Several years ago, the monks of Saint Sixtus Abbey in Belgium received a special honor: their Trappist ale was declared the Best Beer in the World. As word got out, the beer – and thus, the monastery that brewed it – exploded in popularity. Thousands of people drove hours to get there, while thousands more flooded the brewery’s phone line with orders; as many as 85,000 calls per hour! The demand for product became so great that it was almost impossible to get a case of the ale. I received this one from Girard and Claire Claude, our pastoral team on the French/Belgian border.
But here’s the interesting part: instead of using their newfound fame to increase production or raise prices, the monks continued to make exactly the same amount of beer, and sell it for exactly the same price, as before. Why?
The answer is simple: they brew beer not as a business, but to support the operation of the monastery. Or, as their Abbot said, “We brew beer to be able to afford to be monks.” In other words, they never set out to brew the best beer in the world. They simply set out to honor God, and everything else just followed after that.
In his first letter to the Corinthians, the apostle Paul reminds us that, “Whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God” (1 Corinthians 10:31).
Think about that for a second: whatever you do, do it all to the glory of God. For his first thirty years on Earth, Christ worked with wood: shaping it into tables, chairs, or maybe even a doorframe or two. Like brewing beer, carpentry is hard work. It’s exacting and takes many hours of concentrated effort to master. But he pushed through, making each chair to his Father’s glory, and he taught us a valuable lesson by doing so: God’s glory isn’t limited to great actions or moments. Sometimes, it’s found in the small and mundane details of our daily lives.
So the next time you’re facing a task you don’t appreciate, remember the monks of Saint Sixtus. Remember that if their efforts at things as simple as brewing beer can be used to reflect something of God’s creative, good, wise, skillful, perfecting work, whatever you’re facing certainly can too.