Flipping Burgers

by Tad Lindley

When I was growing up teachers used to try to threaten us into being better students. They would say things like, “Do you homework or else you end up flipping burgers at McDonald’s for the rest of your life!” Then I became a teacher and found myself saying similar things to my students. Except now there is no burger flipping at McDonald’s. Now it looks like they just put them in a microwave and press the button. At any rate, it produced a sense of shame for anyone who might find themselves stuck working at McDonald’s.
Caused me to quit
One day I was at the post office. I bumped into one of my former students. She had been a good hardworking student with lots of promise. I asked her what she was doing lately. She looked down toward the tiles and said, “I’m just cleaning rooms at the Long House.” Her shame was undeniable, and yet I was so happy for her to hear that she was working and trying to take care of her kids. Then it hit me, “I hope I never, ever talked bad to her class about working as a hotel cleaner.” The moment passed, she was gone, and I didn’t get to tell her how proud of her I was, but I made up my mind: never again will I make people to feel that working at McDonald’s or cleaning hotel rooms is anything to be embarrassed about.
I’ll be proud of you
Now I tell my students, “If I walk into a McDonald’s in Anchorage and I see you working there, I’m going to be proud of you, because you’re showing up and working hard, and feeding your babies or taking care of your parents. Don’t ever be ashamed of working a legal job!” Yes, I want everybody that walks out of my classroom to be the next CEO of YKHC, AVCP, CVRF, or Calista, but that simply can’t happen. In fact sometimes God puts us into a less desirable job so that we can learn some things.
…but he works at McDonald’s
When God told the prophet of Israel, Samuel, to go anoint a new king, He named the family from which the king would come, Jesse of Bethlehem. So Samuel went to Bethlehem and found Jesse. They had a feast. Jesse let Samuel look at his seven sons, but one by one God told Samuel, “Nope, not him, he might look buff on the outside, but I’m looking at the heart.” Finally, Samuel asked Jesse, “Are these all of your sons?” Jesse leaned in toward Samuel and said, “Well, there is one more, but he works in the kitchen at McDonald’s pushing the burger patty button on the microwave.”
Shepherd was the old school burger flipping
Actually it went like this, Then Samuel asked, “Are these all the sons you have?” “There is still the youngest,” Jesse replied. “But he’s out in the fields watching the sheep and goats.” “Send for him at once,” Samuel said. “We will not sit down to eat until he arrives.” (I Samuel 16:11 NLT) Jesse esteemed David too low to even have a shot at becoming king, so he had not even invited him to come to see the prophet. Even when the dots became easy to connect, he had a hard time believing that God would call his son David.
When everyone else is ahead of you
David held a low status job. Many of the young men his age were no doubt ahead of him. But God had a purpose in all of this. When it came time for him to take on Goliath, the giant of Gath, the men who had received military training were simply unable to save their nation. He went to King Saul and offered to save the nation. Saul discouraged him, but David persisted. “I have been taking care of my father’s sheep and goats,” he said. “When a lion or a bear comes to steal a lamb from the flock, I go after it with a club and rescue the lamb from its mouth. If the animal turns on me, I catch it by the jaw and club it to death. I have done this to both lions and bears, and I’ll do it to this pagan Philistine, too, for he has defied the armies of the living God!” (I Samuel 17:34-36 NLT) It was this skill set that only a lowly shepherd could master that was the key to saving Israel from Goliath. The guys in college might have been thinking, “Poor David, went from 6th grade straight to the sheepfold.” Yet when God needed a man to save his people, he went straight to the sheepfold and got a shepherd.
More than a king
Not only did the shepherd, David, kill Goliath and eventually become king, but he also was one of the greatest prayer warriors and songwriters to ever live. Most of the Book of Psalms was penned by David. God could have gone to Juliard School of Music, he could have gone to the Bible colleges, but when God needed a songwriter, he got a shepherd, the lowest of legal job classes, to fill the job. He needed a man who was acquainted with loneliness, the fruit of which was untold hours of praise and prayer.
So when survey your current position in life and you begin to compare yourself with others that you grew up with, and perhaps you’re flipping burgers somewhere or scrubbing toilets in a hotel remember David. And the kids you used to play with are now way ahead of you. Don’t look down with shame, God may have you right where he needs you in order to learn the things that will later bring you to greatness!
Tad Lindley is a minister at the United Pentecostal Church in Bethel, Alaska.