By Marilyn Tinnin
Missionary at the General Store
Just google “job satisfaction surveys” and you will find page after page explaining what makes for fulfillment in the workplace. It seems a large portion of the population is very unhappy at work. Statistics suggest that the millennial generation job hops more than any previous age group looking for that illusive delight in one’s vocation.
Is it possible that our satisfaction is more related to what is inside us than what is out there in the everyday world we see and touch?
Meet Mrs. Peggy Dees, aka “Aunt Peggy” or “Mamaw” to a large extended family. They depend on her wisdom and her daily presence at the Williams Brothers General Merchandise Store in Philadelphia, Mississippi. At the tender age of 87, she sits on her special perch beside one of the check outs, chatting with customers, keeping an eye on traffic coming and going, and having a big say in how her daughter and her nephew are managing their 50+ employees.
This store is part of who she is. It is the 99-year-old business her father and uncle founded, and it is the place she has worked her entire life. Although she tells me she became an official employee at age 19, she worked there for a least a decade before then because, “All the Williams children had to work. There were eight of us. We could work at home; we could work in the garden; or we could work in the store. I just always loved working in the store. It is all I ever wanted to do.” As best I can count, that must mean she has been doing pretty much the same thing for about 78 years. And she is not bored yet.
In fact, her job satisfaction score is as high as it was when she was an eight-year-old clad in overalls fetching groceries off the shelves for customers. A “people person” through and through, she clearly loves her patrons, and they love her right back!
The key to Peggy’s positive attitude and zest for life is her relationship with the Lord and the power of the Holy Spirit in her. She does not hesitate to tell you that. Her testimony is that she was raised in church—the Baptist church—but she joined the Methodist church when she married Buddy Dees.
She looks back on the decades of God’s faithfulness and traces His hand in her life from Sunday school teachers who taught her to memorize scripture to specific regular customers at Williams Brothers who were intent on nurturing her relationship with Jesus. They constantly held her accountable and said things to her like, “Peggy, I am praying for you.”
It was, however, during a difficult time in her late 30s, that she developed a real hunger for a deeper relationship with the Lord. She was attending a prayer group led by a dynamic Bible teacher who began to talk about the Holy Spirit. At the same time, her Sunday school teacher at the Methodist Church kept telling her that there was so much more to the Christian life than they were experiencing.
It was in the midst of the Charismatic Revival of the 1970s that she attended a Bible Study at a friend’s house in Philadelphia. There was so much talk about the Holy Spirit—more than she had acquaintance with like the terms “Father, Son, and Holy Spirit” prior to that time. Peggy began to understand the significance of that third person of the Trinity who indwells Believers and who is a constant presence and teacher day in and day out. It was a transformational moment in her spiritual life.
Understanding that concept, praying to really receive the Holy Spirit, and recognizing that He did indeed come into her heart all served to completely change everything about the way she approached each day. She knows as she knows the sun will come up tomorrow that His promise to never leave her or forsake her is the absolute truth.
“The presence of the Lord is so precious,” she says. “When my husband was sick and we knew he was not going to live long, I was so afraid of living alone. I didn’t think I could ever live out in the country by myself. But when the time came, and when he did pass away, God took over. I stayed by myself and I can honestly say, I have never been afraid. God did it. He has kept me all the way through my life.”
Her mornings always begin in the Word. She calls that quiet time her favorite time of the day when she reads her Bible, worships her Savior, and asks for His help in making her more like Him. I think that is one prayer everyone who knows her sees that He is answering in spades. She is one lovely lady.
“I pray about everything,” she says. Oh, and you can be sure—God answers.