vocation

Bolts, Screws and the Gospel: Reflections on Working at a Hardware Store

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By Brandon Webber

One year ago, my family and I were at a point of transition, seeking to plant roots in one place. But, as you know, you need an income in order to plant roots. I drove to Tupelo, Mississippi on a prayer. Several doors had closed; I was starting to feel desperate. My plan was to go to the coffee shop, pray and hope something happens. Sure enough, I soon received word that my father’s friend was looking to hire someone at his local fastener shop to fulfill a warehouse position. This wasn’t my first choice. But, long story short, I started a week later. God yet again answered a prayer and showed Himself faithful.

As an aspiring entrepreneur, working at a hardware store certainly isn’t my dream job. But as I reflect on this first year, I have learned several lessons that may encourage anyone else in the same boat.

You don’t have to be a company chaplain to minister to the people you work with.

1. You can do anything for a season.

When I started at the hardware store, I was desperate. I needed a job to provide for my family. I needed a way into the community. And I needed some sort of direction. I expressed these things to them when they hired me, and I assured them that I would work at least one year.

At first, the job was fun because of its newness. However, as with all things, the newness wore off and it began to feel more like work. Many days I regretted the one-year commitment. But the Lord has shown me time and time again that His endurance outlasts my endurance. His strength outlasts my strength. And His joy and contentment go further than mine ever will. Even now, I am learning what Paul meant when he said he could do all things in Christ who gives him strength (Philippians 4:13). This verse is about finding contentment in circumstances that we would not usually choose. In Christ, if He leads you and you lean on Him, you can do anything for a season.

2. Work is good.

I know God made us to work. I know we will be working in heaven. I know Jesus, Paul, David, Joseph and the disciples all worked. I know He created Adam and Eve to till the garden and subdue it. I know God has created all things good, including work.

Yet I have struggled with these truths in the past. Whether it be because of my upbringing, general anxiety when it came to work, or past job experiences, “work” and “job” have always just put a bad taste in my mouth. God has and is redeeming those terms for me. He is bridging the gap of my theology and practice.

In working this past year, I have felt a sense of purpose that has come from working that I have never experienced before. My job is not changing the world, but that is okay. There is something profoundly spiritual in working not for man but for the glory of God and providing for the ones whom the Lord has placed in your care. I have felt a sense of purpose and obedience to God’s command to till the earth and subdue it simply by going to work every day and doing my job well.

As life happens, gospel opportunities will arise.

3. Gospel opportunities will come.

I work with 4 non-believers. I have learned that as life happens, gospel opportunities will arise. My prayer has been that I would live in a way that was different and bear the fruit of the Spirit in my job. God has taught me that if you do your job well and love people along the way, then they will want to hear what you have to say.

This past year, there have been several life-events happen throughout our small team, and the Lord has allowed me to counsel and shepherd these men who never step foot in a local church towards Jesus and His bride.

This process has not always been easy. And working around 4 unbelievers has definitely taken its toll on me. In addition, I have not done this perfectly. Some days I feel lazy or selfish and would rather call out their stubbornness or sin than bite my tongue and serve. I oftentimes desire to choose to be lazy rather than selfless. This is a constant battle, as I know that my life carries my words in a way that I desire to show them Jesus. Living as a Christian in a secular workplace is hard, and you need discernment from the Holy Spirit every day. In the same way that you do not have to be paid by the church to serve it, you don’t have to be a company chaplain to minister to the people you work with.

Conclusion

The Lord has shown me much through this experience, and the lessons I learned in 4 years of Bible training and 2 years of missions experience have applied to working in the blue-collar secular workforce. I am a huge advocate for integrating faith at work, and every day I see God work in mysterious ways in my workplace. Just by showing up, the believer can give the Holy Spirit an opportunity to impact culture and show people love that they have never experienced before. God cares deeply about your work, and it is okay if you are not at your dream job right now. You are glorifying God just by clocking in and walking in the Spirit.

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Brandon Webber

Brandon lives in Tupelo, MS with his wife Alex and son Elliot where they're members of The Church at Trace Crossing. He works at Ace Bolt and Screw Co. He holds a Bachelors of Arts from Blue Mountain College and is pursuing an MDiv at Southeastern Seminary. He enjoys coffee, working out, running, disc golf and Katan.

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