accomplish his goals, and he is still working hard to bring people to the truth.
The beautiful thing though is that his work never defined him. We know this because Jesus also knew how to rest. God commanded the Israelite's to rest once they were set free from slavery so they would not fall into the trap of finding their identity solely from what they could do with their hands. Our identity should never come from what we can do, but from what God has done on our behalf. Work can easily become an idol. Hard work has a strange instant gratification that can be misleading. It can easily become the reason we get up in the morning instead of realizing that our hard work should be a reflection of God and not a replacement for Him. Now that my schedule has slowed down I remember how important a sabbath day is and I also know that I can never go back to being lazy again.
2. We are made to obey
As a Christian I often use the term disciple to describe my relationship with Christ. But I don't think we use that term properly. Most likely because we don't use it anywhere else outside of scripture so it is hard for us to relate to. One of the hardest things for me as an apprentice was learning to take orders from someone. I have been the lead pastor of our church for over 5 years and I was simply not used to being the bottom guy on the totem pole. I did get the chance to work on my art skills but mostly I cleaned things, fixed things, painted the bathroom and door trip and cleaned again. Whenever I was asked to do something, I only had one option in how to respond. No matter what the job was, I could simply say, "yes sir." That was it. No arguing or debating (which was difficult) no excuses just, "yes sir." Sometimes the word "yes" came our of my mouth effortlessly when it was something I was excited about doing, but other times, I had to swallow my pride and agree to a task that I was not overly excited about. But through it all I learned one of the greatest lessons I have yet learned as a disciple of Christ, when God asks you to do something, you really only have one option in how to respond. I think we know this in our heads, we use terminology like "Jesus is Lord" and "I'm a bond servant to Christ" or even sing songs that tell us to "trust and obey" but then we argue, debate, and often times say yes with our lips and no with our hearts. For Christ to truly be our Lord we must learn to submit, even when we don't understand, because he is after all the teacher and we are his student.
I'm so grateful for the 6 months I got to chase this little dream of mine. But I have an even bigger dream, and that is to reach the city of Tulsa with the love of Christ. I'm even more grateful for the relationships that were built at the shop, never judge anyone by their appearance because Tattoo artist are some of the hardest working and loyal friends a person could ask for.
Caleb is lead pastor at Logos Church and enjoys writing about pop culture, Star Wars, Jesus and what effective ministry might look like in Tulsa.