Eye-service is an interesting phrase, which refers to service performed only under inspection or the eye of an employer.
We concentrate on our work and do our best when the boss is watching. If those in charge are present, we focus on what we need to accomplish and at least look busy. We don’t want to appear to be lazy or unappreciative of the work. If we are not working away, the boss may think we are not necessary and we may soon lose our job.
The phrase is actually biblical:
Slaves, obey in everything those who are your earthly masters, not by way of eye-service, as people-pleasers, but with sincerity of heart, fearing the Lord. Colossians 3:22 (English Standard Version)
Try to please them all the time, not just when they are watching you. As slaves of Christ, do the will of God with all your heart. Ephesians 6:6 (New Living Translation)
One of the devotions I read each morning is Edward Hays' A Book of Wonders. His March 16 entry lingered with me as it pointed to a different meaning of eye-service.
“Eye service is also done by a surprisingly large number of people who are dominated by an invisible overlord, their inner-critic. This boss demands you attend to the most unimportant, even trivial task like cleaning off the speck of dust on the chair rung or straightening the picture frame that’s but a centimeter crooked. We all, to a great or less degree, are saddled with a harsh taskmaster on our own creation as our overlord.”
I know I am my own worst critic. I know I listen to that degrading negative inner talk too much- the one who uses words like “you should”, “you can’t, “You are worthless and don’t deserve…” and “it will never happen.” But never really thought of this being my overlord.
Wow, I listen as much, if not more, to this internal overlord rather than the Lord that is over me.
I give eye-service to my bruised ego and hurt feelings instead of praise and thanksgiving to the One who created me.
I never thought before to call this noisy, unkind inner critic my overlord, my boss, my supervisor. I am giving these false voices power and control they don’t really possess.
God alone rules in my heart and He is the One I serve.
My eyes will only be on Him.
As I know His eyes never leave me.
Now that is Eye-Service!